Four steps to improve the quality and quantity of traffic to your website

Many websites are creating great, useful content but they’re leaving money on the table, simply because this content isn’t being found by its target audience.

It’s important to realise the huge opportunity you have to improve performance, and often it just takes the right tools and methods to be able to do that.

In this article, taken from Jon Earnshaw’s Brighton SEO March 2021 presentation, we’ll outline a four step strategy to attract more quality traffic to your website through smart use of data and analysis.

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Step 1: Don’t leave money on the table

We all spend a lot of time and resources creating content, and many companies are creating some great content.

However, this effort is often wasted if it’s not been found organically. If it’s sitting on page two or three of Google, it isn’t fulfilling its potential to promote your products, services and information to interested searchers.

There are a number of ways to look into this problem. First of all, start with a high level view of your search performance.

The example below shows the share of voice for a fashion retailer over the most important 1,000 search terms. Before being hit by the December 2020 Core update they were on their way to position one for share of voice.

Screenshot 2021-03-03 at 13.45.57

Image source: Pi Market Intelligence 

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Image source: Pi Market Intelligence 

The true opportunity may be far greater, but this is something we see on a daily basis across lots of sites.

The next step is to see where this content sits. So we can break it down by category to see the potential opportunity in greater detail.

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Image source: Pi Market Intelligence 

There are three questions to ask here:

  • Why is this content not ranking higher?
  • Has it always been there? To answer this we need to look at historical data – perhaps it’s been hit by an algorithm change or perhaps it’s losing out to competitors?
  • Are there any patterns? This is about explaining and analysing the data.

We did this with the retailer here, and these are the reasons we found for poor content performance:

  • 43% of poor performance is due to internal conflict. Google can be confused on what to rank when looking at similar content.
  • 23% can be attributed to poor optimisation, including internal linking.
  • 10% is down low Google E-A-T signals, perhaps the impact of the December 2020 core update.
  • 20% of this is supportive content i.e. content which isn’t necessarily meant to be found by the search engines.

In each case, it pays to categorise these issues and prioritise before fixing them. In this case it would be advisable to look into the internal conflict first, as this is often the easiest win, and represents a large portion of the content opportunity.

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Step 2: Get inside the mind of your audience

This is how many of use typically create and optimise content:

  • Begin with a topic or idea.
  • Build content around it.
  • Optimise this content.
  • Publish.
  • Look at the SERP to see how it performs.

However, this is all wrong. It’s like turning up at an event without checking the dress code first.

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Instead, it’s best to begin with the SERP, as this is a reflection of searcher intent. By looking at this, you can begin to gain a better understanding of search intent.

You can’t simply add content into the ecosystem and expect it to stick – it has to belong there. By taking the SERP first approach, you can see what the opportunities are.

It can help you to answer four key questions about customers:

  • What are they looking for?
  • What are they asking? The People Also Ask feature is great for this.
  • What are they thinking? The answer to this is hugely influenced by the next question.
  • What are they consuming right now? Again, the answer to this is in the SERPs.

By asking ourselves these four questions, we have the basis of an intent-driven content strategy.

Looking at the SERPs for the Golden Globes example, we can see the different features and the extent to which they appear. We have videos, People Also Ask, Top Stories and more.

matrix

Image source: Pi’s SEO Platform SERP Radar 

If the SERP looks something like this, why would we look to rank with just classic links?

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Step 3: Stop asking if we’re on page one

It’s not about asking whether your results are on page one of Google, or any other search engine. The real question to ask is: how many doorways have we opened into our ecosystem on page one?

It’s about targeting multiple touchpoints, rather than just thinking about classic links.

Take a look at the example below.One brand has managed to appear in this SERP in three different ways – in the answer card,  the video carousel, as well as having a classic link. (The answer card and classic link are different pages).

Look at the matrix view of this SERP, which shows the appearance of different SERP features. It reveals opportunities on page one to be visible through image results, answer cards and other features.

Screenshot 2021-03-25 at 16.20.56

Image source: Pi’s SEO Platform SERP Matrix 

Ask yourself if you’re doing enough to feature in these SERPs. Are you optimising your images? Are you reading and observing People Also Ask questions to get into the minds of searchers? As video results become more popular, do you need more video content?

If we take advantage of these opportunities and connect them together, this can give you multiple touchpoints for searchers to find you.

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Step 4: Don’t optimise in isolation

By following the first three steps, we know there’s plenty of potential opportunity, we’re starting to read the search landscape and understand audience intent, and we know about the multiple doorways to take advantage of.

Creating new content to create these new doorways is the way to go, but we have to be aware of the risk of internal conflict. Content won’t work if we optimise in isolation. Contextual optimisation is vital.

Before you push new content into your ecosystem, stop and think: is there any content in our existing ecosystem that is a) potential;y conflicting or b) complementary?

If we don’t consider these questions and just inject new content into our ecosystem, adding new, similarly themed conflict this can cause internal conflict and keyword cannibalisation.

This three step process of contextual optimisation can help you avoid conflict and ensure that new content works effectively:

A. Identify potential conflicts and complements

Use site operators to identify pages which can either help or hinder new conflict. You can use site operators to search for these pages.

For example:

  • www.domain.com intitle:“golden globes’ ‘ will identify pages on your site with your target keywords in the page title. These pages can potentially conflict with new content.
  • www.domain.com “golden globes” will identify pages where your keywords have been mentioned in the page content.  These pages can be complementary.

B. Decide on a doorway page

The doorway page is the one you want to be visible in Google for your target term, whether through a classic link, video, or other SERP feature.

If you find potential conflict from other pages, don’t change page titles without taking into consideration the page authority, its visibility for other terms, and current traffic.

C. Add internal links to doorway pages

Once you’ve decided on a doorway page, the next step is to add links to it from your complementary pages. 

These links add immediate authority to the new page, and almost guarantee instant visibility, as well as avoiding any potential internal conflict.

In Summary

Applying the four steps in this process allows you to gain a greater understanding of your content and the way it performs, and understand the intent of customers and potential visitors when they search.

From here, you can open multiple doorways into your ecosystem and avoid any internal conflict between new and old content. In this way you can increase traffic, and make the most of existing and new content.

Useful Links

Content optimisation and contextualising your ecosystem

Duplicate content SEO: How to deal with it

Featured snippets: What are they & how do you own them?

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