Now your job turns to attracting an ever increasing number of visitors to your website, that's what!
Usually the best way to increase the number of visitors to your website and overall pageviews (the amount of traffic or hits) is to increase the number of people who are finding their way to your site organically via search engines like Google.
Attracting more organic visitors is almost always the best way, especially for new websites, because – in contrast to pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaigns – attracting organic traffic involves no outlay of money and – in contrast to backlink referrals and social media - it involves steps that are more within your own control.
It's one thing to say, "To increase your website traffic and be successful, just increase the visitors you are getting from Google". Much easier said than done.
Below, I will show you some step-by-step free methods for how to actually achieve this.
Organic traffic is great precisely because it is free. Ads cost money. And begging for backlinks or hoping your social media efforts will go viral simply take too much time and have low rates of return for the amount of time they take.
Without further ado here are some free ways you can increase the amount of organic visitors your website receives from Google.
Siphon Traffic Away from Competitors (esp Similarly Ranked Sites)
By now I assume you have executed your initial plans, your website is up and running, and your initial inventory of posts is now published.
You probably already have a long list of potential posts you want to draft. I call this my Content Pipeline, my list of future posts. You could just tackle that list and get them done one at a time as soon as you can.
But it's better that you prioritize and – as always – first pick any low hanging fruit or go for any quick wins that are available.
Here's one of the best ways to determine what you should draft and post next.
I call this quick win method my “cherry picking” technique.
Unearth Your Competitors' Top Posts and Winning Keywords
Undoubtedly, when researching materials or reading items of interest, you will come across VPN websites you consider "competitors", those tending to attract the same kind of audience and visitors as your website does.
You should keep track of these competitors, ideally in a Google Doc called something like Competitor A. nalysis
At regular intervals or as you encounter them, examine the website domain of the competitor(s) with the following free tools:
Collectively, these tools will reveal the top-performing pages and corresponding keywords of each domain you enter into them. I do this to learn what keyword search terms my competitors are getting most of their organic traffic from.
If you see that a competitor is getting a relatively high percentage of its traffic from a keyword that "fits" with your site, this valuable information provides rich inspiration for additional posts to add to your Content Pipeline.
By using these tools to analyse your competition and see which of their pages (and corresponding keywords and content) are doing well, you can emulate their success slowly but surely over time by adding posts covering the same keywords.
The free versions of these tools will only show you the 3 or 5 top keywords for a site, but that’s fine for your purposes.
In fact, as a busy VPN blogger, try to look upon the limited, free versions of these tools as better than the premium (paid) versions. That's because the limited information they provide helps ensure you won't be investing hours upon hours analysing your competition. It’s easy with the paid versions of these tools to fall victim to “analysis paralysis”. You don’t have to overdo it.
Anyway, most of them are so expensive that you won’t be tempted to buy the full, premium versions. Stick with the free ones.
Go After the Traffic of Websites That Rank Similar To Yours
The technique above is a great way to siphon off traffic to your site from your competitors. 🙂
But it works especially well for websites that have a similar Alexa ranking as your site. This makes sense as trying to attract the traffic of much high-ranking sites than yours is downright hard.
For example, I once identified a focus keyword on a site having about the same rank as mine that was attracting a double-digit percentage of its total traffic. I wrote and published a post targeting the same focus keyword while ensuring that my post was “better” compared to the post on the competing site. Sure enough, after a couple of months my new post was drawing a good chunk of visitors at the expense of that other VPN site. Sorry (not)!
And there is little doubt that many of these visitors would have otherwise continued to land on my competitor’s site had my post not existed. His or her loss was my gain.
Of course, other VPN sites are trying to do the exact same thing to you!
The absolute key is to make sure that your coverage of the keyword on your website (whether in a single or multiple posts) is better than that of the website you are targeting.
Patience and Consistency is the Key
Even with this technique at your disposal, you will need to be patient.
Like with so much of my advice, you need to keep at it. It’s very often that it takes months to see the dividends of a new post. In fact, it can take a year (or more) for a post to become a top 10 post in Google’s SERPs.
However, don’t be discouraged. If you are regularly planning, drafting and publishing content better than your competitors, you will start to see results.
I don't know how many times I’ve published a post and then been disappointed afterwards when the number of visitors was low, goal completions negligible and commissions zilch.
I used to expect some kind of big bang whenever I published a new post, but it never came.
Then, low and behold, 3 to 6 months later its starts to happen.
Note that this also means if you publish a post and wait to see the fruits of your labour before drafting your next post, you will lose out on many opportunities. So, you must have a steady pipeline of good content because, as mentioned earlier, all your competitors are doing this to you too!
Whether you are engaging in this cherry-picking technique or merging underperforming posts for more effective mega-skyscraper posts (discussed below) or both, the key is to keep at it. Other would-be bloggers will be lazy and give up. In contrast, your perseverance will pay off.
For example, my top post for pageviews now is different than it was 6 months ago, and that top post is different from 6 months before that. You gotta keep at it out!
That doesn't mean you have to post daily or even weekly but regularly. You must let Google know that you mean business and are a good source of fresh, high-quality content and information about your VPN topic(s).
I would tell and point you to some of these posts, but I’m paranoid competitors will use my own techniques against me if I highlight my cash cow pages!
But the opposite is also true. One of my posts was rocking for years. So much so, that I was too afraid to touch it. Then, almost overnight, I was catapulted out of the top 5 results and then out of the top 10. The commissions generated from this post fell equally dramatically.
An excellent analysis by HREFs found that a top ranking page takes up to a year to reach the number one spot. This means it takes time to get there.
But once you are there it also takes that long for your competitors to knock you from the perch.
Eventually they will, but if you are keeping up the pipeline approach, when some of your posts fall in the SERP rankings, others will rise.
In fact, the main sources of your commissions may look very different a year later.
Don't be complacent: keep planning, drafting and publishing using these techniques. Don't fall for fancy shortcuts.
Like so many aspects in life, consistency is king!
Performance Data in Google Search Console is Golden
Another valuable source of information to help guide your writing and publishing efforts is Google Search Console (GSC, for short).
Using GSC, you can see what actual keyword searches done in Google brought visitors to your site.
Adjusting your pages and website based on this data can help you attract more visitors.
Google Search Console displays its performance data in 4 main categories:
- Impressions are the number of times your website’s pages were displayed in Google Search results.
- Clicks are the number of times those displayed pages were actually clicked.
- CTR (short for click-through rate) is simply the ration of Clicks ÷ Impressions.
- Finally, Position is the rank of your page in the displayed result. So, a position of 1 means your page had the top spot in Google’s search results.
If you haven't yet set up Google Search Console for your website, do it - now!
Looking at GSC Performance Data by Keywords Searched
Once your site has been operating a few months, go to Google Search Console and open the Performance Report.
If it is not already applied, make sure the Date: range is set to 'Last 3 months' or longer (see screenshot below).
Also make sure all 4 categories of performance data are selected (see screenshot): Total clicks, Total Impressions, Average CTR and Average Position.
Select the Impressions column header to sort by the most impressions (see screenshot).
Pat yourself on the back for the Queries that have the highest Impressions and that also have good scores for Clicks, CTR and Position. These are your pages that are doing well.
Then carefully look for Queries with high Impressions but low Clicks and CTR. These are underperforming queries (keywords) that represent golden opportunities.
These Queries are keyword searches related to your site but for which your content does not generate clicks to your site. As you would expect, checking the Position column for these underperforming Queries will confirm that they have a poor Position on your site.
The take away?
Plan new posts around these keywords or plan to add these keywords to existing posts, especially those posts ranking outside the top 3, 5 or 10 Positions according to GSC.
What is even more valuable (and complicated) is to do this keyword (Query) analysis on a per page basis on your website. Here’s how.
Looking at Performance with a Focus on the Pages Visited
Follow the same steps above, but instead of Queries, select the Pages data view (as shown below).
GSC will now display the same kind of performance data for each page (post) on your website. Once again, sort these results by most Impressions by clicking on that heading.
The information presented is interesting, but not as interesting as what you'll do next. 🙂
Now, click on the first URL in the list.
You'll notice at the top of the GSC display that the URL has been added as an option along with the Date range (see screenshot).
Now select the Queries data view (see screenshot). GSC will now display the Query performance data for that specific page.
How cool is that?!
As with the previous exercise, sort the data by the Impressions column (see screenshot) and take careful note of any underperforming Queries (those with high Impressions but low Clicks and CTR).
Remember, this keyword data now relates to that specific page on your website. This gives you very specific and rich information about the keywords you should inject into that same existing page or use as the basis for a new page.
Once finished, you can close the Page: [specific URL] option near the top, go back to the Pages data view and perform the same analysis with as many URLs on your site as you like.
If you prefer, for each step you can export the data to Google Sheets or as a CSV (select the download arrow button just above the data column headings) and then dig away at the data looking for keyword opportunities.
Data is Power
This takes a lot of guesswork out of what new content to pursue in your pipeline or which keywords you need to add to exitsing posts to give them a much-needed boost.
Between these GSC techniques and my cherry-picking technique, you should have a robust and soundly researched pipeline of future posts.
BTW, these keywords can also be used to provide rich hints for pay-per-click (PPC) ads. For example, if there are some keywords that are a bit too difficult to easily incorporate into the content of posts, you could always try to acquire those visitors with Google Ads for that keyword and use your post as the landing page for that ad.
Capitalize on Sites That Go Offline
Another easy technique that works well and represents an excellent return on your invested time is to publish "XYZ Alternatives" or “Sites Like XYZ” posts.
Whenever a website related to my topic goes offline for good, I quickly cobble together an XYZ Alternatives or Sites Like XYZ post with a related call to action.
Goal conversions and commissions are nothing special but for the often 30 minutes or less such a post takes to draft and publish, they are well worth it. I have posts ranked #1 in Google using this technique.
If you use a plugin like the free Broken Link Checker, it will quickly bring to your attention any external links that break. This is usually the way I become aware of a site going offline.
If you subscribe to newsletters and/or keep an eye on blogs on your topic, you will also come across these opportunities.
One of the keys is to be quick before your competitors do the same! And even if a competitor beats you to it, just make sure your post is “better” than theirs. 🙂
Improve or Even Merge Underperforming Posts
One lesson that took me a long time to learn was to update existing posts.
For a long while, I was 100% focused on pumping out as many new posts as fast as possible. Some did well, but most languished and attracted few visitors, generated few conversions and earned no commissions.
Then I realized I could squeeze more traffic, goals and commissions by concentrating on some of my existing but underperforming posts rather than by only churning out yet more underperforming posts.
It's easier to double conversions than to double traffic.
Of course, you can only pursue this technique once you have a critical mass of content.
My site was pushing 300 posts with only a handful generating the bulk of my commissions, so it made sense that I should turn to my existing “inventory” of content and see what could be done better.
That’s why I sometimes call this technique “low hanging fruit”.
In most cases, the hard work is already done and it is a matter of tweaking or combining content you’ve already created and invested effort to generate.
Remember, It’s Goal Conversions that Count, not Visitor Traffic or Pageviews
It's easier to double conversions than to double traffic so focus on better goal conversion rates rather than trying to drive more and more traffic. As a bonus, producing better content which improves your conversions will usually also improve your overall (quality) traffic too.
For posts ranking high in SERPs, check and double-check that you have well-placed CTAs.
I experienced good results when I added CTAs closer to the start of high-ranking posts with lots of traffic.
For example, one of my posts was attracting lots of pageviews and average time on page, but it generated little in commissions. Taking a hard look at the post, I realized there was no decent call to action until a visitor scrolled down 4 or 5 screens! This was a golden opportunity waiting to be capitalized on.
In such cases, add callouts like ‘Top Tips’ or ‘Quick Answer’ summaries or a table with some recommendations. These can work well and not hurt traffic or engagement, if they don't scream out sell sell sell.
And remember to make sure the links in these elements open as a new tab in the visitors' browser.
Posts That Are Not Dead Yet
You should also aim to review and boost posts with SERP rankings that are just out of the top 10 positions (or 5 or 3).
Identify these posts in Google Search Console (see the section on Google Search Console above) and give them a boost.
Take a hard second look at the content and add related keywords, authoritative external links or engaging images.
Top Tip - If you are using a visual editor such as Thrive Architect, you can quickly and easily add cool icons that jazz up your posts but don't add to the load time of posts.
Keep Your VPN Site Fresh
Like an unwieldy bush in your yard, your website needs regular trimming too.
Check posts in Google Analytics that have high bounce rates or low visit time and fix them up.
Don't be tempted to delete these posts as they don't really do any harm. Plus, sometimes they can be turned around and transformed into success stories with a little more attention from you.
And it's not just the content that needs tweaking to improve visitor engagement. Your site’s navigation, internal cross-referencing and related recommendations also need occasional tweaking.
Tweaking Your Top 10 Posts
Periodically (every 6 months at a minimum or better yet every 2 to 3 months) renew your top 10 pages.
Print them out and scrutinize them with fresh eyes. Look for ways to improve them and to increase conversions.
Sometimes this means adding new information, updating links (both internal and external) or tweaking calls to action.
When updating content, you may wish to update the post’s published date, as this shows up in Google’s search engine results, so it looks like a fresh and up-to-date post (so-called evergreening).
Sometimes this alone can boost visits and conversions because the SERPs will display the date and people are usually more likely to click on a search result with a more recent date than an older one, all other things being equal (especially if the older post is more than a year older. For some topics, articles need to appear even more up-to-date).
As part of your wider tweaking efforts, you can also add links to some recently trending articles on the topic or spruce up your CTA buttons. All these kinds of actions can help.
As always, use the data from Google Search Console and Google Analytics to inform your efforts. In particular, check any competitor posts that may be sneaking up on your posts’ rankings.
Adjusting a Post’s Focus Keyword
This is a bit of a nuclear option for posts that chronically underperform, cannot be merged and for which other tweaking efforts have failed.
In Google Search Console, isolate a post and check the keyword search data of visitors to that post.
Download the list and open it.
Then, in Google Ads Keyword Planner, paste all the keywords from the Queries column.
When the search volume data is displayed, also download that report and open it.
Now sort both spreadsheets by the Queries/Keyword column. Insert enough columns so you can copy-paste the data you want from one spreadsheet to the other. If you have correctly sorted them, all the rows should be in the same order.
This takes about 5 minutes. Now you can compare actual visitor stats to search volume data which is great information in terms of what you can tweak on a page to bring more visitors.
For example, one of my posts that was not doing well, so I gathered the data as above. It became clear right away that I would be much better off changing the focus keyword of the post to one that had a higher search volume for about the same level of competition and was anyway bringing more visitors to my page.
By aligning the content of my post with the new focus keyword, the post performed much better and didn't take much in the way of tweaking. Sometimes the focus keyword tweaking process can be a mere “find and replace”.
Easy and effective! That’s the ideal combination for a time-starved blogger.
Audit Your Existing Posts with Screaming Frog
Screaming Frog is a freemium software app that analyses websites at a very detailed level. It can be an effective way to find problems and opportunities on your website.
Download Screaming Frog (free for checking 500 URLs of less), run it against your website and then compare the results against the checklist below:
- Titles need to be 40-65 characters and contain the post’s focus keyword. Titles need to be different than the H1.
- H1's need to be less than 8 words, need to contain the post’s focus keyword, need to be different than the title. There should always be an H1 but only 1.
- URL should contain the keyword, should be less than 5 words and should be less than 72 characters in length.
- H2's should contain synonyms or variations of the focus keyword.
- The meta descriptions need to be filled in, need to contain the focus keyword, and need to use as many of the 156 characters available, but not more.
- The meta keywords should be empty as Google doesn't use them. If anything, all they do is serve to tell the competition what keywords you're targeting!
- The image title tags should contain the focus keyword, but each image title tag should be unique.
- Screaming Frog and other tools such as Yoast SEO will calculate the keyword density of your posts which measure how frequently the focus keyword is used as a percentage of a post’s total text. Keyword density in copy is becoming less important and a density of 0.5 to 1.0% is fine; 1 to 4% is no longer necessary.
Don’t let tip #1 confuse you: titles and H1 are often thought to be the same but they are not. The title is what appears in search engine results and the title bar of web browser tabs whereas H1 headers appear at the very start of the post’s body text.
Regarding tip #7 and image tags: the image title tag is the “tool tip” displayed when the mouse cursor is hovered over the image whereas the image alt tag is to help visually impaired people navigate a web page.
The techniques above take time. But they work!
Don't be tempted by lots of offers online for magic bullets that that will increase your traffic overnight. There are no shortcuts, not even paid ones.
There is no substitute for excellent content, consistency and hard work.
Time to make some money!
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