In case you thought that link building is the only way to get traffic in Google’s search results, think again. Though links carry a lot of weigh in Google’s search results, there are a few tricks in current SEO processes that can help you gain search traffic without using links. Even though some of these more optimized sites can improve traffic one way or the other, many of these are established practices for the more experienced SEO processes.
1. Well-researched articles
In-depth articles are present in not less than 65 Google search results. Although not a very huge number, a significant increase in traffic can be seen by the articles that qualify.
Your content could also qualify to appear if you add a few signals to your HTML. The following are a few suggested markups by Google to do so:
- Schema.org article markup
- Authorship of Google+
- Best practices like canonicalization and pagination
- Logo markup
- For pay wall contents – First Click Free
Some sites that don’t have the ideal semantic markup implemented may qualify even though it appears that Google favors authorities in news sites for the inclusion of in-depth articles.
2. Enhanced user satisfaction
Enhancing a user’s onsite experience can considerably improve your Google rankings. The effect of user experience, therefore, may be even larger than we realize.
Google can measure user satisfaction when a user clicks on your website and its panda algorithm punishes your website if it’s ‘low in quality.’ Keeping your visitors satisfied onsite your site can reduce this phenomenon, commonly called pogo sticking or return-to-SERP. In fact, some SEOs believe that you might get rewarded by Google if you increase your position on Google by enhancing your user experience.
While there is no concrete evidence of pogo sticking in Google’s search results, enough patents, interviews and analysis have been found which suggest that it is possible and in fact, might be the least utilized technique in SEO today.
3. Structured data giving rich snippets
Google constantly expands the type of rich snippets shown in search results. Two popular types of markups for increasing traffic to a website are videos and authorships.
4. Video optimization
Video snippets capture more search results interests compared to other type of snippets; much more even than authorship pictures. Video snippets, compared to author photos, are easier to display besides not needing to connect to a Google+ account. Generally, video snippets require you to create a video XML sitemap and add a schema.org video markup.
5. Authorship of Google
Scoring the coveted author photo in Google search results can help increase traffic to your website by increasing your click-through rate. While there are no fixed rules that make a good author photo, certain common factors have been found to help such as:
- Use a real face instead of a company logo, cartoon or an icon
- Use high contrasting colors that will make the picture stand out from its background
- Use a target audience-oriented picture
If authorship is implemented correctly, you might be one of the 20% of all search results that have author photos in them despite the fact that Google these days has become more selective about the photos it chooses to show.
6. Enhancing site speed
One of the few ranking factors confirmed by Google is improved site speed. Improving a site’s speed not only enhances visitor satisfaction, but might also directly influence your search rankings. It was learnt recently that the actual speed of the page load is far less crucial than the amount of time it took for a server to respond to a request, or Time To First Bite (TTFB).
Google considers speed enhancement to be even more crucial for mobile devices than for computer searches. According to it, ‘optimizing a page’s loading time on smartphones is particularly important given the characteristics of mobile data networks smartphones are connected to.’
7. SEO for portable devices
Apart from an enhanced speed, it is essential for your website to be optimized for smartphones. A lot of traffic is lost if Google search results are lower due to smartphone errors which may, in turn, lower mobile rankings. A few smartphone errors include:
- Visitors get redirected to the wrong mobile URL
- Embedded videos that do not play on a particular phone
- Pop ups that are difficult to close on certain mobiles
- Font size is too small for the mobile device
8. Increasing the number of international users
It is often easier to appear in international search results where competition is lesser compared to staying within one’s own country. Having international visibility will help you improve traffic to your website.
9. Google+ and its social annotations
As opposed to when you are sharing content on social networking sites, sharing it on Google+ makes it visible to your network every time it searches Google.
Studies show that even when users are presented with videos and other rich snippets, they are still fixated on social annotations. To use this to your advantage, share good quality content regularly and frequently. Content shared on Google+ also ranks in regular search results often, which can make your content visible to everyone irrespective of their social connotations.
10. Optimizing snippets
Owing to the changes in Google over the last two years, the character count does not matter anymore with regard to the maximum length of title tags. Instead, what matters are the number of the pixels used which should generally be around 500 pixels in length. It is advisable to have between 60 and 80 characters in titles to avoid difficulties when writing titles.
Google advises that duplicate Meta description should be avoided and that descriptions should be unique for each page or be avoided altogether. Matt Cutts, former head of the web spam team at Google, says: “You can either have a unique Meta tag description, or you can choose to have no Meta tag description.”
Going by this recommendation, we can infer that since duplicate Meta descriptions get flagged in webmaster tools, Google ranks repeated Meta descriptions as a negative.
11. Updating fresh content
Websites that do not earn new links and / or never add new content to their page fall out of favor when it comes to Google search results.
Although it is not guaranteed that refreshed content will give your site a ranking boost, it definitely helps in certain kinds of queries.
Google has different ways of scoring freshness, some of which may include:
- Date of inception
- Amount of changes your contents gets
- How often your content is updated
- How many pages are created over time
- Changes to important content (homepage text) vs unimportant content (footer links)
Uploading fresh content
The above mentioned factors are only the tip of the iceberg in this colossal glacier of earning search result areas. Other issues like indexing, crawling, canonicalization, duplicate content, site architecture, keyword research, internal linking and image optimization can move the ranking mountains.
All of these considerations taken together make the job of SEOs that much more complex and replete with greater opportunities year on year.