When I was growing up, I lived on a farm where we had to everything ourselves, from remodeling the house to fixing our cars. In fact, over the summers we would buy an old muscle car, take it apart and rebuild it from the ground up! Times and cars were much simpler back then.
Today, cars have gotten so sophisticated and engines are set up where I can’t even change my own oil! And in many ways, SEO has become similar. Most practices feel they can’t do anything except rely solely on an SEO agency, where they don’t understand their strategy or what they do.
However, there are things that you can and should do to help yourself.
Understanding What’s Changed
Years ago, search engines relied primarily on your website (content, headings, optimization programming, etc.) and other off-site signals such as links from other relevant websites to gauge the quality of your website and pages, and ultimately determine how they rank.
Of course those elements still have an impact on your listings, but no longer are they the only indicators of quality for Google. Search engines have become highly sophisticated in learning more and more about its users (ex. the Google Brain team).
A big shift in SEO ranking factors is a focus on your website visitors. Some examples of this emphasis on user experience include:
Mobile-First – As mobile Internet usage has overtaken desktop, Google has made it very clear that it is focusing on the user experience of its mobile audience. Having a mobile-friendly website is essential and Google has published that it also prefers a responsive design that adjusts dynamically to the user’s browser. In addition, Google also announced that it has shifted from a desktop-first approach to indexing its search results to one that emphasizes mobile-first factors. These changes definitely demonstrate that user experience is a major factor in how websites get indexed.
Site Speed – How quickly websites and page load has a big impact on user experience. Google recognizes this and even provides a tool to measure your website’s load speed for desktop and mobile browsers. In addition, Google’s Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP) project combines its focus on both site speed and mobile to enhance its users’ experience.
Google Analytics – Although Google indicates that adding Google Analytics code to your website is not a ranking factor in its algorithm, the data it tracks and monitors concentrates on your website visitors and their activities surrounding their experience with your site. It now also provides more details on users, including consumer search queries used to find your website through the new Search Console feature.
Bounce Rates – Studies have shown that higher ranking websites tend to have lower bounce rates (visitors that enter a page and then exit).
Visit Duration – How long visitors stay on the site and specifically target “destination” pages also appears to influence how Google views and ranks your site or page.
Assets – Higher performing pages also tend to not simply be limited to text content. Pages that visually enhance the user experience and comprehension (photos, graphics and particularly videos) also have greater consumer value and likely rank higher.
All of these factors focus on how visitors experience your website and send important signals to Google as to the quality of your content and the value you offer to users.
What About Returning Visitors?
One area the majority of practices overlook when reviewing their website traffic data is returning visitors. In fact, most have little interest in growing that number and only fixate on new visitors. However, returning visitors possess great opportunity for your practice and website.
The underlying signal returning visitors (and direct traffic) send to search engines is that the website is useful and memorable. If the vast majority of your website visitors are new, they bounce, and are one-and-done (never returning), it tells search engines that your site is not very sticky and visitors don’t like it enough to come back.
Improve Your User Statistics
In addition to sending the right message to Google that your site is worthy, retuning visitors who have already been to your site also tend to be much more engaged with your content and stay longer; all positive SEO signals.
Let me use our own website (www.page1solutions.com) as an example. The below recent Google Analytics data shows our top 10 visited pages.
Four of them are related to our blog, and three of them are actual blog posts, which we aggressively promote though our internal marketing efforts.
- The red arrows show that three out of our top 10 pages are blog posts.
- The red boxes identify how often each was the entry page for visitors to the website. Compared to the total views to each blog, it is obvious that the vast majority of traffic to these blogs were driven by outside referring sources.
- The yellow highlights indicate that the visitors driven to these pages stayed on them significantly longer than all other pages; boosting the overall average user session duration!
Internal Marketing Tips
Tip #1 Database Email Marketing: Email must be an essential part of your internal marketing strategy. Your practice needs to constantly focus on building your database of clients, past clients, referring professionals, referring friends, and all new prospective clients. This includes capturing contact information and email addresses on all incoming leads.
Tip #2 e-Newsletters: E-newsletters have the potential to post a number of elements including articles, practice updates, news, motivational elements, helpful tips, and promotions. One important key is to publish only a portion of your articles and link to the website to read the full article. Other elements in your newsletter can also link to target website sections and pages. Check out our 20 Ways To Boost Your E-Newsletter Results.
Tip #3 Social Media: As much as we want to leverage social media management as outreach and gaining new customers, it still remains primarily a relationship-building and nurturing platform for your existing contacts and online community. Make sure at least 50 percent of your posts promote and link to timely, relevant website content and pages.
Tip #4 Invest in Quality Content: As our Google Analytics data shows, investing in higher quality, useful, engaging and share-worthy content will make a substantive difference in your visitors’ experience, their time on your site and earn repeat visits.
Tip #5 Follow-Up Sales: Timing drives interest. New leads and prospects in the research and sales cycle tend to be in the frame of mind where your services, information and consumer resources are of the greatest interest. By developing resource pages to support your follow up sales efforts and linking to them, you drive consumers who are hungry for your information and stimulate higher quality website visits.
If you have questions or would like to learn more about strategies that can boost your internal marketing and SEO, call us at 800-368-9910.
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