Driving Website Traffic with SEO and SEM

When planning your website, there are two main considerations.  The first is something we’ve talked about in detail previously: identifying your site conversion goals.  Conversion goals are actions you want your visitors to perform such as filling out contact forms, watching videos, downloading PDFs and phoning you.  The second consideration is how we drive traffic to the site so that they may complete these conversion goals.  In the brick and mortar world, spaces with lots of foot traffic are usually rented or sold at a premium.  In the digital world, it’s up to the site itself and the marketing strategies employed to increase your number of visitors.  Unfortunately, the strategy of “if you build it, he will come” doesn’t work well on it’s own, but there are strategies you can use to increase traffic.

Traffic can come from many sources including email campaigns and social media.  Search engines are typically the most important source of traffic and generate highest volume of traffic for most websites.  Google commands about 90% of both the Canadian and worldwide market share, making it the single most important source of traffic for most websites.  Getting highly ranked on Google can open the floodgates of potential customers.  Alternatively, having a poor ranking on the search results page can make it hard for people to even know your business exists, and worse still drive your prospective customers to your competitors’ websites. 

You can either rank highly in the search results organically or pay for ads that put you on top of the results. Simply put, that is the difference between search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM).  SEM is helpful creating awareness and is particularly effective for events and awareness campaigns, pushing your message out in a rapid manner.  SEO shines when you want a stream of visitors for a long period of time without paying for each click.    

Onsite SEO are the things you can do with your website to help improve search results.  Offsite SEO are things that can be done to improve your results that involve other websites. 

Let’s start with on-site SEO, or as it’s sometimes called, on-page SEO.  As this component is focused on your own website, you have the most direct control over it.  What can you do to improve your on-site SEO?

  • Develop Content – great content is one of the best ways to generate site traffic.  By producing helpful content and articles, you increase your likelihood of being found in search.  Even if the article isn’t directly related to your products or services and positions you as an authority. 
  • Make sure the site is optimized from a technical perspective including page load speeds, using appropriate headers, alt text and structured data
  • Make sure your URLs are well formatted – try and capture your page’s purpose in the page title and link

Offsite SEO can be time consuming, but it will often provide excellent results as well.

  • Social Media – get mentions in social media, whether that’s LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or the numerous other social media sites
  • Get links from other sites that point to your site or your article.  You can do this by guest blogging, by providing excellent content that others want to reference.  In this case natural links, things that others do organically simply because they like your content is both a high compliment, and the best way for Google to treat your website as having expertise, authoritativeness and trust (EAT) which is a big factor in your search ranking.

SEO and SEM are very big topics, and we’ve only scratched the surface.  The important thing to take away is if you are unhappy with the amount of traffic you are getting, or you are concerned that competitors are outperforming you locally there are steps you can take to improve your search results.  There’s nothing else that feels quite as good as ending up #1 on the search results page and without having to pay to get there.