Today's guest article was written by Hugo Guzman, the VP of SEO and Social Media at zetainteractive. Hugo is an online marketing expert with both in-house and agency experience. He's been working in the SEO field since 2002 and his work has been published in industry portals such as ClickZ and SEOBook.com. I follow Hugo's marketing musings on Twitter, and recommend you follow him as well.
Without further ado, here's Hugo...
++How to Exponentially Boost Your Targeted Website Traffic++
Few things in an SEO's life are sweeter than watching one page of a site hit pay dirt for a high-volume, high-relevance keyword in Google.
Witnessing your site appear above the fold for one of these "pay-dirt" keywords and watching the visits, conversions, and revenue roll in help reaffirm one's faith in natural search optimization and life in general. After all, SEO is one of the only channels that still gives the little guy – and the big corporations, for that matter – a shot at a level playing field due to the relatively low cost of entry. While this level SEO playing field is quickly eroding, most agree that the opportunity to stake a claim in natural search results is still there for the taking if you take the proper approach.
But what is the proper approach?
It's a tough question to answer, and there are various answers that would qualify as right. Unfortunately, most SEO agencies and consultants approach it the same way time after time: sticking to the conventional top-down approach that focuses on optimizing pages and engaging in link-building efforts geared toward the home page, followed by category pages, followed by granular product and content pages.
Mind you, there's nothing wrong with this approach. It has stood the test of time and has a proven track record of results. Heck, even my agency bakes this process into the core of their SEO offering.
However, it's simply not enough in today's highly competitive SEO climate. You need additional measures, particularly in terms of striking while the iron is hot and identifying those "on the cusp" keywords and phrases that can lead to immediate and measurable return on investment.
On-the-cusp keywords are simply search phrases for which your site is gaining some traffic but is not yet ranking well enough (say, the top 3 for most people) to benefit from an exponential boost in traffic (and, hopefully, conversions).
So in layman's terms, if you're receiving some traffic from certain keyword phrases, but not as much as you could be, those phrases are on the cusp. And considering the exponential traffic and potential conversions you can gained by moving up above the fold in the search results, it's in your best interest to keep close tabs on each and every one of your on-the-cusp keywords.
Now, obviously there are some on-the-cusp keywords that are worth more than others, and this is where analytics comes into play. For starters, it's probably a good idea to pull search volume data for any and all keywords that are currently ranking in the 4–15 range, so that you can prioritize your optimization and link-building efforts and focus on the highest-volume keywords first. But using ranking report data is really not enough, mainly because it doesn't account for keywords that you don't even know you rank for, and they're not the same for every person.
Learn to decipher your analytics data.
Reviewing your search referring keywords data can help you quickly decipher which keywords qualify as on the cusp. It's simply a matter of identifying terms that are consistently sending in a trickle of visits – that is, one or more visits per day sustained over an extended period. What constitutes a "trickle"? That's subjective, but the idea is to triangulate on referring keywords that are new and/or refer a relatively low amount of traffic.
Don't focus on the long tail.
For this exercise, it's important to focus on two- to three-word terms as opposed to long-tail terms, because most long-tail terms will not generate exponential gains even if they move into the top position.
Once you identify these referring keywords that deliver a trickle of visits and cross-check their rankings to confirm that the keywords are in that 4–15 range, you can implement targeted page-level or internal linking elements that can help push the page above the fold. You may want to secure a few anchor-text–laden inbound links to give them that final push. In some instances, a single anchor-text–laden link (internal or external) or a slight adjustment to the page's title tag will do the trick!
Replicate this process again and again, and before you know it, aggregate natural search referrals (and conversions) will begin to show a tantalizingly noticeable increase.
Vice President – SEO & Social Media
[Jill's Note: Thanks, Hugo! In addition to this great advice, you may also want to check out "Using Analytics to Measure Success"]