To learn how to get free traffic using Google, you need to learn how Google actually works.
Google’s Legion of Spiders
We’ll start with a metaphor from Thomas McMahon:
Imagine that Google has a staff of diligent and highly trained spiders. Every day these spiders go out and “crawl” the web. They scan every webpage so they can bring them back for Google to index and, if they’re relevant, serve up in search results.
This process works through URL connections. Google will go from a “Home” page to an “About Us” page to any outbound URL that is linked on that page.
The Basic Foundation of SEO
Believe it or not, Google is a machine so it can’t actually read the page to understand what’s on it and what’s relevant. However, the engineers at Google can and they’ve created sophisticated algorithms to deduce what information a page includes including the words on it, the metadata, and the behind the scenes technology that makes a page work.
This basic concept is the foundation of all search engine optimization. No matter how often the engineers at Google change the algorithm, the way content creators categorize their content will always be important to indicating what is on a page.
Why is SEO important to get free traffic using Google?
Building your page with better indicators of where the important stuff is makes the indexing process easier for Google. Thomas McMahon puts it this way:
“The better Google can index your site, the more likely it is to serve specific pages for search terms around what your page is covering.”
Narrow Down Your Niche
The first step to getting free traffic using Google is narrowing down your niche. Intuitively, you might think paring down your content to a specific demographic is going to limit your traffic and exposure but the opposite is true. The more specific you get with your content, the easier it is for Google to provide it to the right people.
Start Answering Questions
Once you’ve determined your ideal audience, start asking questions that you think they would search for.
If your demographic is new gardeners in the Pacific Northwest, you might jot down a list like this:
- What grows in Oregon?
- Do tulips grows in Washington?
- What zones are in WA?
- How much rain does Idaho get?
- Is Idaho in the Pacific Northwest?
- What should I plant in May in Zone 3?
And so on, and so forth.
Hyper-focus is the Key
This kind of list exercise will help you hyper-focus your content and thus help Google get it to the right people. Hyper-focus is the key to getting individual pages to rank. Remember, you’re not trying to get your entire site to rank on the first page of Google; you’re only concerned with specific pages.
A good tool for developing these hyper-focused problem-solution questions is AnswerThePublic. Utilize tools like this to narrow in on your content and consistently improve the way you’re providing information.
Backlinks Make the Web Go ‘Round
Once you start deep diving into the content that already exists around your niche, you’re probably wondering why some pages rank higher than others. Well, indexing is only part of the equation.
Google has additional metrics that indicate pages that are more trustworthy and reliable. One way that Google does this is through backlinks.
Backlinks are links to your page that live on other websites outside from yours. To Google, these backlinks indicate legitimacy and improve the rank of your content. The more backlinks you have, the more likely you are to rank higher on Google.
Of course, like everything, there are ways to game the system. The good folks at Google realized this too and added a punitive measure to their algorithm to deter blackhat SEO tricks like this. You’re going to want to collect those organic backlinks if you to move up the search results.
Quality Content and User Experience
People stay longer on pages that look and feel good. So if you want to improve your Google rankings, start with improving the look, feel, and functionality of your site. The “Time on Page” metric that is tracked by Google Analytics not only influences rank, it indicates to you how compelling and engaging your content is.
You might be thinking that this is a lot of work just for some free traffic from Google. And you’re right–this is a lot of work. But the lucrative potential that comes with having your content on the first page of a search results is worth it.
Let the Google Traffic Commence
Once you start to work with your content, design, and backlink campaigns, you’ll start to notice that some things are working. This is when you’ll need to familiarize yourself with Google Analytics–trust us. You’re going to need it.
Once you start to notice your rankings improving and your traffic increasing, if you want to make the most of these new page visitors, you’ll want to start turning them into leads through an email capture. Use your affiliate marketing genius to concoct a lead magnet and move these visitors down a funnel to get them on your email list.
Optimizing your site and working on your rankings is the best “free” way to get traffic from Google. Of course, as mentioned in a previous blog on free traffic, this only counts for free if you’re not considering your time and the cost to host and maintain a website. Free or not, going through these steps for all of your content is a very valuable thing to do to scale your business. How many of us ever venture past that first search results page? The answer to that alone should prove the worth of this process.
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