SEO Tips to Increase Organic Traffic

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1. Rank Content in Google’s Featured Snippet

You may have come across the Featured Snippet within the search results on a number of occasions. It’s appearing more and more frequently for question-based keywords, for example, “how to create a graph in excel”.

Featured Snippet SERP

The Featured Snippet section appearing inside the first page of Google is an incredibly important section to have your content placed within. I did a study of over 5,000 keywords where HubSpot.com ranked on page 1 and there was a Featured Snippet being displayed. What I found was that when HubSpot.com was ranking in the Featured Snippet, the average click-through rate to the website increased by over 114%.

Featured Snippet CTR

I spent a lot of time studying the factors that contribute highly towards ranking within the Featured Snippet. What I found was as follows:

  1. Links don’t matter that much for ranking in the Featured Snippet when you already rank on page one of Google.
  2. You should aim to have the target search keyword within one of the HTML headers in your content (e.g. H2, H3, etc.).
  3. Directly beneath the header that contains the target keyword, you should write the answer to the question, keeping it between 54–58 words in length.
  4. Google doesn’t always include a whole paragraph of text in the Featured Snippet. If you add “Step 1,” “Step 2,” “Step 3,” etc. to the start of each HTML heading within your content (for example, within your H2 tags), Google will sometimes just list out your headings within the Featured Snippet. I’ve started to see this happen more and more in keywords beginning with “how to”.
  5. For shorter, less question-orientated keywords; for example, “Content Marketing”, Google frequently pulls through a paragraph of text as opposed to a step-by-step section. With these keywords, pay close attention to the structure of your page.
  6. Google tends to prefer Featured Snippet content that begin logically as an answer would. For example, the answer will begin with, “Start by”, “The first step is”, etc.

You can use a tool like SEMrush to find different keywords that you rank for where there is a Featured Snippet. Here’s a good guide from Glenn Gabe that will show you exactly how to do that.

Once you find a load of Featured Snippet opportunities, go through your existing content and just update it to adhere to the rules that I outlined above. You should then start seeing some improvements over the coming few weeks, especially if you already rank in the top 5 results on page 1.

2. Link Reclamation

How effective this SEO technique is will vary depending on your type of business.

For large brands, this tactic alone can bring through thousands of new links with relatively little effort. That said, you don’t need to be a big brand for this to get you some results.

In short, this tactic is all about finding when someone has mentioned you, your business, your product/service or your content without actually linking to you. Once you find someone that’s done this you can then get in touch with them and simply request that they add a link to your website.

Sounds simple, right? Well, it is! The conversion rate and return on your time here is surprisingly high.

We do this on a regular basis at HubSpot, and I’ve also done this within countless projects I’ve worked on. Here’s my process for scaling it:

Step 1: Monitor Brand Mentions

The first step in the process is to actually find out when you’re being mentioned online.

My favourite tool of choice (and it has a free version) is Mention (you can also use BuzzSumo for this). You can quickly set up alerts by adding any keywords related to your brand or products (I’d recommend separating these out).

Setting up alerts within Menton

Make sure that you exclude any mentions from your own website within the alert. You can do this within the settings.

Step 2: Set up Daily Email Alerts

Once you’ve set up an alert within Mention, go to your settings and then ‘Manage Notifications’. From here you can select the option to get a daily digest email of any mentions (I’d recommend doing this). You also have the option of getting desktop alerts – I personally find them annoying, but if you really want to stay on the ball then they could be a good idea.

Mention email alerts

Step 3: Checking for Links

There are ways to do a bulk search on a list of URLs to check if any of the pages contain a link to yours, but if you’re checking this on a daily basis, it’s probably just as fast to do a quick manual check.

If you do want to perform a bulk check then you can use the SEO Tools Plugin for Excel.

To speed up the manual checking process, go to each webpage, right-click and then select ‘View Page Source’. Once you’re viewing the source code, you can run a quick search within your web browser (CMD+F or CTRL+F) and search for your domain name. If it doesn’t appear in the HTML of the webpage then they haven’t linked to you.

These are the opportunities that you’re looking for.

Step 4: Gathering Contact Details

Once you’ve identified an opportunity, you’ll want to find a way of getting in touch with the website owner or author (best the author if you can) to request that they update the mention of you/your brand.

The contact or ‘about us’ page is your best starting place, but if they don’t list an email address or have a contact form, you may want to follow some of the tips for finding email addresses here.

Step 5: Reaching Out

If you manage to get an email address from the website, you’ll want to get in touch with them as soon as possible to add a link to their webpage. I’ve found that the nearer you do this to the date it was published, the higher the conversion rate.

Here’s an example email template that you can use:

Hi {{FirstName}},

First of all, I’d like to thank you for mentioning {{Your Brand or Product Name}} within your recent article. It means a lot!

I noticed within the article that you didn’t actually link through to our website when you mentioned us. Is there any chance that you can quickly update the post with a link? Here’s the link to save you time searching for it: {{Link to Your HomePage or Product Page}}

Thanks in advance, and if you ever need any more info on {{Your Brand or Product Name}} then I’d be happy to supply you with it (imagery, video content, etc.).

Thanks again!

{{Your Signature}}

I would recommend that you use a tool like BuzzStream to manage the outreach process because you can save your email templates within their platform and test response rates, etc. You can also mark whether your outreach has been successful for each of the websites you reach out to.

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3. Community Hijacking

When it comes to traffic generation and link building, this is one of my favourite techniques. It works better in some industries over others, but in one way or another you’ll be able to take advantage of this approach.

Community hijacking involves finding online communities that are made up of your target market, or people that can reach your target market so that you can build a relationship with them and get them to promote your content/brand/product(s).

Here are a few examples of this in action…

Example 1: Lookbook

Lookbook.nu Community

Lookbook.nu is an online community of fashion enthusiasts (over 1.2 million of them) that publish photographs of themselves in different outfits, mentioning each of the products that make up their outfit.

This community is full of opportunities if you’re a fashion-based retailer. One of the major advantages is the fact that they add links to each of the products that they feature within their outfits – the links go directly to product pages. This is the holy grail for ecommerce SEO, and the traffic those links will bring through will convert at a very high rate.

Lookbook outfit

The above image is an example of an outfit that a user has posted on Lookbook, with links to all of the products they’re wearing (all of which pass on valuable PageRank).

As a brand, your goal is to get featured by some of the top users on the site. You can find out how popular a user is by checking out how many “Fans” they have as well as their “Karma” score – this is all publicly available on their profile page.

I ran a campaign targeting Lookbook users to form partnerships that consisted of giving them products to wear in return for them featuring the products on their Lookbook site. If you work with the right people, this will scale very well.

To find the right people I downloaded a list of some of the most popular users within the community. To do this, I used Screaming Frog SEO Spider to gather a list of all the URLs on the website. I then exported this list into an Excel spreadsheet and filtered the URLs to only show those that were user profile pages. I could do this because all of the profile pages had /user/ within the URL.

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