Question: I started investing in SEO, but I've seen my traffic decrease. What's going on?
Answer: Looking at a declining Organic traffic report showing a reduction of search engine visits can be startling. There can be a number of factors that cause a traffic decline.
A positive scenario that’s completely normal: If a website is getting its first “search engine optimization” treatment from an experienced marketing professional, a drop in traffic is not only expected – it’s a good sign. A good Search Marketing Specialist works to understand a website’s focus, unique selling points and industry jargon to optimize the site with accurately descriptive and relevant keywords. Once appropriate keywords have been selected and implemented on the site, Google bots crawl and reindex the new optimization. If a site previously had no optimization in place or broad/irrelevant keywords in the content, a traffic decrease means we are clarifying the purpose of the page to Google. Google is refining their understanding of your site. Rather than ask why traffic is down, see if the sales conversion rate is increasing or decreasing. High traffic is of little value if Google isn’t sending visitors who convert into sales. Google Analytics is a powerful tool that helps make sense of your customers and how they interact with your site.
A second, completely normal reason for organic search to decline post-optimization is a slow season within the industry. An investment in SEO will not make a site immune to greater customer sales trends. If optimization is undertaken during a slow period, expect to see traffic grow or conversion rates increase once the normal seasonal traffic returns.
Now let’s address a negative example of optimization gone wrong. If traffic is declining month after month post-optimization without the conversion rate or bounce rate improving, you could have larger issues. Make sure you’re using clear category architecture, a simple ordering process and as few clicks as makes sense to reach products. Check out your competitors’ site navigations for some ideas. The linked article covers this scenario and provides steps on fixing your categories.
Once you’ve confirmed a sound category architecture, look at your Meta Title tags and keyword selections being targeted on the site. To capture relevant traffic that attracts customers and converts, fill the Meta Title with keywords that represent what a grouping of products have in common. The article linked in the previous paragraph covers this topic and provides insight using a fictional sporting goods store. Optimizing a website is more than just picking the search terms with the most search volume, the products and their attributes must align with the selected terms for Google to do its job. This video is a nice introduction to keyword selection.
Confirming category structure and selecting the right keywords are a big piece of on-page optimization; however, there are other best practices and off site elements that Google also takes into account. We recommend staying up to date on best practices; using Google Search Console to find opportunities to improve your site; and checking our blog on a regular basis.
Question: I have content on my site. Does it really need to be optimized?
Answer: Having content on your site is a great start to creating a website that draws lots of traffic. However, it does not mean that the content is going to draw in lots of visitors on its own. Optimizing the content on your site will signal to search engines what your page is about, which in turn, will lead those search engines to bring up your page more in relevant searches – aka more traffic for you.
There are a number of SEO factors that should be optimized for every page of your site, regardless of what your content is about. Your content needs to be optimized by:
- Adding keywords to it that are relevant for the specific page; industry best practice is three to five keyword phrases woven throughout the text
- Including one and only one H1 header tag (you can read more about H1 tags here), and possibly other sub-heading tags if it makes sense
- Making sure your content is engaging so that your traffic wants to keep reading and doesn't lose interest. Tell your potential customers how your product or service will benefit them, and why. Think specifically about what problems you can solve for them.
In short, your website needs content and that content needs to be optimized so that your website will attract the traffic that is looking for it!
Feel free to add more questions for future Ask Volusion posts in the comments below!