Free traffic to your blog may seem like an uphill battle. Getting eyeballs on your amazing content is essential as a service-based business. But how do you do that when you’re running the whole show? The good news is that you can get traffic to your blog at no cost if you know how to use SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Let’s take a look at how you can drive free web traffic to your blog so that you can grow you small business.
1. Understand the power of SEO
Regardless of the nature of your blog, there are people out there searching for the content you offer. Being able to get them to your site is a matter of you showing up in search results for Google or Bing. How do you show up? By ticking off as many boxes in their algorithms. How do you check off the boxes? By optimizing your site for organic search (aka: free traffic!).
If you cover all the bases with SEO, then getting free website traffic builds over time. The best thing about this is that organic traffic is “buyer-ready.” In other words, they’re already searching for what you have to offer. They may be in the right mindset to convert, too.
2. Focus on ‘Search Intent’ instead of ‘Keywords’
You’ve read that SEO is all about “keywords”, I’m sure. However, peppering content with words you want to rank for doesn’t guarantee results. 70 million new posts appear on WordPress blogs every day alone. Competition is stiff! I’m sure at least 2% of those posts are about a topic you cover. So, we have to be strategic with our keywords. Which is where ‘search intent’ comes in.
Instead of a keyword, think of the kind of headspace your ideal audience is in. While not always so cut and dry, ‘search intent’ puts people into 4 buckets:
Informational: the person is looking for answers. They ask questions that begin with “who, what, when, where, why, how”. What are common questions you get about your business or service you could answer? Guides, how-tos, tutorials and advice are great blog posts for this kind of search intent.
Navigational: the user already knows the brand and is trying to accomplish something. Common examples people search are “Acme return policy”, “Acme login”. These are less useful for blog posts, but there might be a use case for you.
Commercial Investigation: the person is in research mode, and might know a little about a subject. They are probably close to buying, too! They use keywords containing “best”, “vs”, “cheapest”. Comparison posts are great blog content for this search intent.
Transaction: these searchers are ready to buy or take action. They search for terms like “buy”, “rent”, or “download courses”. You can approach their needs similarly to “Informational” or “Commercial Investigation”. Write for someone who knows what they’re looking for, and guide them to your service being what they want.
Keywords can be tricky though, since most of the good ones are highly competitive. Before you set your heart on a keyword phrase and begin writing, make sure you do your research. There are lots of articles written already on how to do keyword searches.
3. Wrangle items such as load times and image optimization sooner than later
There are also other on-page SEO factors that you need to take into consideration. How fast your pages load, making sure your images have alternative text, and linking between your pages are all important. Search engines take all of these factors (and more) into account when deciding how to rank your web pages.
Sounds overly complicated? Remember, optimizing your site for free traffic is a marathon, not a race. As long as you’re constantly making progress on your SEO efforts, you’re ahead of the game.
4. Build backlinks to drive traffic
The internet is a giant web of links. We say that bots ‘crawl’ around your website to better understand context. Additionally, bots are trying to figure out if you’re legit. They want to see if other, more legitimate websites are vouching for you. These are known as ‘backlinks’. Think of them as social clout for SEO.
A backlink is where a website links out to yours. But you don’t want links from just any website. They should be relevant to your content, and have a domain authority of 30 or more. You can find out the domain authority of any website with this Domain Authority Checker by Ahrefs.
Getting quality backlinks is a delicate, long-term game. A game where your best bet is to ask those in charge of the website to link to your content. Thankfully, there are a few ways you can achieve this for your blog posts:
A website in your community with high domain authority linking to your site is a great start. It may require you creating additional content, but well worth it.
- Interview your best clients to find out where they hang out online to help you pick where to promote yourself.
- Write a guest blog post for an organization or charity you belong to, and have it link back to your site.
- If you were on a podcast, link to relevant content for listeners to dive deeper into the topic covered.
- Ask clients you’ve worked with to reference you on their site.
Being in directory listings works in favour of small businesses. Listing your business isn’t so much about getting traffic through that directory. Rather, it’s to tell Google what your business is all about. This gives vital information that search engines need to rank your posts. Yup, all about context again.
For example: you have a coaching business and list it in a chamber of commerce directory. Google will know to recommend your site to people who are searching for coaches. If your business operates within a specific area, this strategy is even more vital. This is because of the way Google uses location based search results. For example, someone looks up the phrase “best copywriter near me”. Google will show them copywriters that are in their area. Talk about targeting!
SEO: a time investment that pays dividends
SEO is one of the most cost effective of getting traffic to your blog. If you do it yourself then you’ll essentially be getting free traffic. Send that traffic to amazing content with clear calls to action, and you’ll see higher profit margins. This article is by no needs deep enough to cover all aspects of SEO. But I trust you’ll see that it can be a very powerful part of your web strategy. In considering this, I have developed a series of SEO workshops that break down the main components into more digestible, fun segments.
Do note that with even perfect SEO techniques, results are not instant. It can take many months before Google will crawl your pages and index them based on the SEO that you’ve done. That said, once your SEO juice does kick in, you’ll notice a sizable increase in traffic for your blog. Google Analytics is a free way to track that progress. When your post answers a critical search intent, and is well SEO’d, it can rank for years. Eventually, passing its strong signal to other pages and posts of your site. Think of it like compound interest for content!