Almost 91% of content online gets no Google traffic. Why? And more importantly – how can you make sure your content sits in the 9% that gets noticed?
In this article we’ll cover how you can ensure that your content gets seen. We’ll recap an Ahrefs study and how this correlates with search traffic, outline the skyscraper technique for creating content that ranks, how to optimise your content for search engines and finally how to amplify the reach of your content.
- What the Ahrefs study found
- Quality backlinks drive traffic
- Content is still King, but…
- The Skyscraper Technique for content
- Optimising your content for search engines
- Amplifying the reach of your content
- Putting it all together
Ahrefs have been studying search results and how visible content is in relation to SEO ranking factors like backlinks and referring domains.
Their content explorer tool discovers 1.8 million new pages every 24 hours. However, within the next year, only a measly 5.7% of them are likely to rank in a top ten Google search.
In fact, when over a billion pages were studied, it was found that 90.88% of pages received no organic search traffic from Google- none! Of the remaining 9.12%, 4.5% of them receive less than ten visits per month.
Before we go on it’s important to highlight that the team at Synapse Search are avid advocates of content driven SEO. But we’ll get to that a little later in the article.
About 75% of blog posts receive less than 39 shares, and get precisely ZERO referring domain links. It’s getting harder and harder to make your content visible.
To add to the battle to get your content seen, Facebook is making it more difficult for social media to have an impact. Over the past five years, the average reach from a post has dropped from 12.05% to 6.15%.
Both Facebook and Google regularly update their algorithms, making it challenging to keep abreast of the must-dos and do-nots.
Despite this, there are a number of things you can do that will reap SEO results consistently.
Backlinks are simply links to your content from other sites. Ahrefs looked into backlinks in depth, to understand how they impacted on a site’s organic traffic.
Out of one billion website pages, more than half have no backlinks. And a whopping 84% have less than three backlinks.
This represents a significant opportunity to get an SEO ‘jumpstart’ by securing the right kind of backlinks from reputable and trustworthy sites. There is a clear correlation between referring domains and organic search traffic.
As always, it is important to note that correlation does not necessarily imply causation. These graphs don’t infer causation, which means that neither of these graphs provides direct evidence that links help you rank in Google.
But pretty much any SEO professional will tell you that it’s almost impossible to penetrate the top 10 search results if the current top ranking pages have a reasonable number backlinks.
Without backlinks, your site is likely to struggle to get traction in organic search. And if you aren’t getting the traffic, your competitors are.
The old cliche is still true. Having well written blog posts and high quality content on your site helps boost your SEO, organic search visibility and organic traffic in two ways.
It gives you an opportunity to give relevant answers to potential visitors questions, and, optimising that content for relevant search phrases helps search engines match your content with a user’s search query.
- Your content must be written clearly, designed to provide value to your site visitors. Easily readable content that is relevant and helpful retains readers and is rewarded by Google. Why? Read more about the effects of Google Rank Brain here.
- Your content must be optimized for terms that people are searching for. Your site will not get search engine traffic if you aren’t identifying what people are looking for and targeting and optimizing for that.
Sometimes pages have lots of backlinks but still get zero traffic from Google. From Ahref’s research, ten million pages have between 10-50 referring domains but no search engine traffic.
Surely this contradicts the first graphs? Not necessarily!
Many of these pages have not been optimized for likely search phrases. If nobody is searching for whatever you talk about on your page, you won’t get any search traffic. Simple.
You’ll notice this happening quite often with news‐based articles. They easily obtain a lot of links from around the web, yet rarely get any long‐term traffic from Google. This is because people can’t search for things they’re unaware of.
This is an effective way to grow your website traffic in a relatively short space of time. It’s designed to position you at the top of Google – not the fifth or sixth floor, but the very top, where your customers will easily find you.
Here’s a very simplistic overview…
- Start by researching popular trends, topics, and already well-received pieces of existing content across the topic areas your business typically covers. There are a number of tools you can use to research trending and popular topics. See Buzzsumo below.
- Match these topics and pieces of content with search phrases you would like to be visible on Google for. What search phrases are likely to bring relevant visitors to your website?
- Check to see whether those phrases have search volumes. Neil Patel’s ubersuggest keyword tool can be helpful.
- Do a search on Google to see which websites and specifically what content is ranking in position 1-5.
- If you want to head to the top of the class, you can do a competitive analysis assessing how strong each of the ranking pages is.
- Then create content that is significantly better than anything on the first page. Look for new and unique ways to create content that communicates a similar message — with a twist. This might mean a broader range of information (instead of top 10 tips, try the top 50 tips!) or collating a series of other resources from around the internet. Whatever it is, create the best content on the internet for that topic and search phrase. Think also about the design of the content- if everyone else has a blog format, create an infographic. Include graphs, charts, videos and tables. Use true-life stories and examples from real people. There are a huge number of ways you can make your content better than everyone else’s- add value. Create unicorn content- special, rare, and highly valued.
- Make sure you optimize your content for your target keywords. See below.
- Finally amplify your content through variety of techniques, not the least acquiring relevant links from high value and trusted website.
These eight steps will help you optimise your amazing content for search engines. Remember, if you are running your site on WordPress, install a plug in such as Yoast to help you make the best of every page.
1. Focus on one to two long-tail keywords
Once you’ve done your keyword research, you’ll hopefully have a list of relevant long tail and head keywords. When you write, pick one or two long tail keywords to emphasise. Don’t worry about head keywords, as they will likely be difficult to rank for, but if you write excellent content, you’ll find the keywords will naturally be included in the content anyway.
Any more than one or two phrases may be interpreted by Google as ‘keyword stuffing’, and negatively affect your rankings (as well as making it clear to your reader that you are writing for SEO, and not for readability or to provide helpful information).
Often, long tail keywords are questions- the actual phrase someone will type into a search engine. This means as well as your post being focused, it’s genuinely helpful to visitors- often converting a visit into a sale.
2. Include target keywords in specific parts of your content
There are generally four parts of a post where inserting keywords (or synonyms) can help . Titles, headers and body, URL and meta description.
- The title should include your keyword in the first 60 characters of the title. This is not only great for SEO, but readers will only see the first 60 characters in Google search results- so make sure those characters are compelling and informative enough to make people click though.
- Mention your keywords in a natural way throughout the body of the text. Don’t go overboard. A good way to approach it is to write an article and go back later and fit in the keywords- that way, you know how many times you’ve used them, and you have made them fit the flow of the writing in a natural way. Write in a way that is helpful to your audience primarily.
- Customise your URL to fit the content and the keywords or search phrases that you are optimising for.
- Your meta description is a short snippet that gives search engines and your readers information about your content. This has to make people want to click on it, and also must include your relevant keyword/s. It’s debatable how much direct impact your meta description has on rankings, however there is no denying the effect they have on click through rates. See this article on improving your CTR.
3. Your blog must be mobile friendly
It’s likely that more than half your traffic is from mobile phones, so you must make your content easily readable from mobile devices. There is no doubt that pages speed and mobile friendliness have a significant impact on rankings. A responsive design is when your website will reconfigure itself depending on what size screen it’s being viewed on. Try your site on your phone, and then turn your phone on its side. It will display differently in landscape than it will in portrait.
4. Name your images
If you have images on your site (which you should), they will have ‘alt text’. This is what search engines ‘see’ when looking at images. Alt text is also what is displayed when an image can’t be found, which is helpful to site users. So change the alt text from IMG123456 to something that helps Google see what you’re doing and accurately identifies what is in the picture.
5. Link internally and externally
Internal links show relationships between your posts and make them all look far more relevant. It’s helpful to visitors if they’ve missed a previous post or there’s a related post that might help them. Think of a starburst relationship- you want to have subject clusters that link to an array of related content. Google loves this too, because it is organised, logical, and shows that you have helpful content. If you want to get to the advanced stage think of using internal links to create a semantic map of topics and entities for Google
6. Use the Google Search console
This free tool has ‘search analytics report’. This will help you understand your traffic from Google, which allows you to make educated decisions about your keywords- are they working? Are there other keywords you should be using?
7. Make some easy wins
Google loves fresh content, so you can create some easy SEO wins by going through old content, updating it with new information, adding relevant links, and optimising your topic tags. Using the search console, you can see your better-performing posts and give them a bit of a polish to get them back to the top of the heap. SEO doesn’t have to be hard work.
To make the most of your existing backlinks, find pages on your site that have many referring domains. Then, optimise for relevant keywords- do some research using MOZ and find out what people are searching for and prime your page for those phrases.
Even if you have written the BEST blog post IN THE WORLD, unless you put it in front of the right people, no-one is ever going to read it. Imagine opening a shop on a cluttered high street and not telling anyone you’re there- the likelihood of someone stumbling into your shop is pretty minimal.
Content amplification is a technique designed to increase your audience, create your brand, and drive sales. Consider it to be the equivalent of painting your storefront bright pink, demolishing the other shops, and having a sausage sizzle out the front.
Amplification is drowning out the ‘noise’ of your competition while sending a clear and compelling signal.
It’s comprised of loads of different techniques- not every technique will suit everyone. The good news is that most of what is published is ‘drivel’. There’s an awful lot of poorly written, worthless, light and fluffy content out there- so if you have just written The Best Blog Ever and optimised to within an inch of its life, you have got half of the work done already.
1. Only amplify the crème de la crème of your content
The likelihood of a blog being a unicorn- the type goes that magically viral and is shared widely- is minimal. Some would say impossible. But you should aim big. When you have written that unicorn post- pay to promote it. Get it out there where people can see it.
2. Use influencers
Kim Kardashian charges $250K for ONE Instagram post. However if you can’t afford that price tag (and if you’re selling chainsaws then she’s not a relevant influencer anyway), then there are some slightly more affordable ways.
While you can find a relevant influencer and pay them to spread your message, you can also try some slightly softer approaches. Try emailing the influencer – they may find it interesting enough to share. Try engaging on social media- tweeting them or tagging them in IG might get you somewhere too. If they post or blog something in your field, use that as a starting point and post a rebuttal or a more detailed post to follow up on theirs.
This is more likely to work if you have a relationship with them that isn’t just self-promotion, and if you don’t spam them. Be sparing. A dash of truffle oil rather than 1kg of field mushrooms…
3. Super remarketing
This is where your marketing dons a cape and wears its underwear on the outside. You target a super niche set of your followers. For instance, you market only to women aged 30-40, who work and have children, that have a tertiary qualification and make the purchasing decisions in the home. While it might seem counterintuitive to market to a smaller group, the percentage of the people in your super-niche who will be interested in your blog/ product will be much higher than in the wider group. If you market to this group, you might get a ten percent response, whereas marketing to 20-40 year old women might get only a 1% response.
Pouring time in money into a smaller niche group makes financial sense.
4. Find your community
Reddit, Quora and other communities are excellent places for marketing – as long as you don’t try to do any marketing. Confused?
Rather than spamming everyone, which will likely result in you getting roasted by the online community, focus on being a trusted member of the niche that is relevant to you. Get involved in conversations and become a trusted expert in your field by posting useful links and offer genuinely useful answers. Don’t just post links and advertise your business. The flaming pitchforks of an online community can quickly undo any good work you’ve done.
5. Use content amplification tools
BuzzSumo is a great starting place for understanding what’s going on in your industry. A quick (free) search yields a set of recently published articles, giving you an idea of what content is performing well on social media. This is great if you’re searching for a relevant trending topic that will be your unicorn post. The paid tool costs $99 and up.
BuzzStream has a wider range of features than most content tools. Project management, outreach tracking, and all from a central dashboard that’s easy to use. It also has some nifty SEO and link building tools. From $24 a month, this is worth the investment.
Little Bird is all about finding and connecting with good influencers. From anywhere between $50 to $500 a month, relevant social media is monitored, graphed, and analysed. This allows you to see the connections between your business and relevant influencers.
Buffer is a social media scheduling tool with a difference. You can optimise for optimal times for specific social networks. This ensures you will reach the biggest amount of people possible. You can also ‘re-buffer’ older content from your dashboard. This is a free tool for individuals, and plans cost from $10 to $399 for businesses.
Facebook opportunity calculator optimises the use of Facebook Ads. It evaluates your business page, calculates how well your content performs, and recommends improvements. It also gives you an honest figure for your outreach (which may be a little distressing) and a cost-to-reach calculator. It also has a simulator that predicts how well a campaign may perform, allowing you to make educated decisions about whether it’s worth running a campaign or not. This is free, so it’s worth a try.
If you are serious about ranking on Google and getting organic traffic to your site, it’s not difficult if you are prepared to put in some time and effort.
Firstly, using the SkyScraper Technique, write great content about things that people want to hear about. Then, get lots of high quality backlinks from relevant referring sites. Finally, amplify that content in all the right places. That’s it.
Make sure that you are part of the 9% of content that gets Google organic traffic.
If you have made it this far and are serious about creating ‘content that ranks’, receives search traffic and helps to deliver on your business objectives, drop us a note. We’d be only to happy to help.