Everyone loves organic search traffic. The idea is an easy sale, of course – who wouldn’t want streams of traffic headed to their website without having to pay for each of those clicks? There is a place in most marketing campaigns for pay-per-click ads, but ongoing high levels of organic traffic are simply impossible to replace.
Whether you desire more organic traffic simply because it is cheap, or because it offers you better leads than other methods of traffic acquisition, overhauling your website to improve SEO performance is something to carefully consider. This is a process we have recently gone through here at Service Direct, and we have been pleasantly surprised by the results. In fact, over the course of a single year, we saw a boost of 348% in our organic search traffic. Just think about what that kind of jump could mean for your business.
With this post, we’d like to go into some detail on how we approached our website overhaul and how the changes we made were able to elevate many of our pages in the search results.
As websites age and grow, they tend to get complicated. What might have been a clean and tidy site structure a few years ago could now be a tangled mess, with various employees and contractors over the years making changes that didn’t necessarily line up with one another. So, going into a site overhaul process can be a little overwhelming. To gain focus and clarity on our plan, we decided to key on four areas that could be improved –
We invite you to copy this approach to your own website overhaul, as it really helps to break up the task into categories that you can approach one at a time.
The to-do list for improving the technical side of your website is going to depend entirely on the condition of your site at this point. Some sites are a technical mess and will need to be rebuilt nearly from the ground up. In other cases, only modest changes will be required. You’ll have to perform an audit of your own site from a technical perspective before you can decide what should be changed and what should be left alone.
In our case, one of the biggest changes was switching the site to WordPress. Previously, the site was run on an in-house setup, and that structure limited our ability to adapt to changes taking place on the web. With WordPress, we expect to stay up-to-date more readily, and we can also allow more members of our team to edit and update the site without worrying about doing anything harmful on the backend.
Here are some other important technical pieces to think about improving –
You have probably performed some keyword research at some point in your SEO past. But how long has it been since you did that work? If it’s been a while, now is a good time to dig into some new opportunities and make sure you are targeting the right words and phrases for your business.
After all, generating organic traffic isn’t particularly useful if you aren’t getting visits from web users who are interested in what you have to sell. If you run PPC ads currently, use the data from those reports to inform your organic keyword strategy. The terms that perform well in your ads will likely serve you well on the organic front, as well. Also, be sure to target terms that are viable given the size and standing of your website. If you have a relatively small site with modest traffic, don’t target huge keywords that give you no chance of reaching page one.
This point goes right along with the previous idea of finding new keywords. Once that work is done, utilize what you have discovered to improve the body content on your site. In other words, you are going to improve the written content that appears across your pages, both in blog posts and on static pages that outline your products or services.
It’s easy to get lost in the woods when trying to make your content better, so focus on these five key factors to get started –
Finally, we needed to go through the site and make sure our meta information was all in place. If your site is like most others – including our own – it won’t have all the metadata that it should have, but fortunately, this is a pretty easy fix. Specifically, you are going to want to focus on page titles and meta descriptions in this process.
When you find a page that doesn’t have a title, create a new title that is between 50 and 60 characters and ideally includes your main keyword for that page. Also, keep the formatting of these titles the same across all of your pages, for consistency and familiarity with your audience.
The same approach can be taken for meta descriptions, which are meant to be an explanation of what can be found on each page. These tags can be extremely useful for your click-through rate on the search results page, so take the time needed to write helpful, informative copy that will encourage a searcher to click or tap to learn more.
If you have read through these ideas and are excited to get to work on improving your site, we have some bad news – it’s going to take some time. As soon as you dive into the process of overhauling your site, you’ll quickly be hit with the realization that this is a lot of work and you are going to struggle to find time in your day to work on it while keeping up with countless other tasks.
That might be frustrating, but don’t let it be the end of the road. Instead, work out a detailed schedule that will allow you to go through the various elements, one at a time until your website is a finely-tuned SEO machine. Along the way, you’ll gradually be making improvements in each of the four areas, so you should see some SEO progress before you get to the finish line. Good luck with this process and here’s to many more organic search visitors in the months and years to come.
Matt Buchanan is the Co-Founder and Chief Growth Officer at Service Direct, a technology company that offers local lead generation solutions for service businesses. He is a graduate of Vanderbilt University. He has 15+ years of expertise in local lead generation, sales, search engine marketing, and building and executing growth strategies.