You built a website, but nobody’s visiting.
It happens to the best of us.
Just building a website isn’t enough. You need to get it listed with search engines and attract organic search traffic.
Regarding traffic, more specifically, you need Google search traffic.
What I’m going to show you today are some easy SEO fixes that can boost your search rankings on Google.
They’ll work on other search engines as well, but focusing on Google is the way to win.
Let’s get started.
1. Migrate to WordPress and install Yoast
WordPress isn’t the only web-hosting platform.
It’s the best for SEO purposes, however, and a large part of that is due to free plugins like Yoast.
Yoast is a suite of SEO plugins for WordPress, available as both a free and premium ($89 one-time fee) version.
Here’s the breakdown of some differences.
The free version of Yoast is fantastic.
It has nearly everything you need to get started with your SEO efforts.
I’ll run through some of the key features in a moment, but the premium version also resolves some key issues I’ll discuss later in this post.
Internal linking and redirection are important fixes to focus on with SEO.
Not only does it make your site more presentable to search engines, it will also help you get backlinks from other sites.
But what we’re focusing on for now is how WordPress and Yoast improve your SEO.
Once the plugin is installed, it’s a seamless GUI upgrade. You won’t believe you ever lived without it.
Any time you create a new post in WordPress, you’ll have the Yoast SEO command center at the bottom.
It gives you several key pieces of information.
First, you’ll get a preview of exactly how your post’s snippet will look in search engines.
You can view it on both mobile and desktop and manipulate it however you’d like.
Also, set a focus keyword for a real-time SEO analysis.
Yoast scans your post in real time to provide suggestions on readability, keyword density, title and header tags, and more.
It’s also a good idea to mark cornerstone content.
This is the content you want to be known for. I have a lot of niche digital marketing, content marketing, and SEO content.
The general guides and services I offer are my cornerstone content.
The rest is long-tail content that supports it.
Also, when installing Yoast, a new dashboard item appears that gives you an overview of your entire site’s SEO.
Posts marked in red, orange, or gray need attention.
This is how you’ll build your map to start fixing SEO issues throughout your site.
But we’ll also need an outside opinion — one directly from Google itself.
2. Find and redirect dead links
Google Webmaster Tools is an essential suite of tools to analyze and optimize your web page.
You can quickly find out how your website looks to Google by fetching it through Webmaster Tools.
This is also a step you’ll want to perform after fixing any errors found during this initial scan.
Once you’ve fixed errors, you’ll click the “Request Indexing” button, but first, we need to ensure there are no site errors.
Another place to check is your sitemap.
Google will let you know about any links it couldn’t find, allowing you to correct each layer of your website.
Not only that, but it will send you a message if there are any important changes in your site.
Here’s one from a recent outage experienced by one of my clients.
An increase in 404 errors can quickly wreak havoc on your website, so you’ll want to find any broken links.
It’s also important if you make changes to your site to redirect those links.
Yoast Premium can accomplish this if you’re willing to spend $89, but there are also free WordPress plugins.
Just be careful how many plugins you activate.
The more you add to your website, the slower it will load and render for both search engines and visitors.
We’ll talk more about site speed in a minute, but first, let’s talk about backlinks for SEO.
3. Gain backlinks on relevant sites
I’ve written extensively on how to get backlinks.
You can also find some great backlink tools on my blog.
This time around, however, I’ll focus mostly on guest blogging.
It’s how Bryan Harris at Okdork increased his traffic by over 500%.
By making guest appearances on reputable websites, you’ll get an opportunity to shine in several ways while building your overall SEO efforts.
It’s also earned media, a valuable marketing channel.
Let’s check out how Curtis Snyder from Make Your Mark Media accomplishes it.
MYM is a digital marketing agency that services all the major BMW and Nissan dealerships in the Chicago area.
They gained this success through a proven track record with several dealerships, along with a major push on other media channels.
It wasn’t long before Curtis was making the rounds on AutoDealerLive, CBT News, and more.
They did cross promotions and co-branding work and Curtis got himself established as an expert in marketing for car dealerships.
The media push helped catapult this startup agency into one of Chicago’s best digital marketing agencies.
So you see, it’s not just me using these tactics.
Everyone that’s successful does it — although I suppose this is as good a place as any to mention that I also use earned media for backlinks.
Check out my blog on Entrepreneur.
It’s one of the many places I contribute content besides my website, and it’s filled with useful information.
If I only blogged on my site, I wouldn’t have the SEO success I do today.
Reputable backlinks will keep your site relevant to search engines for years to come.
Work on them immediately — well, after you optimize your site for mobile, that is.
4. Focus on mobile first
It’s no longer news that Google and other search engines are focusing on a mobile-first world.
The Internet of Things, wearables, and mobile phones are making on-the-go Internet the new way of doing things.
Mobile began outperforming desktop at the end of 2016 as the preferred way to access the internet.
You can’t perform well in Google’s search rankings today unless your site is mobile optimized.
On a desktop, you have a ton of space for flashy videos, animations, and photos.
Mobile sites don’t have as much space, so things need to be organized differently.
Here’s an example from Zeigler Nissan of Orland Park.
There are a ton of available tools on the website.
You can see a rotating banner ad, live chat, and you can shop for a car in a variety of ways.
The mobile site needs this same functionality but on a smaller screen.
So, the dealership pares it down to the basic necessities.
Mobile visitors can still shop, chat, and view a few visuals, but it’s now optimized for mobile.
The buttons are more colorful and easier to click (or tap) on a small touchscreen.
Optimizing your e-commerce site for mobile is the best thing you’ll do to fix its SEO.
Another great way is to boost traffic through RSS feeds.
5. Submit to RSS feeds
Submitting your site to RSS feeds isn’t a direct SEO boost in and of itself.
This has been confirmed several times by Google’s John Mueller.
However, it does help with similar postings on Medium, Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, and other user-contributed media sites.
The same information on your website vs. a mainstream media outlet will be perceived differently by its audiences.
According to the 2017 State of Inbound report, 75% of marketers find blogging critical to their content marketing success.
Content discovery tools, like RSS feeds, are seen by 29% of marketers as effective.
This traffic will show on your Google Analytics reports as referral traffic, not search.
But having more traffic on your site is a signal to Google that there’s something there worth showing its users.
In fact, this same study showed that 309-million people are blocking ads on the mobile web.
This means an RSS feed and other methods of placing links within the content are your best backlinking options for SEO.
Don’t ignore this opportunity, as you may be wasting money on PPC campaigns and banner ads.
Another great place to submit your articles is through paid content placement services like Outbrain or Taboola.
These are ads that look more like in-feed content.
It’s similar to the related content recommendations you’ll find in WordPress magazine themes.
You’ll find Taboola recommendations on major sites like Huffington Post. They can help bring in more traffic to your website.
In fact, let’s discuss on-page related suggestions, as they’ll help your SEO, too.
6. Add related suggestions
Getting initial traffic is great, but return visitors really pushes your search rankings up.
I have a great video on how to get more returning visitors to your site.
Remarketing is a big part of it.
But there’s no reason to remarket to customers who already found their way through your conversion funnel.
That’s where related suggestions come into play.
Check out my Forbes page.
When you’re done reading one of my articles, you’ll receive related content recommendations.
Below that, there are even more recommendations in the form of ads.
These recommendations aren’t static — they change based on the visitor and page content.
Adding these increases your click-through rate.
There’s a direct correlation between SEO position and click-through rate.
Check out this chart from Moz.
It’s an even greater increase for long-tail keywords.
You can drive this with related content suggestions.
Try it now by installing the Yet Another Related Posts Plugin for WordPress.
Using this plugin, you can change the layout and look of your related posts.
Then A/B test a variety of looks and number of posts until you find one that works for your site.
7. Run an SEO audit
Finding out how your SEO is running requires a full SEO audit.
The Google Analytics reports I reviewed earlier are a great start, but they’re not the end of the road.
Let’s go over a few more tools to improve your site’s SEO copywriting.
The first is my very own SEO analysis tool on this website.
Just enter your page (and up to three competitors) to get a fast SEO analysis.
My tool checks your page-level SEO score and provides a letter grade.
It’s a lot like how you were graded in school.
There’s also a speed score, so you know how fast your page loads.
Below that, we’ll find any warnings or errors.
We can see that a lack of header tags and social shares is what drops my site from an A+ to an A-.
Of course, that’s just my home page. My blog posts are shared quite often across social media.
Scrolling down further, we learn about my backlinks.
Then we’re given a high-level keyword analysis.
This is how we find out what keywords are being used most on the site and what we’re likely to rank for in Google’s SERPs.
This is just the start.
When I work with clients, I analyze their SEO using a full suite of tools including Google Analytics and my own proprietary tools.
Another great tool is SEMRush.
Using SEMRush, you’ll get a breakdown of audience demographics and important keyword information.
You’ll also be able to see visual data of how you rank against competitors.
This is vital information to understand how your SEO efforts are paying off.
You’ll notice I don’t pay for traffic to my site. It’s all organic search and referral traffic.
This is how I boost my SEO rankings — and you can do it, too.
8. Hire a professional editor or proofreader
There’s nothing less professional than typos.
Despite all my efforts, the occasional typo slips through.
That’s why I hire a staff of professional editors to help me proofread my copy before I publish it.
Some SEO experts will tell you there’s gold to mine in searched typos.
I recommend against it, however — and I’m not the only one.
Misspellings and other misinformation affect consumer trust.
Now is a terrible time for that, because consumer trust in CEOs has dropped considerably.
We’re also at a crossroads where politics and media are at war.
Thanks to the 2016 election and President Donald Trump’s assertions of fake news, both Google and Facebook are cracking down on it.
Websites are being banned from social media, search engines, and more.
It’s a fight that’s gone mainstream.
By hiring a professional editor to proofread your copy, you’ll remove typos, have facts double checked, and you’ll increase conversions.
Removing passive voice and other grammatical errors also helps your site’s readability.
It’s one of the many factors Yoast SEO will check on your posts before publication.
That’s why I recommended it at the top of this post.
But most of my SEO advice revolves around text. So let’s talk visuals.
9. Optimize your visuals
Your visual content can make or break your search rankings, too.
That’s why 55% of B2C content marketers are focused on creating more visual content.
Visual content makes your pages more appealing to readers, so they’ll spend more time on your site.
They’ll be more likely to click and share this content, too.
A recent study from MassPlanner found that infographics are liked and shared three times more than other types of content.
That’s a worthwhile enough effort, but we’re also forgetting that Google has image search.
Using visual content on your website makes you more accessible to more Google searches.
Here’s a Google Image search for Neil Patel.
It’s safe to say that aside from the competition (there are a lot of distinguished Neil Patels in the world), I’m dominating Google’s image search.
That’s no accident.
I focus a lot of my content creation efforts on visual content, whether it be pictures, infographics, charts, or videos.
Visual marketing works because the information is retained better.
Check out this infographic on the subject and tell me it’s not more interesting than the last few paragraphs of text saying exactly the same thing.
Visual content appears more often than ever in Google’s search results.
In the old days, we only saw a link to Google’s image search for visuals like this.
Now with schema integrated into website content, search engines are becoming more interactive.
Perform a Google search for a popular topic like “best TV shows of 2017” and all you’ll see is visual content.
Both of these rows of images for top stories and frequently mentioned TV shows are carousels.
That gives users two visual, horizontal searches that take up the entire screen. These are more likely to be used than any text-based answer.
If you want your pages to be seen on today’s Internet, they need visual content.
10. Create a physical site map
I find that it’s easier for me to visualize my website when I have a visual site map.
It’s as simple as writing out pages on index cards and pinning them to a bulletin board.
If you want to see what your digital sitemap looks like, type in /sitemap.xml after your website URL.
Here’s the sitemap for Neilpatel.com/sitemap.xml.
You’ll see it’s created by Yoast SEO, in case you were wondering if I actually use the plugin.
Also, my sitemap is updated often because I’m constantly updating content.
I recently started focusing on video, so that’s another sitemap entirely.
This is all part of my SEO process.
I did this by visualizing it first.
Start by writing “Homepage” on one index card and place it in the center.
Then add “Blog,” “About,” “Contact,” and “e-commerce” pages.
Connect them and make sure it all makes sense before submitting to Google’s Webmaster Tools.
I won’t bore you with the step-by-step, but here’s Google’s support page on it.
And don’t forget to submit your site to Bing, too.
Far too often, we focus solely on Google search and forget that Microsoft’s search engine powers Cortana and Yahoo search, among others.
You can submit your sitemap to Bing here.
This is all that’s necessary for these search crawlers to start indexing your page.
It should be done anytime you make a change to your site, especially after fixing errors.
Despite the fact that it’s 2017 and everyone knows that online marketing and SEO are important, many sites simply don’t fix their errors.
With a few simple adjustments, you can make a lot of headway in traffic through organic search.
Google and its search traffic are the holy grail of any web-related business.
If you want to be found online, Google is the way to do it.
Whether you’re at the top or the bottom, there’s always room for improvement.
The internet is constantly changing, and you’ll have to remain nimble to keep up.
What SEO fixes have you recently implemented that I didn’t cover here?