Ask the experts! Helga Moreno is a content creator and marketer at Ahrefs, and shares her knowledge with us:
Do you think that building links that boost your domain rating and adding new content are the only ways to increase traffic to your website from the search engines? Am I right?
Ok, would you like to know how to increase your search traffic without having to do the above?
I am going to show you 3 working methods:
- You’ll get to know how to increase search traffic by nearly 50% with ‘The Merger Method’
- By filling gaps in existing content
- And how to increase search traffic by 50+% by switching ‘main’ keywords
Are you ready to take notes?
Keyword Cannibalization and the Merger Method
Have you heard about ‘keyword cannibalization’? The phenomenon happens when multiple pages on your site are targeting one and the same keyword. It’s not a big problem, but letting such things happen can hardly be called SEO wise. It will confuse Google. She won’t know which page to rank. The link equity will be split across multiple pieces of content.
Did you know that the Merger Method is a way to solve your keyword cannibalization issues and boost your search traffic during the process?
The Merger Method can be considered one of the best tactics to get quick organic traffic gains. When you merge competing pieces of content into one asset you avoid keyword cannibalization and place all the authority in one place. This often results in almost immediate rankings and organic traffic growth. For instance, you have a couple of studies including some really cool data and a guide consuming all the search traffic. So your studies don’t get enough attention. Your guide is quality but not good enough for a top ranking. Here’s what you can do:
Combine your 3 posts into 1 comprehensive guide. If you rewrite the guide and add your unique data, it will turn into the best content for the keyword.
This is the essence of the Merger Method. You combine many pieces of average content and create the most bombastic resource on the web for your keyword. Publish your new guide under the URL‘anchor-text’ to fit your keyword targeting. Then redirect the old URLs. This is the final step of this super simple process. Just 301 redirect the old posts to the new URL. But that’s not all, I am going to tell you something super cool about this technique.
All 3 pages we have mentioned above had already acquired some backlinks before. This means that before you applied the Merger Method, the link equity was split three ways. But after putting the posts together all those links started to point at 1 piece of content and supercharge its efficiently. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
What results can you get with the Merger Method?
Run your regular promotion strategy and experience a noticeable traffic boost to the new guide.
Pick up a heap of social shares and fresh links and increase your organic search traffic by 50+% compared to original posts.
When do I use the Merger Method
It’s worth to consider combining multiple pages on your site targeting the same keyword into one piece of mega content.
Don’t forget about the 301-redirect of the old URLs to compile all the link equity in one place.
How to increase search traffic by filling gaps in existing content
Do you still write long, wordy texts to get more traffic to your website? Do you send out hundreds of outreach emails in order to get more backlinks and boost your organic search traffic? But do you remember that traffic to new content isn’t the only traffic we can hook? Below I am going to highlight a simple trick you may use to increase the traffic to the existing pages on your website. No link building required!
Let’s imagine that you rank at position 40+ and are getting little to no traffic. Here are the steps to undertake to increase the page’s traffic:
Identify Current Ranking Keywords and Positions
The first step you should take is to identify which keywords the analyzed page is currently ranking for as well as the positions it ranks at.
You may do this using your favorite marketing tool that does keyword rankings and positions. It will return you a list of all keywords where the page currently ranks in the top 100 results.
Identify the Competition
Take the second step: identify the competition. This is natural as you need to know who you are fighting against before starting to update your content. If you don’t see your website among the top results, there is content out there that is doing better than yours. So, do a Google search for your target keyword. Visit all pages in the top 10 results.
You’ll need to figure out which parts of the content are better than yours for each page.
You may use the guidelines below:
- Is your content’s quality “worse” than this content? Please be candid.
- Is the length of your article sufficient? Does it cover the subject deeply?
- Which aspects of the topic are your page not covering completely?
- Which “user intent” queries is your content not answering?
- What could make your content better?
- Could you use any cool imagery or diagrams to supplement your content?
- Could you paste any YouTube or other videos which can add value to your content?
Do everything mentioned above for all the pages that can be improved. It may be hard to do for the first few, the rest will likely follow a similar pattern.
Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts. You have to review all the pages which outrank yours to make sure that you leave no gaps.
Update Your Content to Meet Search Queries
Once you’ve seen what you are fighting against, update your content. It must be better than the competition. Do you remember that it must fully answer the user search intent? I have stated this above. Just make it the best content available out there.
Having analysed your competitors’ content, you should have a clear picture of what yours is missing. Improve/supplement your existing content with necessary additions but don’t do the following:
- Don’t rewrite it entirely as you’ll lose the content Google was ranking you for before the update.
- Don’t write a new post hoping that it will rank better. This will take you longer and will be harder than pushing up the article that already exists.
- Whatever happens, don’t change the URL.
Use competitive research to make up a plan of what needs to be added or updated and Google will notice your efforts by all means.
Amplify SEO Performance with Missing Content
Looking through the organic keywords which you are ranking for you might come across user search intent keywords you have no content for.
Answering these queries is very important, so make sure not to miss them.
Keywords Still Rule in SEO
There has been a lot of talking about user search intent recently. If you are starting to think that keywords are no longer relevant, you are mistaken. Keywords still help Google understand what your content is about, and she will use them to rank it. Ranking signals have increased, that’s the truth, but never ever think that keywords are not relevant anymore. So, if keywords still rule what should you do about it? This is pretty obvious: use the keywords which you are already ranking for. Use keywords which you are ranking for, but for which you have not yet achieved the top results in your content.
Use the keywords in headings and subheadings if it makes sense for that content and you can avoid keyword stuffing. If using keywords in headings imparts your content a spammy feel, use them in the content.Sure enough, the lengthier and more in-depth the updated content is, the easier it is to include plenty of the organic keywords into it.
Add Engaging Content
Dwell time or ‘the long click’ ranking factor is becoming even more significant to Google. What I want to say is that Google would rank higher the pages that engage the visitors. How can they measure users’ engagement? By recording the time spent on-site. This will be the time between a user clicking a search result and returning to the search page.
Ok, now let’s think what can you do to keep visitors on your web page longer?
Here are some tricks:
- Sufficient content length. Longer content, which remains engaging all the time results in a longer time spent on page. Tons of studies, including Ahrefs’ 2m keyword study, have proven that longer content correlates with rankings.
- Embedded media. Embedding YouTube or other videos related to your content can help to prolong time on page and make your content more engaging as well.
- Interlinking. Linking to other useful articles available on your blog and encouraging further exploration will also increase time on site.
Give Your Content an Extra Kick
Here are a few ways that will help your content climb several positions upwards:
- Write an irresistible search title that encourages click-throughs. If you have a high click-through rate from the search results, Google will reward your web page with better rankings.
- Make use of the internal links. Internal links are much easier to obtain than external ones and you have full control over the anchor keywords you want to use.
- Get a fresh view on your content. Here you may use social media marketing, email blasts and other methods of promotion you can think of. This will play its role and send good signals to Google.
When to use the “filling gaps in the existing content” strategy
This tactic is especially effective when you apply it to content which focuses on advice, tutorials or other educational content.
Repeat this exercise regularly and you’ll see a noticeable improvement in your organic search results, which means more traffic to your website, of course.
How to increase search traffic by 50+% by switching ‘Main’ keywords on existing content
If you want to take things further than we described above, you may try to switch out the main target keywords for some of the old articles. In some cases, this may also include changing the URL. The result may be tremendous, like 50+% increase in organic search traffic. Let’s understand why this can happen and then discuss the process.
Why Does Switching Keywords work?
Supposing you run a reasonably high traffic, viral type of site. Your web resource is multi-author and the majority of its traffic comes from social media. Your keyword research has been a little neglected, which means that you are losing traffic. What time is it now? It’s time to make corrections.
The Keyword Correction Process
Change the targeting for a number of your existing pages. The search volumes on their own might not be huge, but all together the technique will lead to a big rise in traffic. Traffic should continue to increase as the pages grow older and move up the rankings for the new keywords. To make this strategy even more efficient combine this process with the one described above. Fill in the gaps and make it the best article for the particular keyword.But let’s put the steps you should take into order:
- Switch the target keyword
- Change the post title and URL
- Change the SEO settings
- Setup a 301 redirect
Don’t forget about 301 redirect of the old address to the new one if you change the URL. We, at Ahrefs, use a cool free ‘Redirection’ plugin to manage redirects. All you need to do is enter the old URL and set the new target URL. That’s it. Once that’s all set up, there’s just one task left:
- Make Google re-crawl the page
You can just wait for Google to re-index your page naturally, but to speed up the process use fetch as Google > submit to index in Search Console.
That’s it, you’re done. Your post is now optimized for the new keyword. As the result, you will double the page’s search traffic by simply switching the keyword targeting.
When to use this strategy
This process is excellent for drawing extra traffic to pages that are not currently performing quite well in search.
When you implement it on multiple pages it can quickly lead to a huge leap in search traffic. This is particularly true for the large sites.
When not to use this strategy
This strategy can hardly be called a high-risk one. However, if your page is already performing well in search, then you’d better stick to the second method.
So, these were 3 strategies you can implement to increase traffic to your website without building links or adding new pages.
One more advice is to audit your content regularly and look for opportunities to improve your existing rankings. If you don’t, then you’re losing traffic.
Will You Boost Traffic Without New Links or Content?
It’s your turn to talk now. Have you used any of these strategies on your own site? Do you have any questions, or maybe even insights to share? Any feedback is welcome, so please drop me a line below!
About the author
Helga Moreno is a passionate content creator and marketer at Ahrefs bold enough to believe that if there’s a book that she wants to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then she must write it herself.
Photos by Pascal Diekmann, Aaron Burden, Joe Gardner and Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash.
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