SEO Visibility: How to Increase Yours in 11 Simple Ways 76
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The era of ten blue links is way past us. After Google launched the Knowledge Graph in 2012, clicks to organic listings have gradually declined. Snagging top spots in SERPs and improving SEO visibility have, hence, become even more prized.
If you’re facing a loss in the number of clicks from search, it’s possible to diagnose and fix it. In this article, learn how to improve search engine visibility and get those clicks you’ve been searching for.
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What is SEO Visibility?
SEO tools, such as Moz and Search Metrics, also use this as a metric to indicate your website’s performance in organic search. As per Moz, the average visibility for the top ranking URL is between 35% to 40%, but the numbers could vary for different keywords.
Advanced Web Ranking research found that commercial intent keywords have a CTR of 33.92% for position 1 vis-a-vis 23.35% for informational searches for the same search spot.
It’s not solely about ranking on the first spot, though. The entire first page remains precious real estate, and the first three spots are even more coveted. Let me explain:
How Would You Like an Extra 30.8% Clicks?
In its CTR study, Backlinko found the following:
- The top three search results account for a whopping 75.1% of all the clicks.
- The CTR for positions 7–10 is virtually the same.
- By moving up a position, you can increase your relative CTR by 30.8%.
Want to get some of that extra click love? Here’s how you can go about diagnosing search ranking drops; you’ll also learn how to beef up pages with existing authority to improve your SEO visibility.
Find Pages That Have Scope For Improvements In Search Visibility
They say the best place to hide a dead body is page two of Google, as the organic CTR for listing on that page tends to be less than 1%. However, your articles on page two — and sometimes even page three in cases of low competition keywords — present great opportunities.
They are low-hanging fruits that can get you extra traffic and significantly improve your search visibility. To find these pages, you can use data from Google Search Console or Google Analytics. I like to use the Ahrefs’s “Organic Keywords 2.0 report”.
Let’s look at the keywords ranking on page two from the CoSchedule blog; note how Ahrefs shows the change in positions of these keywords compared with last month:
Let’s discuss the pages related to the keywords “press release”, “case study”, “content creation”, “brainstorming techniques”, and “contrasting colors” as they have dropped in rankings — touching the second page.
Are all these pages worth improving visibility?
Yes, but prioritizing those offering the highest business opportunity makes sense. Here are a few things to consider to identify them:
1. How relevant is it to my business?
“Contrasting colors” is probably not a keyword that will drive the most relevant traffic for a business like CoSchedule. It wasn’t the main keyword for the article on color psychology, anyway.
2. Look at the domain rating and backlink profile of the first-page results.
If the first page contains lots of pages from authoritative websites (say with DR over 80), and they have over 50 referring domains, you might need to put a lot of effort to outdo them — especially if your domain has a lower rating.
In this scenario, it’s only possible to gain rankings by looking at the scope of improvement.
3. What’s the scope of improvement for satisfying the search intent for the keyword?
CoSchedule’s article on “brainstorming techniques” ranks on the thirteenth position and covers four strategies, but they have tailored them for content professionals:
A look at the SERP reveals that the intent seems to address a broader audience interested in generating ideas, so the entire content of the page might require a rewrite to get a shot at ranking:
4. Does it have a large pool of available traffic?
Falling by nine positions for the keyword “press release” seemed to have cost CoSchedule 1.1K in monthly traffic (as per Ahrefs estimates). Even if they hit back the first page at the tenth spot, they could gain 721 visitors a month; seems like a good opportunity.
Ultimately, it’s about efforts vs. rewards. Therefore, business relevance triumphs the rest of the factors.
For instance, if you have a middle of the funnel high-value (but low traffic) keyword ranking on the second page that needs both — lots of links and rewriting of content — it would still be worth increasing its search visibility.
For CoSchedule, one such keyword/keyphrase could be “project management software for marketing”, for which they already rank on the tenth position but could use a boost:
After finding the pages worth increasing SEO visibility, leverage the eleven tactics below to optimize them. Note that we’ll mainly discuss each strategy in the context of one specific page, but you can extend the idea to your whole website.
1. Update Content and Satisfy the Search Intent
It’s a great feeling to rank on the first page, but occasionally your pages end up ranking higher for reasons other than the ones you intended. Instead, your site’s overall authority or backlinks built to the page do the trick. Often in competitive niches, such parties don’t last long as another website ends up covering the subject better than you.
Content update is, hence, a great strategy to ensure your article gets the best chance to stay on the first page. Orbit Media’s survey of business bloggers found that bloggers who update the content are 2x more likely to get results.
The next few pointers will discuss various ideas for updating content, but consider adding new sources, getting the information up-to-date, adding images and tables, or using interactive elements to make the information easier to consume.
For instance, when I updated my online course platforms article, I added a box at the top, a comparison table, and even scores for individual software on the list.
Remember to update the content enough, or else Google might not give it the “freshness boost” it deserves.
2. Come Up With a Fresh Angle
More and more content in competitive niches has now started to resemble each other. Marketers use the same set of tools and strategies to “reverse engineer” their topics. For search engine users, however, it makes for a unidimensional experience.
A great way to intrigue a searcher in results is to come up with creative and unique angles. For instance, in my search for “productivity hacks”, an article by The Muse suggesting alternatives pops up:
Not only did it pique my curiosity — it made “The Muse” stand out among SERPs from reputable publications, such as Entrepreneur and Lifehack.
To come up with such angles, you can’t rely on SEO tools alone. Take the risk and approach writing on the keyword you want to improve your search visibility for from a perspective not existing in SERPs.
3. Optimize Your Meta Description
Meta tags are not known to influence search engine rankings. Further, Ahrefs research found that Google rewrites the meta description 62.78% of the time.
That being said, is it worth the effort to craft compelling meta descriptions?
Well, they can help you stand out in search results and draw some extra clicks. Given that 25.02% of top-ranking pages don’t have a meta description (per the same Ahrefs study above), you give your pages another shot to establish relevance for their target keywords through these meta tags.
Fellow content marketer Elise Dopson managed to increase her search traffic by 54% through optimizing meta tags:
While optimizing meta tags:
- Try to include the exact, main keyword for your article in your SEO title tag, meta description, and its variations in the subheadlines.
- Sprinkle the “exact” keywords that your page is getting impressions for (as found through Google Console) in the page content.
For instance, my article on podcast hosting has started getting impressions for related queries, such as “podcast platforms” and “podcast hosting sites” — and even a subtopic: “podcast analytics tools”. I can consider using these exact keywords in my article (if possible), as Google already considers the article relevant for them.
4. Integrate Multimedia in Your Content
Assuming other factors, such as links, comprehensiveness, and domain authority are the same, the amount of time people spend on your website could indicate the value people get from it. and if the content satisfied their intent behind the query.
- Bing acknowledges that “short dwell times can indicate that the content is not capturing visitor’s interest.”
- Google also uses bounce rate and dwell time to “feed their machine learning algorithms.”
Especially in competitive niches, increasing the visibility in SERPs for a keyword can come down to improving the engagement on your article.
People love the convenience of consuming information through podcasts and videos. Multimedia also provides a new dimension to your brand, so creating a YouTube video to go with your article is a great bet.
Blogger and content marketer Ryan Robinson shared how his strategy of topping his long-form blog posts with long-form videos has given him success. Here’s an example of one such blog post where he uses a step-by-step video tutorial:
Google has now started integrating videos in its SERPs. So you can get both your video and the blog post to rank in search, therefore occupying even more real estate. Orbit Media shows us the way:
Andy Crestodina aptly summarizes how this strategy of combining channels helps your brand:
He found that video watchers spent significantly more time on his blog post after he updated it:
You can also test a related podcast or an audio version of the post for your readers. Mark Manson, a self-improvement blogger and author, does it for some of his top blog posts — thereby offering an authentic listening experience to his readers:
5. Make It Comprehensive
Most of your readers — and in turn, Google — like it when you answer all their questions on a subject you write about in your articles. It provides them with convenience and eliminates the need to refer to any other source.
Once you’re ranking for a specific keyword, evaluate the subtopics you’ve possibly left out, then update your article to cover them. Such comprehensive coverage of a subject can help you rank the existing page for even more long-tail keywords. Google’s machine-learning algorithm also forms associations between keywords and entities to establish relevance.
Let me share a nifty way to find “missed” subtopics by sneaking your competition, but feel free to get creative and rely on your intuition here as well. Let’s look at the “creative brief” article at CoSchedule that ranks at the #7 spot in search (at the time of writing the article).
I plugged the article in the Ahrefs content gap tool to compare it against a few other top results for the keyword. I found the following keywords that CoSchedule’s competitors are ranking for, but CoSchedule isn’t. Covering the subtopics “what is a brief” and “brand brief” in their article could land them some additional traffic.
You can also consider using an LSI keyword tool for finding more related keywords that you can consider sprinkling in your article because they can establish relevance to your main target keyword.
Here are some LSI keywords that LSI Graph shows for the phrase “creative brief”:
Use your understanding of the main subject for any new phrases you find here. If they seem relevant, try to frame subtopics around them in your article or include them naturally in your existing content. The CoSchedule infographic aptly summarizes the LSI optimization process below:
6. Optimize for Featured Snippets
A few years ago, Google started directly answering some searcher’s queries at the top of SERPs by using relevant content from top-ranking pages. It displayed them as featured snippets. For example, look at the top result for the article “best time to send an email” graced by CoSchedule:
Indeed they can occupy over 50% of real estate in mobile SERPs:
Such a special box can result in extra clicks and get you the highest SEO visibility because of being prominently visible at the top.
Occasionally the snippet could be tricky to optimize because people get answers to their questions directly in the SERPs and decide not to click through to the site. This could result in CTR drops for the page, and, in turn, decrease your SEO visibility.
However, if you find them worth experimenting with, check out Ann Smarty’s article on SEO traffic generation, where she discusses optimizing content for snippets.
Another search element you can experiment with is FAQ Schemas. Here’s how they appear:
They help your search listing gain more SERP real estate and could lead to an increase in your CTR, like this case study at Search Engine Land:
Even FAQs can result in simply more impressions in SERPs while reducing clicks to your site, so be careful.
7. Use Sitelinks
I’m sure you’ve seen sitelinks for certain search results when using Google. They are shown by the search giant when it deems them relevant to the search query by users, and especially relevant for branded search queries:
Even for other kinds of queries, they provide the convenience to jump to a relevant section on a page directly. For instance, the three sitelinks appearing for the CoSchedule’s color psychology article provide three more clickable pathways to the user:
As you can see, sitelinks increase the amount of SERP real estate you occupy and increase your SEO visibility.
They are generated algorithmically by Google as of now, so you can’t control them, but you can add a table of contents at the top of your article to provide additional context and increase your chances of landing sitelinks.
Here’s an example from my personal brand statement examples article that has four sitelinks:
A robust website architecture and internal linking with relevant anchor text can also provide additional useful context to Google for showing these sitelinks.
8. Shower It With Some Internal Link Love
In the SEO Content Strategy article, Nathan shared how CoSchedule’s highest traffic and converting pages are the ones that get linked to most often:
SEO 101 calls for helping search engine bots easily navigate across your website through internal links, and hey, your audience would also be happy to spend more time on your site reading more of your high-quality content.
How do you go about building internal links?
Try to transfer some link juice from the pages on your site with the highest authority to the ones you want to increase the SEO visibility. You can find your pages that have been linked to most often through the “Best by links” report in Ahrefs:
Where do you add internal links from?
- Either the body of the article in a contextually relevant manner:
- Or include them in the “additional reading” section at the bottom of your blog posts:
The anchor you use for the internal links also “provides additional context” to what the pages are about, so don’t mind using about 80% exact match text for your internal links.
9. Build Backlinks to the Page
Do you know that the first ranking result tends to have 3.8x links than positions #2 to #10?
Getting external websites to link to the pages you want to increase search engine visibility for could be a game changer. This could be especially useful for the keywords that are highly competitive because your competitors could be fiercely building links to gain rankings.
Don’t shoot for quantity here, though — relevance is key. If you can get links through a couple of authoritative websites in your industry, it would suffice. Indeed, relying on existing relationships with websites that linked to you in the past also works because that also increases the page’s authority.
10. Build Links to Your Website
Besides backlinks, another important factor that influences search rankings is referring domains. It makes sense to keep working on upping that number by building relationships with new and relevant companies in your industry that can lead to links.
Tactics to consider for getting links are guest posting, creating thought leadership content, and building free software. Additionally, Joshua discusses a few link building techniques you can refer to, but the first step is always to create something worth linking to.
An increase in your site’s authority gives you a better chance to rank for high-competition keywords and increase SEO visibility across all the pages of your site.
11. Ensure a Great User Experience
Google has announced the release of the Page Experience update from May 2021, which encompasses the below-mentioned metrics to measure the user experience of a website:
The company announcement mentions plans “to test showing a visual indicator that highlights pages in search results that have great page experience,” so check the Core Web Vitals (CWV) report in your search console to evaluate if you’re meeting the benchmarks for the above metrics.
In their study of 20K URLs, Screaming Frog found that merely 12% of sites on mobile and 13% on desktop passed the CWV test. Ensure compliance with CWV, and you can get the edge over competitors in SERPs — thereby increasing your search visibility.
Theoretically, you would like 100% SEO visibility — where you own all the first-page organic spots (including the sitelinks) for a target keyword.
In a real-world scenario, you might encounter two of your pages accumulating some precious SERP real estate for a target keyword, but that could lead to keyword cannibalization issues leading to dilution of links, rankings, and traffic. Consider the pinnacle SEO visibility to be around 35% to 40% for most keywords.
Next time when you experience a significant drop in your search engine visibility or simply want to proactively work on it, try one of the strategies in this article. It should mitigate some of those ranking problems.
June 9, 2021