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If your page is nailed to the 2nd or 3rd page of SERPs, is it good enough to drive traffic?
We’ve had questions like this from niche site owners who want to improve page ranking. And the answer we give every time is NO.
Here’s why: According to Backlinko, 92% of clicks from search results go to content on the first page, while the second page receives only 0.63% of total clicks.
This means, if you’re not on the first page, the content you spent hours or thousands of dollars to create will remain invisible to readers.
On the other hand, optimizing your content to rank on the first page doesn't just drive more clicks, but more traffic and business opportunities.
But then, it’s easier said than done.
Fortunately, at the time of creating this content, the news of the Yandex ranking factor leaks was making the rounds.
If you’re hearing about Yandex for the first time, it’s a search engine like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. We believe the leak is our gateway to understanding how most search engines like Google rank pages in general.
Leveraging this knowledge, we’ve outlined a couple of optimization practices that when done right, can help your page move higher up the ranking system.
Let’s take a look.
Can your site rank without backlinks? Yes, it can. But if it's in a competitive niche, it won't stay there for long.
If you think about it, backlink tells search engines that your content is valuable, and it’s also a way of driving traffic from other sites to yours.
Think about it: Imagine your site drives 10k monthly traffic, and you’re able to earn backlinks from a page with 20k monthly visits.
If you do your math right, redirecting 10% of clicks from that page to yours can help attract an extra 2k monthly visitors to your website.
However, with backlinks, it’s important to prioritize quality over quantity.
According to Alex Burak, one of the core ranking factors discovered from the Yandex leak is that search engines rate backlinks from the top 100 best sites in your niche.
How do you identify this top 100? Through competitor analysis.
One of the tools that can help with that is Semrush. On Semrush, their competitor's analysis tool will compile a comprehensive list of the top-ranking websites in your niche.
The list is compiled based on two factors: the number of keywords each site is ranking for, and their average position in SERPs.
To do this on Semrush, you only need to follow these three steps:
But wait! Why not input your URL instead? Well, if your domain is new, we doubt if Semrush will have enough data about your website to pull up your competitors.
Hence, the best way to get accurate suggestions is to input the URL of competitors that have been around for years and are considered an authority in your industry.
Once the list is done, you can export it into a CSV file and analyze it.
In our opinion, these are the sites you should prioritize for backlinks, and not the domains with ~30 DA score.
Want to learn more about driving backlinks for your sites? We recommend you read this comprehensive guide on backlink generation for SEO pages.
Aside from creating SEO-optimized content, it's also important to have an SEO-friendly URL structure. Since the Yandex leak came to light, experts have suggested implementing the following practices on URLs:
An example of an SEO-friendly URL structure is: seomatic.ai/increase-page-ranking
A bad example is: seomatic.ai/5-tips-to-increase-page-rankings
In addition to making your URL SEO friendly, we also recommend your URL gives a clue of what your page is about.
For instance, it's bad practice to have a page that speaks about "Losing weight with equipment" while your URL is about "Losing weight at home without equipment"
Content: Talks about how to lose weight at home without equipment
Not only will search engines fail to index your page, but your content will record a high bounce rate from readers.
When it comes to improving page ranking, high-quality content will always be a ranking factor.
However, the content landscape has changed since the inception of ChatGPT and helpful content update. Hence, average no longer cuts it on SERPs.
To create content that cuts through the noise, we recommend carrying out original research: Interview experts if you lack expertise. Also, don't forget to refresh your content regularly to add a TDLR section, an FAQ section to target more clustered keywords or add more infographics. Google will appreciate it.
This way, you avoid adding to the list of mirage content on SERPs that doesn’t add any value to the reader.
Featured snippets are search results that sit at the top of SERPs to offer summarized answers to search queries.
As the name suggests, they're meant to provide quick answers to questions and save searchers the stress of clicking to read the main content.
According to Search engine watch, featured snippets have an average CTR of 32%. The good thing about featured snippets is that no matter your page ranking if Google chooses a session of your content as a featured snippet, it automatically moves it to the first page.
While we aren’t sure of the factors Google considers for feature snippets, there are a few optimization hacks that will improve your chances:
Another factor that came to light from the Yandex leak is that traffic from organic search alone isn’t a good quality indicator.
Apparently, Google and other search engines love pages that drive traffic from both organic search and social media channels.
If you think about it, it makes sense for pages on the second page of SERPs not to rely on Google alone for traffic.
Since most visitors rarely get to the second page, distributing your content on social media will help you get some eyeballs to it, and possibly earn backlinks.
This way, Google interprets your page as a valuable one and ends up moving it higher up on SERPs.
When it comes to driving traffic, the best approach is to find opportunities from your existing assets, rather than creating new content.
If you have a page ranking in the #10 position, moving it by 4 spots can 10x your clicks from organic search. We believe the tips mentioned above will help you troubleshoot your page ranking when it seems static.