How We Increased Search Traffic 373% in 6 Weeks

Mention
Mention
Dec 20, 2016 · 18 min read

A little background

At the end of 2015, Mention was doing well.

How to use these SEO tips

We’ve divided this into two sections:

  • Phase 2: Technical fixes

1. Focus on user experience

This is the central theme of our story. Every step should make your site’s user experience better. If you make decisions that harm it, Google will penalize you and your search rank will suffer.

2. Maximize “link juice”

We’re going to use this term a lot. Think of backlinks like references in your resume. The better the references, the bigger the boost they give your job application. Google looks at backlinks the same way.

Phase 1: keywords and content creation

Phase one of our SEO strategy was getting serious about using keywords well. Previously, this hadn’t been a big priority. But if you want people to find you on Google, you need to choose the right keywords and feature them prominently.

How we choose the right keywords to target

There are three factors to consider when choosing a great keyword:

  1. Difficulty: how competitive that keyword is
  2. Are potential customers using this keyword? This is the most important factor

1. Volume

Simply put, higher volume is better. The more people that search for your keyword, the more of them that might find your page.

2. Difficulty

In basic terms, this tells you how hard it will be to rank for your chosen keyword. The more difficult a term is to rank for, the more work it’ll take to rank for it.

  • How much domain authority do you currently have?
  • What do you stand to gain?

3. Are potential customers using this keyword?

This consideration is often overlooked, but it’s the most important. If the wrong people visit your site, they won’t buy your product and may even lower your search rankings.

The semantic universe

It makes sense that when targeting a keyword, you should use it wherever possible, right? Actually, no.

What to do now

Choose your keywords. Make sure they have good volume, aren’t too difficult, and suit customer intent.

Phase 2: technical fixes

This is the fun stuff. Each of these changes will make a difference to your search rankings. While these fixes are “technical” in nature, we’ll give you everything you need to do them yourself.

1. Get your headings right

Headings are a big deal for SEO. They tell Google exactly what’s on each page. If you don’t use them correctly, your page isn’t going to rank well.

Focus on heading order

Heading order is important for SEO:

Protect H1s and H2s

H1 and H2 are the highest value heading types. Google looks for keywords everywhere, but especiallyhere.

Use fake headers if necessary

Headers are supposed to be used to style the web page. So what if you want H2-style text that doesn’t use any keywords?

2. Change your 302 redirect links to 301

When Mention redesigned our homepage, the URL went from www.en.mention.com to www.mention.com/en (or /fr for French, etc). For some reason, we used a 302 redirect.

How do redirections affect search rankings?

301 redirections carry link juice with them. You’ve told Google that page B replaces page A, and that users can get the same great value from the new page as they did from the old.

What to do now

Check for 302 redirections to permanent content, and change ‘em!

3. Watch out for duplicate content

Google’s on the lookout for duplicate content. It sees this as keyword stuffing and will penalize you for it. That’s bad. Really, really bad.

Declare the language of your HTML page

Note: this is for sites in multiple languages.

  1. Get the correct language code from IANA.org.
  2. Insert language tags. They look like this: <html lang=”fr”> (fr for French, en for English, etc).

De-index pages that shouldn’t be public

This is absolutely essential. It sounds technical, but it’s not.

  • Add no-index tags to the <head> section of each page. Rohit provides a detailed walkthrough of this in his post.

4. Improve your internal website linking structure

In the first half of this post, we talked about choosing keywords. Here’s where we really start to benefit from them.

  • Logical URL structure
  • Updated anchor text for internal links

Updating the new navigation bar

You should definitely include keywords in your navigation bar. Kristina Kledzik says this is key, as “every link in the universal navigation will have a backlink from every page on your site.” So if you’re trying to rank for certain keywords, it’s an opportunity to give those pages extra link juice.

Using a logical URL structure

URLs are great real estate for keywords. Add keywords to them so Google has an easier time determining what your page is about.

Optimizing anchor text

The clickable text for a link is another place to use keywords, and to help guide the user to their destination. As a result, Google respects good anchor text.

What to do

  • Create landing pages for your chosen key search terms. They must be relevant to users and contain the information they need.
  • Add these landing pages to your navigation.
  • Update anchor text for links pointing to targeted keywords.

Make your site faster

This is a big deal. Again, Google wants to send people to the best content. Faster is better for the user, so Google gives fast sites a bump.

Compress images

Large images slow down your site, so you need to make image file sizes as small as possible.

Use a page speed analyzer

These tools tell you how fast your site is, and what’s slowing you down. We mentioned the Google speed ranking above, which comes from PageSpeed Insights.

Make your blog a subdirectory (not a subdomain)

Moz’s Rand Fishkin recently addressed this on Whiteboard Fridays. It’s well worth watching.

Address quick fixes

Here are some easy and fast changes you can make to see results immediately. They won’t be as impactful as the tips above, but they won’t cost much time, either.

Make sure Google sees your sitemap

Sitemaps help Google understand your site. Anything that helps Google do its job will give you a boost, and these are no different.

Fix broken links

Broken links affect site experience, and, say it out loud, Google penalizes bad experience. Get a site report from a provider of your choice. We like SEMrush, but there are other options out there.

Use alt tags correctly

Alt tags tell Google what’s in an image. Since Google can’t look at an image and say, “that looks like media monitoring,” we have to say so.

What we plan to do next

So that’s our mega-list of SEO tactics that improved our site traffic. But SEO doesn’t sleep, and we all need to keep making changes.

  1. Continue to create content with page speed in mind. Our designers and developers know that every image and widget that goes on Mention.com needs to be optimized for speed. When we create new site features, they don’t go live until they’re fast.
  2. Create content with SEO in mind. As Mention adds new features, we keep building new landing pages. Now that we have a proper plan, we need to make sure new pages follow it.
  3. Same for the blog. To make posts easy to find — hopefully long after publication — they need to be search engine optimized. We have our SEO guidelines and use the Yoast WordPress plugin, which tells us when our posts aren’t search engine-friendly.
  4. Optimize for more keywords. Using our new strategies, we hope to add to our list of well-performing search terms.

Conclusion

And that’s everything, past, present, and future. These tactics are easy to enact for websites of all sizes. Do them, and you’ll absolutely see results.

  • SEMrush: They’re an excellent SEO tool, and their blog is full of wisdom.
  • Yoast: A great plugin, their blog also provides plenty of advice for WordPress users.
  • Kaiserthesage: The personal blog of Jason Acidre, a brilliant search strategist.
  • Backlinko: A digital marketing training hub created by SEO wizard Brian Dean.

Mention

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Mention

Mention

Simple yet powerful monitoring tool for your brand, competition, industry, and more, anywhere online.