On October 28, I had the honor of giving a presentation on organic search traffic at the 58th annual American Translators Conference in Washington, D.C.
It was my first time speaking at an ATA conference, though I had attended ATA55 in Chicago.
Your presentation was one of my favorites of the conference, and I’m planning on implementing many of your recommendations to improve my own website. —Meghan McCallum, translator and ATA58 attendee
I presented a talk called “Beating the Digital Competition: How to Boost Your Website’s Organic Search Traffic.”
A discussion about search engine optimization may seem out of place at a translators’ conference, but I wanted to talk about it for two reasons.
The first is that any small business can benefit from a knowledge of basic SEO. After all, freelance translators effectively run their own small businesses.
The second reason is that translation conferences focus (rightly) on topics directly related to translation. I figured that a presentation on digital marketing (for translators, specifically) would be welcome.
The conference organizers gave me the biggest possible room in the entire Washington Hilton—a cavernous hall with enough seats for 1,000 people.
But to my endless chagrin (relief?), fewer than a thousand people showed up.
I would say a few dozen, which means that my talk was able to attract a good 2% of the 1,700 attendees at the conference. I’ll take it!
Read on for presentation highlights.
Beating the Digital Competition: How to Boost Your Website’s Organic Search Traffic
I had only 45 minutes to present. However, I could have presented SEO tips for four hours.
As any digital marketer knows, there’s a lot to learn about using the web to your advantage.
Explaining how search engines work, describing the basics of site optimization, and sharing which tools to use for site testing and monitoring could be a semester-long college course. (It probably is.)
The information below comes from select slides in the presentation.
- Organic search traffic is traffic that comes to a given website via search queries. For example, a searcher enters “benefits of green tea” into a search bar, sees a page of results, and clicks on one (or several) of them. Organic traffic is distinct from traffic via other sources: a browser bookmark, an email campaign, social media, another website, and paid advertising.
- Google dominates search. The search giant handles almost 80% of all Internet searches. (Sorry, Yahoo.)
- It’s good to appear on the first of all search results pages (SERPs). Appearing as one of the top three results (positions 1–3) is even better.
- Content creators need to write for both computers and humans. This is because search engines will help display your content but humans will be the ones actually reading it and (hopefully) acting on it.
- Keywords are the focal points of your content. Each page or post that you try to optimize for search should have a keyword or—better yet—multiple keywords.
- Beginning bloggers should target keywords that have low search volume and low keyword difficulty. More established content creators should target keywords with a high search volume but low keyword difficulty. (This is one of my favorite SEO tips!)
- Good content is informative, detailed, authoritative, and authentic. In addition, it is unique. It may even “pick a side”—it’s okay to state your opinion in your content.
- On-page SEO is the practice of modifying certain elements of a web page to get more search traffic. There’s nothing illegal or unethical about it, but it’s possible to overdo it, which search engines will penalize your site for.
- The three quickest things you can do to improve your website is to make it fast, make it secure, and make it mobile-friendly.
- Backlinks (i.e., links from other sites to yours) are great for boosting your organic traffic.
- Your site’s URLs should be short and descriptive. URLs with dates, numbers, “stop” words, or symbols can be long or otherwise difficult to read.
- Keep keyword density under 2.5%.
- Use keyword variants in your copy. For example, in this post I’ve used “French curse words” but also “French swear words.”
- Keep readability above 60 (Flesch reading ease test).
- Aim for 1,000 words (or more) in a blog post. “Thin” content could hurt your site.
- Internal and external links can help boost your organic search traffic. In fact, it’s so important that Yoast SEO checks for these links in your content. (Read more about the Yoast SEO plugin.)
- Include at least one image in your content.
Testing and Monitoring Tools
- Google Analytics is for website owners. It’s an essential tool—it’s also free.
- Google Search Console is for site owners who want more detail about links, indexing, organic search traffic, and security issues.
- Good page speed tools include Google PageSpeed Insights, Pingdom, and GTMetrix. Google also has a good mobile-friendly test that you can use to check your site.
- For a limited site audit (up to 500 URLs for free), try Screaming Frog.
Are you serious about optimizing your website for organic search traffic? Then talk to us about a site audit.