Search traffic is essential to the success of your website. But what happened to yours?
Things were going so well. You had lots of search traffic, people were visiting your site, and even your bounce rate was low! You were excited because you know how hard it can be to increase search engine rankings. It takes time, effort… and lots of coffee.
Then, your search traffic fell off. Maybe it plummeted sharply. Where did it go? Have you been penalized by Google? Are you in Google jail? Uh-oh.
Don’t worry, you aren’t (I hope you aren’t).
Search engines are complicated things. If you don’t understand algorithms, you won’t understand the inner workings of a search engine. But even if you do understand them, you still probably won’t.
But here’s the thing: you don’t lose search traffic for no reason. If, as though all of a sudden, your rankings worsen pretty badly, the good news is that there is:
- a) a reason for this, and
- b) it can be fixed.
Identifying and fixing the reasons why your search traffic is essential because organic traffic often represents as much as 60% of your total traffic. If your rankings drop off, your long-term success is in danger.
If you were doing well but are scared that you might disappear into the dreaded darkness of page 7 of Google, let’s take a look at the reasons why you’re losing precious search traffic.
- 1 Reasons Why You’re Losing Search Traffic
- 1.1 1. Your keywords aren’t ranking as well anymore
- 1.2 2. Your page lacks authority
- 1.3 3. Your content is no longer organized
- 1.4 4. Technical difficulties
- 1.5 5. Poor site speed
- 2 Conclusion
Reasons Why You’re Losing Search Traffic
1. Your keywords aren’t ranking as well anymore
Essential to your on-site SEO strategy is keyword optimization. Pick the right keywords and optimize your site properly with them, and you could start ranking super well on Google.
You might even reach the summit of Google for a particular keyword.
However, you’re in a battle with a gazillion competitors, some of whom will be ranking for the same keywords as you. And if they find a way to get the most out of a particular keyword better than you, they will overtake you.
For every website that goes up a ranking, another website has to drop down — and it could be yours. You might be king one day, but know this: your competitors are always trying to outrank you.
How to fix it?
You need to stay on your toes. Choosing and using keywords on your site — from your landing page to your blogs to your meta-tags — is only the start. Once you’ve identified and added keywords, you need to spend time analyzing your performance to see how each keyword is ranking.
You can use Google Search Console to help you do this. Head over to your Search Traffic section on the left, and click Search Analytics from the drop-down menu. You will see a list of your top ranking keywords. Also displayed will be how many clicks and impressions each keyword has received over the last month. If you keep monitoring these clicks, you will be able to spot a trend that lets you know how well or how badly your keywords are faring.
If clicks drop off, you know that it’s time to do some work on a particular keyword.
Google Search Console dashboard
If your budget stretches far enough, you can use an all-in-one premium SEO tracking tool such as Nightwatch that gives you even more detailed reports into the exact rankings of your keywords on Google, Yahoo, Bing, and YouTube — as well as other crucial SEO metrics. This is valuable information that lets you know which keywords need some work, which ones need doubling down on — and which ones might need replacing altogether.
You can also use the same tool to spy on your competitors and the keywords they’re using. Why would you do this? If your search rankings are dropping off because your rivals have upped their game, it’s a smart idea to find out what they’re doing differently and reverse engineer it.
Average competitor rank comparison in Nightwatch
You have to see keyword optimization as a war. You have to track your performance regularly and implement necessary changes.
By hook or by crook, and with monumental strength of will and effort, you can get a fairly low authoritative page to rank well on Google.
Eventually, though, it will get overtaken by pages that have a lot more authority.
Look at it this way: if you post the exact same blog post to your low-authority page and a social media powerhouse like LinkedIn at the same time, the chances are that it will rank on LinkedIn much quicker than it ranks on yours.
Purely and simply, LinkedIn has more authority than you do.
Authority pages like LinkedIn rank high on Google
Whether content or links are more important has long been up for debate among SEO experts — knowing the answer helps you decide where to spend the greater amount of your time and budget.
If your page lacks authority, it’s time to make it more credible and claw your search traffic back.
How to fix it?
The best way to boost your site’s credibility is by securing more backlinks. This is easier said than done because backlinks are off-site SEO, which means you’re relying on other people to link out to you. However, there are ways to do it, and the easiest one is by going viral and thus getting seen by more people.
To do this, you need to create shareable content that contains eye-catching images, clickable social media buttons — and lots of value.
Alternatively, securing more backlinks can be as easy as guest blogging on other people’s sites. Find an authority figure in your niche, reach out to them with an idea for their blog — and include a link to your page in your guest post.
The more you do this, the more incoming links you’ll have, and the higher up the rankings you’ll climb.
3. Your content is no longer organized
Internal links are key to your sites architecture
Internal linking is just as important as securing backlinks because your site’s architecture is key to how well you rank. If your pages link out to each other, Google understands your site map very well. As such, it’s happy to rank you.
If on the other hand, your pages don’t link out to each other, Google might not even know that they all belong to the same website. This can be bad for your rankings because it will affect how your website is indexed.
When you first created your website, you might have linked from your landing page to your about me page and your contact page. Your site architecture looked sweet.
However, as you expanded from three pages to a hundred with all those blog posts and squeeze pages, you might have forgotten to link out to each page. As such, your sites architecture is messy, and Google is unable to understand your page relationships.
How to fix it?
Because internal linking is critical for ranking power within your site, you need to make sure that Google knows what your landing page is. You can solve this issue by adding a link with keyword rich anchor text to your landing page from a few of your other pages. Google will then know that your landing page is the one you want to rank for the most.
Be careful not to link too much to your homepage, however. Instead, focus as much as possible on the deep structure of your site — in other words, links that pass from one piece of content to another.
Your links should be natural, your anchor text should contain a keyword, and your links must always be relevant to your source content.
4. Technical difficulties
The dreaded error 440 message will put site visitors off and harm your rankings
For the not-so-technically-minded among you, this is perhaps the absolute worst reason you could be losing search traffic, primarily because it’s tricky to fix.
But look, sometimes websites run into technical difficulties. That error 404 page? It’s a nightmare for your site visitors – but it’s also a nightmare for your SEO campaign.
If you’ve recently changed the URL structure of your blog posts (perhaps you wanted to rank for different keywords, or maybe the title of the blog had changed), the links to the original page will disappear – and they’ll take your rankings, and subsequently traffic, with them.
How to fix it?
To fix this issue manually, you need to identify which pages are experiencing the technical difficulties. To do this, head over to Google Search Console and then click “Pages.”
Check the radio boxes before setting the data range. Once exported, this data will likely show you that pages from your earlier period were getting lots of traffic, while pages from your more recent period have hardly any.
If you’ve recently changed the URLs, this could be the issue. You’ll need to now either change your new URLs back to the old ones, or you’ll need to make sure that your old ones now have 301 redirects that point search engines and users in the direction of your new page.
To help you out, Redirect Path is a Google Chrome SEO extension that identifies your website’s technical errors so that all you need to do is go ahead and fix them.
5. Poor site speed
This is an issue because Google has already admitted that poor site speed (the amount of time a page takes to load) adversely affects rankings.
When your site was loading quickly, your search traffic was good. If it’s now loading slowly, your search traffic may have tailed off. A slow page speed might not even get crawled by Google!
Worse still, if your page takes too long to load and a site visitors patience runs thin, they’ll exit, leaving you with a high bounce rate — which can also take a toll on your rankings.
How to fix it?
Google’s PageSpeed Insights is a simple but important tool
First of all, it’s essential that you regularly test your site speed. You can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights, a free tool that helpfully lets you know why your site might be running slowly. Then, you just need to implement the changes.
The most common reason a site will be loading slowly is oversized images. When choosing images, make sure they’re compressed first and make sure their size doesn’t exceed your page size. For example, if an image is 1000px-wide, but your page width is just 570px wide, the image will too big and may slow down your loading time.
Sometimes your whole page is too big. If so, you can use a tool like Gzip to compress it all.
When choosing images, try to stick with JPEGs. PNG’s do work, but dated browsers don’t always support them.
To sum up, losing search traffic is scary and frustrating – but it’s not the end of the world, and it can be fixed. SEO is not something that works in the background while you sleep. You need to put in the time and effort and stay on top of it. Track your performance, monitor your keywords, and keep an eye on technical issues — and your competitors.
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