Lesson 2: Low-Hanging Traffic Opportunities
If you want a quick and easy way to improve your organic search traffic, this lesson is for you. Keep reading, and you’ll learn a simple 4-step process that boosts traffic without a ton of work.
Here’s How It Works
Here at Ahrefs, we see this situation all the time: websites that have pages ranking on page 1 of search engines but not in the Top3.
And while ranking #5 or #7 for your target keyword may seem good—you scored a page-1 position, right?—the reality is these positions don’t get much traffic.
Ahrefs’ data science team recently studied how many clicks the Top10 search results get in Google, and here’s what they found:
- The Top 3 results get about 60% of all clicks (unless the SERP is full of ads and “SERP features”—they can lower your clickthrough rate substantially).
- Position 4 gets only about 6% of clicks.
- Position 5 gets 5% of clicks.
- Positions 6-10 get less than 4% of clicks.
Obviously, if you have pages ranking #4 to #10, you can get a huge traffic boost simply by pushing them into the Top3 positions. Here’s how to do that.
Step 1: Find Your Under-Performing Pages
Use Ahrefs to find the pages that are in this sweet spot, ready for an optimization boost.
- Type your website into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer.
- Go to Organic Search > Organic Keywords report. (Look in the menu on the left.)
- Set the “Positions” filter from 4 to 10.
- Click on the “Volume” column to sort the most popular keywords first.
This will show you the page ranking #4 to #10 that are most likely to benefit from your optimization efforts. Your goal is to find the highest volume pages on this list that could benefit from some optimization efforts.
- Go to the Organic Keywords report.
- Set the filter for the positions you want to optimize (e.g., 4 to 10).
- Sort the page by Volume.
- Find the pages with a high-volume keyword that would be relatively easy to update.
- Make a list of your best opportunities. Then go to Step 2.
BONUS: If you want more low-hanging optimization opportunities or if you’ve already optimized your page-1 results and want to find more opportunities, here’s how to do that...
Run the report again, following the steps above. But this time, set the Positions Filter from 11 to 50. Look for pages with a high-volume keyword that could easily be bumped up a page in the SERPs (pages in position 11 or 21, for example).
Search volume shows you how many times the keyword is searched per month in a given country. In different countries, the volume will be different.
Step 2: Update These Pages
This step is actually a no-brainer. But that’s what makes it so cool—no rocket science required!
Google loves it when you add fresh content to your website. So simply by adding new, relevant content to a page and updating the publish date, you can signal to search engines that the page has been refreshed and is worth ranking higher.
But don’t update the page blindly. Do a bit of research first.
- Study the pages that currently rank above you and try to make your page better than any of them.
- Get inside the heads of searchers and make your page the best search result they could possibly get for their query.
It’s not a huge amount of prep-work, but it will help you create a page that search engines want to rank higher.
In the screenshot above you can see who ranks above Teleflora for the keyword “flower meanings.” We’ll need to open each of these pages and review them closely. For bonus points, look at the pages just below your page as well. It may give you even more ideas about how you can update your page.
As you do this, ask yourself:
- Why would Google put this page ahead of ours?
- Why is it a better experience for the user to land on this page versus ours?
- How can I improve on it?
Then go back to your own page and make it at least as good as your competitions’ pages. Keep in mind the search intent searchers probably have for your keyword.
Here are some ideas for adding value to your page:
- Add new research
- Update statistics or facts
- Add graphics, images, and other media
- Provide answers to people’s most common questions
Why does this work? Google is known to give preference to pages that are kept up to date. By keeping your page fresh, especially if you update the date stamp too, you can often outrank older, out-of-date pages.
- Do a Google search for your page’s target keyword.
- Find the pages that rank above it.
- Open them all and evaluate. Try to figure out why they outrank yours and how you could make your page better.
- Update your page with the ideas you gathered from research.
- Update your page’s date stamp.
We don't recommend you to update your date stamp without actually updating any content on your page. Google might later realize that nothing really has changed and push you back where you were before.
Step 3: Use Internal Linking
Every page of useful, relevant content can strengthen your SEO. And in this step, we’re going to use that fact to our advantage.
Have you heard of “link juice”?
It’s a relic from an old Google metric called PageRank, but the concept still works. When a powerful page on your website links to any other page, it sends it “link juice,” giving it a small authority boost right away. As a result, the linked page could move up in search results.
Mind you, internal links aren’t a huge ranking factor for Google, but it can still help.
And that’s why we’re going to add internal links to your newly refreshed page from the pages on your site that search engines perceive as important.
What's an "important" page in the eyes of Google?
It’s a page that has a lot of backlinks from other websites.
And in Ahrefs, you can easily find those pages by looking at their “UR” (or URL rating). This metric rates a page’s perceived importance based on the number of backlinks it has from other sites.
Learn more about Ahrefs' UR metric here: Ahrefs’ SEO metrics explained
To start, you need to find the pages on your website that have the highest UR:
- Put your website into Ahrefs' Site Explorer
- Go to Pages > Best by links (see the menu on the left)
Review the results and decide if any of them could give a relevant link to the page you just updated.
Pages with a higher UR are your most important pages. When building internal links, look for pages with a high UR that relate to the page you’re linking to. But don’t overdo it! Only link if it makes sense to do so. Otherwise you're just diluting the value of these links.
Other than linking to your target page from top pages of your site, you might also want to link from any other relevant pages (even if their URL Rating is low). The mere fact that the two pages are related is enough reason to interlink them.
- Open the “Best pages by links” report for your website.
- Find the pages that have a high UR and are related in some way to your newly updated page.
- Go into one or two of them and add the internal link.
Step 4: Build New Backlinks
It has been recently confirmed by Google (yet again) that backlinks are still one of the 3 biggest factors in their ranking algorithm. Unlike internal links, which carry just a little bit of weight, links from other websites are one of Google's major ranking factors.
So the best way to boost your page’s rank in search results is to build more backlinks from other websites.
Unfortunately, link building is insanely hard—and too complex a topic to cover in this lesson. In upcoming lessons, we’ll dive deep to uncover smart strategies you can use to boost your newly updated page even more.
For now, just keep in mind that links from authority (or at least respectable) sites are the final step in pushing your pages higher in SERPs.
Check out our in-depth guide to link building for more actionable advice on building backlinks.
The good news is that getting more traffic doesn’t have to be a chore. You can boost your ranking for your target keywords with a few easy tweaks, just by updating existing content and adding some internal links.
And with Ahrefs, you can easily find the pages that are most likely to give you good results.
So what are you waiting for? Go run your Organic Keywords report. And let us know how it works for you.