How to Scale Organic Traffic (Without Writing a Million Blog Posts) - Business 2 Community

How to Scale Organic Traffic (Without Writing a Million Blog Posts) - Business 2 Community

How to Scale Organic Traffic (Without Writing a Million Blog Posts) - Business 2 Community

Posted: 16 Jan 2020 12:00 AM PST

In-house SEOs and consultants alike are routinely challenged to find new opportunities to expand organic traffic. But the classic approach of researching new keywords then writing articles for those that match your domain strength doesn't work for all sites.

Take Quora, for example. It's one of the largest social platforms, with over 300 million monthly active users and nearly 54 million pages in Google's index. Even with a team of writers, you couldn't create enough high-quality content to yield big results.

Instead, you have to identify scalable solutions that drive organic traffic—new information types or page templates. In other words, new features!

Quora did just that. In mid-2019, they launched a new feature called "spaces," which allows users to create content around topics instead of questions. Topics are an important feature for social networks, just as genres are for music or categories for ecommerce sites. (Twitter recently introduced topics, too.)

Quora Spaces is already gaining traction in organic search. It's a great example of how product features can drive organic traffic. In fact, new product features are the most underrated driver of SEO growth for large sites.

In this article, I show you:

  • How user intent can help you brainstorm product features;
  • The step-by-step process to narrow your list of potential features;
  • Keys to deploying those new features in an SEO-friendly way.

Why opportunities are different for "inventory-driven" websites

SEO growth works differently for sites that scale with content (e.g., blog posts) compared to sites that scale with inventory (e.g., movies, songs, products, profiles, etc.). I call the later type "inventory driven."

As such, SEO opportunities for sites that scale with content ("content driven") are mostly new topics and keywords to feed article creation, whereas inventory-driven sites scale with new product features.

For inventory-driven sites, the website is a big part of the product. It's more than just a distribution channel. It provides the platform that users act on and a solution to one or many problems.

For a feature to have SEO value, of course, it has to be publicly exposed. Anything behind a login or on a native app doesn't work. The feature also has to address a need that people are searching for.

Whether it improves the quality of an existing page (and, therefore, rankings for keywords you're already addressing) or justifies new page creation (to rank for new keywords), there has to be demand.

Let's look at a few examples of SEO-focused product features:

  • Quora spaces;
  • Youtube hashtags;
  • Twitter moments;
  • Pinterest topics;
  • Owler's competitive analysis of Twitter followers;
  • Crunchbase showing SimilarWeb data;
  • Amazon Q&A;
  • Trello templates;
  • Databox templates.

Those features are helping sites ranking for thousands, even millions, of keywords.

Quora Spaces

quora topics organic keyword growth.

Twitter moments

twitter moments organic keyword growth.

In each case, an extension to the existing solution was shipped in a search engine–friendly way and now drives a lot of organic traffic, while also improving the product.

Look at Amazon. They rolled out an indexable Q&A for obvious reasons—users have all sorts of product questions.

amazon product q&a keyword growth.

Adding Q&A pages not only makes visiting Amazon more attractive (because you get answers to your questions), but it also addresses questions people might type into Google search. In return, customers might first get to Amazon through an off-site search, then buy the product there.

But what if the high-potential feature isn't obvious? How do you make new feature ideas something other than speculative?

User intent + Jobs-to-be-done = a match made in heaven

New product features are built with a variety of methods:

  • Gut feeling (e.g., Steve Jobs);
  • Brainstorming/hive mind;
  • Quantitative research (i.e. what customers are doing);
  • Qualitative research (i.e. speaking to customers);
  • Customer requests;
  • Strategically, to attack a market.

No conversation in SEO can exclude user intent. If you don't meet user intent, you won't rank. That makes it more of a ranking enabler than a ranking factor—even more so since machine-learning technologies like BERT help Google understand intent better.

The Jobs-to-be-done framework (JTBD) was invented by economist Clayton Christensen and is a great way to identify user intent for a topic and define the right features. A "job," in this case, is a micro task that's connected to context—the circumstances in which the user is trying to get a job done. The main goal is to have a list of jobs for which you can build new features.

JTBD follows 5 steps:

  1. Identify the focus market;
  2. Find core and side jobs customers try to get done;
  3. Categorize the jobs;
  4. Create job statements;
  5. Prioritize opportunities depending on how well they're served at the moment (over-served, served right, underserved).

For many inventory-driven sites, the JTBD framework is a better alternative to personas. It's difficult to target personas when you may have hundreds of sub-audiences. Instead, looking at the jobs your audiences are trying to do—and in what context—is more fruitful. Jobs are agnostic to personality or preferences.

Let's run through a hypothetical example with Spotify.

  1. We can flip "focus market" to "target topic"—the topical space in which your product provides value. For Spotify, the target topic would be "music" because it's core to Spotify's product.
  2. Define jobs: "listen to music," "share music with friends," "explore new genres," etc. (There are probably hundreds or thousands of jobs.) Simply describe interactions your target audience has with your product.
  3. Cluster your jobs into groups like "listen," "share," or "explore." Think about the action that users take.
  4. Write job statements consisting of an object, a verb, and context. For example, "listen to music on a plane"; "share music with friends while texting on WhatsApp"; or "explore new genres when I'm bored at work" (which never happens, of course).
  5. Prioritize the jobs according to your core product value—the main thing users get out of your solution. This is when you look at the importance of each job for your business and categorize them as "main jobs" or "side jobs," depending on how important they are for the customer.

The final outcome is a prioritized list of important problems your audience is trying to solve.

For Spotify, the new feature could be a set of pages for the most shared songs in every genre or weekly charts per genre. They already scale SEO with artist, album, and genre pages. To take it even further, they could get into the lyrics game and publish lyrics on song pages (just an idea).

spotify artist pages organic keywords.Spotify's artist pages rank on Page 1 for more than 800,000 keywords.

Don't neglect the emotional context

The emotional part of a job, provided through its context, is crucial. Remember, we almost always make emotional, not rational, choices. Even Google recommends looking at the emotional contexts in which users search, defining them as "needs."

They've identified six needs:

  1. Surprise me;
  2. Thrill me;
  3. Impress me;
  4. Educate me;
  5. Reassure me;
  6. Help me.

To merge this emotional context with the JTBD framework, use needs as filters. Each job should satisfy at least one need.

emotional needs of searchers.Searcher needs, as defined by Google.

Empathy is central to getting user intent right. As Google states:

Each need state is made up of a combination of emotional, social, and functional needs. Emotions are the foundations of need states. The truth is, decision-making is not a rational process, but one driven mainly by how people feel. The rational brain layers on reasons for our choices only after they're made.

So far, we've gone through half the process:

  1. Use the JTBD framework to identify user problems.
  2. Cross check jobs with emotional needs.

Now, it's time for the remaining steps:

  1. Feed job ideas with SEO data, like search volume.
  2. Deploy the feature in an SEO-friendly way.

5 ways to pair jobs with SEO research

People search with queries. Whereas classic SEO opportunity analysis focuses on finding new keywords, features should focus on patterns—queries with a common syntax.

Syntax describes the word order or arrangement. Query syntax, therefore, means how query patterns are structured. When you find queries with the same syntax that you don't rank for, you can build a new feature to address them.

The point is not to find a few queries with high search volume. It's to find a query pattern or template that scales across thousands of searches, which—in sum—add up to a lot of traffic.

Let's consider some examples:

  • Imagine YouTube users were searching for "[title of video] English subtitles" on Google. This would indicate that users want to see English subtitles for videos. YouTube could build a feature to show English subtitles automatically. To make it search-friendly, the transcription could be added on the page and provide additional content for Google.
  • Say you find that queries with the pattern "investors of [company]" have a lot of search volume. That would indicate to a site like Crunchbase that they might want to build a feature to let users see the investors of any company (if the information is available) on the company page.
  • A query syntax like "[business type] reporting template" would indicate to a company like Google that they should build standardized, industry-specific templates for Google Data Studio.

In each case, the identified demand can be addressed and lead to more organic traffic (and, of course, happier customers). You simply tweak standard keyword research methods to unearth queries with a shared syntax.

Here are five ways to do it.

How to discover queries with a shared syntax

1. Competitor analysis

Use a feature like Ahrefs' "Content Gap" or SEMrush's "Keyword Gap" to discover keywords that your competitors rank for but you do not.

content gap analysis in ahrefs.Ahrefs' Content Gap tool.

You want to identify query patterns just like you would look for new keyword opportunities, but at scale and with the same syntax. The easiest way to find new opportunities is among long-tail keywords, so set "Word count" to a minimum of 3 words.

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content gap report for ebay and amazon from ahrefs.

The example above compares eBay's keywords to Amazon's, with a minimum word count of 3. It quickly shows that "[item] for sale" is a query syntax eBay ranks well for but Amazon doesn't.

As a result, a (theoretical) opportunity for Amazon would be to add a feature that lists item categories "for sale" on its marketplace.

2. Hidden gems

Sometimes, established sites rank for queries with a certain syntax—but not high enough on the SERP to earn many clicks.

Depending how well existing pages meet user intent for those queries, you could improve existing content or create new pages. Taking what you have to the next level is a viable strategy and often more resource-friendly than building new things.

You can find them with rank tracker tools. In Ahrefs, filter your domain's keywords for a higher word count and lower position:

  1. Plug your domain into the search field.
  2. Go to the "organic keywords" report.
  3. Filter for lower positions (e.g., 20–40).
  4. Filter for a higher word count (e.g., 5+).

crunchbase long-tail keywords in ahrefs.

In the case above, I used Ahrefs to find a new (hypothetical) feature opportunity for Crunchbase: the net worth of companies and people.

From here, use your eye to spot patterns, or export the query list to a spreadsheet and categorize each of them until you start to see the pattern. Also, play around with the filtering options. Some sites need a higher word count, others start showing patterns with fewer words.

3. Internal search

Looking at internal search keywords in tools like Google Analytics, Algolia, or Looker has many benefits. One of them is understanding features that users are looking for, or informational needs that you could turn into a feature.

To find internal search data in Google Analytics, go to:

  1. Behavior;
  2. Site Search;
  3. Search Terms;
  4. Look at the "Search Term" column.

how to find internal search terms in google analytics.

As with previous keyword research methods, the goal is to look for queries with the same syntax and identify patterns. (Text analyzer tools like this one can help scale the process.)

4. Use tools to discover new topics

Certain tools, such as Exploding Topics, Ahrefs' Content Explorer, Google Trends, Alexa Content Exploration, or Buzzsumo can help you discover topics gaining traction on the web.

exploding topics.Exploding Topics tells you how topics are trending over a period of time.

alexas content exploration tool.Alexa's Content Exploration tool shows trends for the number of articles published and social media engagement.

Those topics can be translated into new features, but you have to start with a "seed idea"—a hunch (based on your JTBD research) for what users might want that relates to your product.

buzzsumo topic discovery.Based on an entered topic, Buzzsumo provides subtopics, questions, and keywords.

These tools can validate your ideas and explore the topic further. Find the problems and needs of your audience and translate them into new features.

5. Ask your customers

One of the best ways to inform new features is to ask your target group directly! If you can't invite people into your office and squeeze a new feature out of them, you have two options: Use social networks or a user-testing platform.

Simply asking "What feature should we build?" on Twitter or Facebook can lead to interesting conversations. You can also mine or monitor mentions on social networks and look for complaints or requests for features. The same goes for customer support: What features are customers regularly complaining about or requesting?

Sometimes, however, you need more, like what you get from remote user-testing. Platforms like Userlytics, UserTesting, or Lookback allow you to record or survey users and find out what functionality they're missing.

How to make new product features SEO friendly

Now that you've identified a job and associated query syntax, the question is whether you can (or should) build a new page template or add to existing pages. The answer is given by user intent:

  • If your existing pages already target a clear intent, and the new feature would dilute it, create a new page for it.
  • If the new feature is additive or complementary, integrate it on existing pages.

There is no cookie-cutter answer that's true in every case, so use your best judgment. Deploy the feature at a small scale to test how well it works for users and whether the new feature helps you rank for a query pattern you already rank for or a new one.

At G2, for example, we learned that a query syntax like "free [software name]" can't be solved with a filter on a category page. To be search-friendly and provide the best answer, it needs a new page template. Users don't want to come to a page and click on a filter to see free software; they want access only to free solutions when they search for them.

When creating new pages or updating existing ones, here are things to keep in mind.

Keys to adding SEO-friendly features

SEO-friendly features mostly come down to providing information, creating page types, integrating UGC, and providing templates on product or category pages. When you develop and ship them, you have to keep three factors in mind to get the most organic traffic out of them.

1. Accessibility

First, they have to be publicly accessible for users and search engines. That means search engines need to be able to render any scripts or frameworks they're built with and parse the content.

A big part of that is speed and mobile friendliness. Test new features with Google's rendering tool in Search Console, PageSpeed Insights, and their Mobile-Friendly Test:

Google Search Console

  1. Go to URL Inspection;
  2. Insert URL into the search field;
  3. Click "Live Test";
  4. Click "Screenshot";
  5. Make sure the URL has no problems.

url inspection in google search console.

Google PageSpeed Insights

google pagespeed insights.

Google Mobile-Friendly Test

mobile-friendly test by google.

2. Discoverability

Second, these pages need to be discoverable for search engines, which comes down to internal links and XML sitemaps.

Make sure new pages are not orphaned or anchored too low in crawl depth. Crawl your site on a staging environment with freshly deployed features and compare metrics like crawl depth and internal links to similar pages on the live version of your site.

crawl depth report from screaming frog.A crawl depth report in Screaming Frog.

Rolling out a few thousand pages at once without linking to them properly can do more than just lower the success of a new feature—it can lead to crawl budget problems as well.

One way to avoid this issue is to add a homepage module that links to hub pages (often category pages) on which the new feature pages are linked. Also ensure that you link between new feature pages to make it easy for:

  • Google to understand their relationship;
  • Users to navigate between them;
  • Link equity to pass across the new page template.

3. Relevance

Third, features need to address a new user intent or job-to-be-done (i.e. provide value). Examine the queries you're targeting with the new feature and make sure the information and value you provide are sufficient for users to get something out of it. Optimizing for search without optimizing for your users, brand, etc., has no future.

In addition to monitoring rankings for targeted query patterns, look at user satisfaction metrics, which depend on the original intent of the query. In most cases, it's either time on page, scroll depth, or a triggered click event. I recommend a mix of all three, if possible.

Making a case for new product features

Unless you're a small, agile startup, shipping new features isn't as simple as it sounds. You'll likely have to make a case to get developer and designer resources and bring your asks into the right formats for product teams to push them forward.

Three things will help you with your pitch.

1. Know the process

If you've never heard the term scrum or agile before, you're behind. New features need to be written in user stories to fit the scrum framework.

The pattern follows, "As a user, I would like to…" and describes the final outcome for users. Then, developers can create tickets for each piece that leads to the outcome.

Also note that developers work in sprints, usually over two weeks, with a planning and retro session. If you can, be present in both to assess whether the feature is getting built the way you envision.

2. Define value

Product leaders often want to see an estimate of returns. Resources are scarce and need to be prioritized according to potential impact. In plain words, asking a team to build something "just because" isn't enough. You need to bring numbers.

Luckily, it should be relatively simple to estimate traffic from the queries you identified during query syntax research. Your job is to connect the potential traffic to a number that reflects business impact—dollars, ideally.

3. Start small

Launch Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) when you can. Either roll out a new feature on a subset of pages or with limited functionality. MVPs allow you to prove impact quickly, get more resources, and back up your roadmap.

Make sure you benchmark performance before you launch an MVP feature. Have a plan for measuring success and document your findings.


SEOs are often handed lofty goals and work under high pressure. They need to prioritize their efforts in a way that shows results; otherwise, they risk losing credibility and resources.

Companies that scale organic traffic with their inventory rarely need backlinks. More often, they need technical SEO. However, even the best technical SEO reaches a point when 90% of opportunities are maxed out, and growth slows. In this case, new product features in the form of new page templates or information types are key.

If successful, feature-driven SEO opportunities can help a company expand vertically, by targeting more verticals, or horizontally, by offering new services. SEO is a pull channel, and search volume is indicative of demand.

The biggest challenge is to get the necessary funding to go after such opportunities, and the way to overcome it is to make a strong, data-driven case.

The 15 Best Tools For Local Rank Tracking - Business 2 Community

Posted: 24 Oct 2019 12:00 AM PDT

It's no secret that local SEO has become more important than ever before. Checking where you rank in Google Maps, Bing Local and Yahoo Local is crucial for any business that wants to grow a local presence. 46% of all searches on Google are looking for local information. Besides, 28% of those people search for something nearby results in a purchase.

Google will continue to roll out updates and changes related to local SEO in a bid to improve the search experience. Therefore, you should track your local rankings and be up to date with any changes in them. That's where you need to use the right tools for local rank tracking and gain a competitive edge in your field.

Fortunately, there are a bunch of SEO tools that can help you keep track of local search rankings, reveal new local keywords, and compare your competitors' keywords and rankings.

SE Ranking is one of the most powerful tools for easily local rank tracking. The tool can be even narrowed down to cities and towns that will give you more control over ranking in local search. Moreover, you can get local keyword search volume data and find new keyword ideas that you can optimize for your area-specific web pages.

The tool provides a detailed picture of Google's SERP features with search queries and checks whether you are featured in them. It also gives you updated ranking results on Google Maps and mobile search results.

GeoRanker is a simple tool to check your website ranking down to ZIP code and on multiple platforms, such as Google Map, Google Images, Bing and more. It's very helpful due to its approach as it monitors your website rankings in real-time by using the heat map. You can also trace the evolution of your local rankings and generate White Label reports for your clients based on this data.

GeoRanker offers a bunch of special features that can help improve your local SEO. For example, you can benefit from local citation finder, paid competitive analysis, keyword prospecting, etc.

The dynamic keyword tracking allows you to improve your SEO process and marketing activities. The tool offers a 30-day free trial to test its basic features. To access most of them, you need to upgrade to a premium plan.

WebCEO gives you the ability to monitor keyword rankings on a lot of local search engines, including Google, Baidu, Yahoo, Goo, DuckDuckGo, and others. You can add specific search engines (up to 50) and locations (ZIP code, town, state) to keep track of search results right from your clients' locations. Moreover, the tool allows you to schedule a scan regularly to monitor any ranking fluctuations for your local campaign.

One of the most interesting features is the opportunity to check your website listing positions for branded queries on various local business listings like TripAdvisor, Yelp, Zomato, etc. The tool also shows how your competitors are doing for targeted keywords, and, using this data, you can improve your local strategy.

Whitespark is one of the best solutions for tracking and localizing your ranking data on Google and Bing. The Local Rank Tracker shows in-depth insights into your accurate organic rankings through the web and lets you monitor different local formats, including maps, snack pack listings, local citations, and the local pack. You can also figure out how your consumers are finding your website, what your competitors are doing right and adjust it to your business.

Whitespark's Local Citation Finder helps to speed up the citation process and make your business get listed where you need it. You can use this tool to monitor client's citations online and reveal new places to list your clients. It's a very affordable tool that helps get higher local search rankings for your projects.

BrightLocal is a professional all-in-one SEO platform that is designed for business owners to manage and analyze performance data such as local and mobile rankings, customer reviews, local business listings, social media interactions, etc. The best thing is the ability to track your rankings within one tool and see how your websites are ranking locally and in nearby places.

You can easily automate this process by sending you weekly or monthly reports to your email. All reports are white-labeled and accurate, and you can even get reports on third-party results, including Youtube, Yelp, etc. You can track your rankings against up to 5 competitors and take tactical decisions to help you overcome the competition. The tool allows you to track any ranking changes over time that makes it easy to get a complete picture of how your rankings change.

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UpCity comes with a lot of great features like local keyword ranking, competition citations, website health that is great for business owners and SEO specialists. You can use this information to customize your reports, monitor SEO progress over time, and get actionable recommendations to improve your local rankings.

UpCity lets you optimize your Google My Business listings, manage online reviews, and keep track of competitor information in addition to local search terms. This especially helps with your on-page optimization. Once you've made it, you can check out your return on your work with UpCity.

CognitiveSEO is a great solution for monitoring and improving your local SEO. The tool includes a variety of great features like a rank tracker, keyword research, content optimization. The Rank Tracker helps you get a complete picture of your keyword performance and search volume. It provides advanced options to track your local rankings on desktop and mobile devices and get a detailed view of your keyword position for daily or weekly ranks.

CognitiveSEO also gives accurate results for universal tracking. You can add the same keywords to your projects at different locations. Make sure that the tool can show different keyword positions for global, local and mobile rank tracking based on the same keyword or keyword phrase. Anyway, it lets you be in touch with your geo-specific rankings for any location of your choice.

Synup is an all-in-one local marketing solution that allows you to manage and optimize your local business content. The tool helps you evaluate your local listings, track your website rankings, monitor your analytics, create reports, and manage your online reputation. It is easy to use and gives you a strong foundation where your business is listed, how and where to improve your local SEO.

Synup lets you navigate location data on 200 local directories and search engines and manage everything in one place where you can easily analyze your local performance. The tool sends instant alerts once a customer leaves reviews or mentions about your business. You can immediately respond to reviews within the tool and improve your local reputation. Synup allows you to export all the information you need in .pdf, excel and CSV formats.

TribeLocal is a great local SEO tool for managing your local business reputation and listings. You can easily track local rankings on SERPs for keywords related to your business. The tool helps you conduct a detailed competitor analysis and figure out how they are ranking to beat them. The tool integrated with Google Analytics that lets you track these rankings on the dashboard as well.

TribeLocal makes it easy to generate white-label reports for your business, export valuable data and add unlimited users to manage your projects. The tool gives you a score of your local performance and shows what is lacking in local optimization. The main feature of this tool is the ability to enhance the online performance and presence of your business.

Linkio is created for SEO experts to improve local SEO for your business. The tool comes with a variety of useful features like backlink monitoring, anchor text optimization, and keyword rank tracking. One of the most useful features is the ability to visualize and track the performance of your backlinks against your average rankings.

You can easily get accurate results from a particular location in Google Maps, Google Places, and Google organic. The tool monitors both desktop and mobile results in around 170 countries. Thanks to its integrated local tracking system, you can track daily website rankings and view how your backlinks affect your Google Rankings.

Moz Pro is one of the most popular SEO tools for content marketers, small businesses, and SEO gurus to increase their local visibility and monitor any listing issues. I find Moz Pro useful as a browser extension that shows website influence without any further research. The tool displays your search visibility, local keyword rankings, overall movement up or down, and what keywords own featured snippets. It monitors the top 50 ranking positions for your target keywords, and all the ranking data you can see as +51 in your report.

Nightwatch is a great addition to your marketing arsenal. The tool offers great allowances for tracking local keywords and backlinks. You can view how multiple segments of your keywords are ranking and comparing to your competitors. Nightwatch uses the most accurate approach that helps access any search engine from any location and gathers accurate ranking data with minimum inaccuracy in the data.

The tool goes with the ability to set different filters and view different factors including Map Pack and SERP placements that are icing on the cake. Nightwatch automatically does all the work for you, reveals your audience's behavior patterns and new trends for your niche.

Chatmeter helps you find effective ways to make your life easier when it comes to local tracking. The tool allows you to improve your "near me" search strategy and outperform competitors everywhere. You can easily see how your rankings grow in real-time, which stores need some changes, which ones are getting featured in the local pack, and how your rankings are changing over time.

LocalFalcon is the first rank tracking tool specifically designed to gain insight into local pack rankings. The tool offers a great way to visualize how you rank in different locations with multiple zip codes and track the coverage strength of your Google My Business listing. You can easily monitor and see results within a few seconds.

Notice that LocalFalcon is a part of dbaPlatform created for digital agencies to automate Google My Business management and take control of a local search. The main thing about LocalFalcon is that you can manage your tasks and improve your local rankings within the tool interface.

seoClarity is a powerful SEO solution that allows you to look at your rankings from Google's hyperlocal results to the global ones, monitor trends in the SEO landscape, and check out how many keywords are generating traffic to particular web pages. The keyword rank tracking feature goes beyond typical rank tracking by including 27 different parameters for each keyword that helps you go through in-depth SEO research you've never experienced before.

Wrap up

If you want to succeed locally, you should develop local optimization and make it visible in your locations. You know that SEO can make or break your company. Using these SEO tools, you can get valuable insight into the way your business shows up for customers in local search. You can check out different tools from this list and find the right one for your local business.


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