Almost two months ago, I publish a blog called My SEO Study: How to Get More Traffic to My Blog.
If you’ve not read that post, then I highly recommend that you stop reading this post and go and read the other one first. Otherwise, this one is not going to make any sense.
Good, let’s get going with the results.
Here’s what I have changed
I’m going to be completely honest here and admit that I still haven’t done everything that was on my to-do list from my previous post.
However, from the small changes that I have had made, I have seen a great improvement in my traffic and therefore felt that it was still a good idea to publish my results thus far.
I’ll briefly be going through the changes that I have made, which include
- Increasing website speed
- Mobile first
- Google Search Console
- Link building
Then, we shall get into the nitty gritty of the data from my Google Analytics to see the impact that the changes have had on my traffic.
Let’s break it down.
1. Increased website speed
Although 3 seconds does not seem like a long time, in the online world, that’s not too good.
My target was to speed my site up so that it would load in under 2 seconds.
To help this along…
- I installed MaxCDN (Content Delivery Network). This basically creates caches of your static files on a global scale. When that file is requested, it is served from the caching node closest to the visitor, therefore reducing time.
- Enabled lazy loading. This delays the loading of images outside of the viewport until a user scrolls to them.
- Reduced the number of 301 re-directs. (To find out more about 301 re-directs click here)
- Removed any unnecessary bells-and-whistles from my site. It’s very easy to get carried away and have lots of plugins installed on your website. By removing the ones that aren’t necessary and that you can do without, you’re making my website lighter which therefore helps it load quicker.
- Compress images. Images can take up a lot of space on your website and seriously effect it’s load time. Image compressing minimises the size of the fie in bytes, without degrading the image quality.
- Sweep files. Each time you write a post or edit a post, WordPress will save each revision of that post as a copy. Eventually, these will start to take up a considerable amount of space and weigh your website down. I use a plugin called WP-Sweep which helps clear away the revision posts, auto-drafts, spammed comments and more.
After making these simple changes, I re-tested my site with Pingdom. I was pleased with a result of 0.948 seconds.
That’s a reduction in 2.972 seconds, making my site over 75% faster.
I’d also like to point out that I have not done any fancy edits to the website’s code. Therefore, the above changes are more than achievable for anyone who has a working knowledge of WordPress.
2. Mobile first
As I mentioned in my previous post, Google now uses its mobile index as its primary index. In other words, you cannot afford to ignore mobiles.
A good way of testing if your site stands up to Google’s mobile requirements is to use its online testing tool.
Your website is given three scores. Here are the scores that I previously received from Google.
- Mobile Friendliness – 99/100 Good
- Mobile Speed – 60/100 Poor
- Desktop Speed – 72/100 Fair
As you can see, most of my issues were revolving around speed. So, by speeding up my website as per above, I also improved on my Google mobile requirement scores.
It was a double-whammy.
Here are my new scores for my home page.
…and I also test the scores of an individual blog post.
I was planning on making some significant upgrades to my current content which included
- Making it more through and turning it into long-form content with 2000+ words
- Paying attention to the keywords that the posts were ranking for and optimising them
- Being more aware of LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords and including them in my content
- Ensuring that the meta titles and descriptions match my keywords
- Ensuring that the image alt tags match my keywords
But the truth is, that’s all a lot harder than it sounds!
Re-writing the content was especially difficult for me. So far, I have only managed to re-write two pieces of content. But I have seen an improvement in their traffic and rankings.
I found it much easier to plan and write new content from scratch. By starting out with my goals and objectives already in my head it became much easier to structure and produce.
So, this is an area where I have heavily failed in. But my new content that I am producing is ticking as many of the above boxes as I can.
One of the posts that I did produce using the above criteria, Top 9 Tourist Attractions in Berlin with Handy Walking Route, is now the top post on this blog. It has been viewed more times than any other piece of content even though it’s only been on this site for one month – some other posts have been here for as long as 5 months!
4. Google Search Console
I have had Google Search Console (previously Google Webmasters) integrated with my website since day 1. But like most people, I only had my sitemaps and robots.txt (from Yoast SEO WordPress plugin) submitted.
I really wasn’t making full use of the platform.
I have since used the data highlighting tool on my home page and category archive pages. The is a very simple tool where you literally highlight snippets of text and images and tell Google what they are. For example, you would highlight a blog title and apply a tag to tell Google that it is a title. There are lots of tags, including name, date, author, location and so on.
This helps Google to understand the structured data of your website. Then the next time Google crawls your site, the data will be available for rich snippets on the search pages.
Rich snippets are extra pieces of content that are shown in Google’s search results to help give users an idea about what they’ll find if they click through to your site.
You’ve probably seen loads of these snippets without even realising it. Here’s an example of a rich snippet in Google Search showing event dates.
Although having rich snippets do not directly affect the ranking of your web pages, by providing the user with extra information and standing out from the rest of the search results, it helps to make your pages more appealing to click on. By boosting the CTR (click through rate) of a post, this could then indirectly improve the ranking of your web pages.
I optimised them for rich snippets by including a star rating for each book. Google will use this star rating and show them in the search on Google.
Here’s an example of the star-rating.
By doing utilising these features I have reached #4 on Google for the search term ‘book review natalie sission’.
..and position #7 (from YouTube) and #8 on Google for the search term ‘book review content machine’.
5. Link building
Link building is one of the hardest things for me – well actually, the internal link building is easy, it’s the backlink building that’s the tricky part.
I have thrown myself into building genuine backlinks from reputable sources and I must admit that out of all the changes I have made, this has had the most impact.
I had just 86 links to my site 6 weeks ago, and now I have 280.
To help get traffic from YouTube I have been including my website links and well as relevant blog posts on my channel and in the description of my videos.
I use the Digital Nomad and Trip Advisor Forum to connect with other travellers. I help them with their up and coming trips and post links back to my website if I have a helpful and relevant post. For example, if someone is considering travelling to Berlin, but not sure of what they should do when they get there, then I post a link for my Top 9 Tourist Attractions in Berlin with Handy Walking Route.
Please note that I am not spamming. I am going into forums and trying to ram by blog posts down everyone’s throat. I’ll only post a link if it is useful.
Overall, I have had tremendous success with link building and now schedule a few hours each week where I visit forums to comment and connect.
My goals – the real results!
At the beginning of My SEO Study post, I wrote down 5 goals. These were metrics from Google Analytics that I wanted to improve on. Please see below.
Statistic and goals for the 1st-14th April 2017 (first two weeks of April)
- Goal #1 – Increase the number of visitors – 324, averaging at 23.14 per day or 162 per week.
- Goal #2 – Increase the time on site – 4min 10sec
- Goal #3 – Decrease the bounce rate – 25.31%
- Goal #4 – Increase the pages per session – 2.86 pages per session
- Goal #5 – Increase the time on a page –average time spent on any one page or post is 2min 14sec
Organic search was providing me with 11.73% of my traffic in April – Boosting the organic traffic wasn’t an exact goal for me (since I didn’t really care where the traffic comes from, just that I got more of it). But since this is a blog post all about SEO, it was a relevant statistic to measure.
After making all the changes listed above over the course of just 6 weeks, here are my new statistics.
Statistic and goals for the 18th-31st May (last two weeks of May)
- Goal #1 – Number of visitors – 636, averaging at 45.43 per day or 318 per week.
- Goal #2 – Time on site – 3min 36sec
- Goal #3 – Bounce rate – 16.51%
- Goal #4 – Pages per session – 3.04
- Goal #5 – Time on a page – 1min 46sec (not shown on the above screenshot)
Organic search in May – 18.55%
Comparing the first two weeks of April with the last two weeks of May, here are the differences in results.
Obviously, a 96%+ increase in traffic isn’t that difficult when your site only has 1000+ hits per month. But at this moment in time, it’s a pretty good start.
The results also help to confirm that the changes I have made to the site have indeed increased the traffic to my blog – which was the whole point of the exercise.
Although I haven’t completed everything on my SEO to-do list, I have been surprised at the impact that has been made in just six weeks with a few changes.
As mentioned above, you need no coding skills to be able to do what I have done. If you have a working knowledge of WordPress and are comfortable carrying out a few experiments and trials then you can easily replicate my results.
In the meantime, I shall keep chipping away at my to-do list whilst trying to produce high-quality long-form content. I will be continuing my learning on optimising websites for search engines and boosting organic traffic, so look out for any future handy hints, tips and studies that I may carry out.
If I can continue to almost double my traffic every six weeks, I will be very happy. Although that may get more difficult when I start playing with some real numbers.
If you want to learn more about driving traffic through content marketing, then I would highly recommend that you check out The Content Engine by Dan Norris.
I recently reviewed it and gave it 5-stars. It’s the best book that I have ever read about creating content.Click here to view on Amazon