Imagine dropping a feather into an Olympic-sized swimming pool full of brightly-colored feathers. Now, imagine trying to figure out how to pull people to your fluffy little feather buried deep inside that pool.
Welcome to the challenging world of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
There are, at last count, over a bazillion websites on the internet.
…they just added 326 million more.
With that many sites battling for attention and supremacy, it’s surprising any site manages to rank high in organic searches. Yet they do, through sheer determination, true grit, and following a strategic plan of SEO tactics designed to make their sites stand out, even in a pool full of feathers.
Now let’s assume you’re one of those determined companies doing their due diligence and your site is high on the fickle Google roller coaster. Congratulations. Job well done.
Whoops. Look at that. Your organic traffic suddenly dropped. What do you do now?
First off, don’t panic. It’s normal. Expect that pool of a bazillion feathers to abruptly shift occasionally and knock you down a few pegs.
When that happens, and the oxygen mask suddenly drops into your lap from the panel above, take a few puffs of air and ask yourself (or your IT team) the following seven questions.
1. Is Google out to get me?
Just kidding. Sort of.
1. Did Google penalize me?
Okay, maybe Google is out to get you. Or it may seem that way if they slap a manual penalty on you. Your organic traffic will drop almost immediately, followed by a dreaded message from Google saying they just penalized you.
If that happens, inhale some more oxygen (try not to hyperventilate), and find out why you received the penalty. Fix the problems fast. Then submit an appeal to Google. It may take awhile, but in most cases, they will remove the penalty.
2. Which part of my traffic is dropping?
Is it your entire site? Only certain pages? Have your favorite keywords fallen out of favor? Dig into Google Analytics and do some sleuthing (CSI: SEO). Once you determine where the leak has sprung, it may point you toward the culprit. Knowing where the problem is is half the battle.
3. Have my backlinks changed?
Backlinking is one of the key factors in keeping your search engine rankings high. If the quantity or quality changes for some reason, your organic traffic may suffer. Analyze all incoming links connected to your site. Make sure they aren’t coming from untrustworthy sources, because that could affect how search engines view your site.
4. Have I lost returning users or new users?
If the number of users returning to your site drops, there may be a problem with your site itself. All it takes is one bad experience and you risk driving repeat users away. But if new users are staying away, it could be your keywords, content, or some other issue affecting how they find you during searches.
5. Is my competition up to something sneaky?
Peek over the digital fence at your competition. What are they up to? Did they launch new products? Have they increased their paid search budgets? Have new companies entered the market and they’re after your customers?
Run some Google searches with your major — and normally reliable — keywords. Are you now ranking lower than your competitors? Then it’s time to fight back. Ramp up your keywords, start adding better content, and kick your SEO into overdrive.
6. Is it time to change my site content?
Compelling, high quality content isn’t the only thing that pulls people to your site. It’s also how often you change it. One of the factors Google algorithms take into consideration is whether sites add new content on a consistent basis. So, if you haven’t added anything fresh in awhile, it’s time to start writing.
Or it could be the opposite. Did you remove content that was pulling search traffic? Then put it back or find content that pulls just as well or even better.
7. Do I need help from an SEO-savy marketing agency?
Maybe. If you looked into all the possible issues I listed above, but your organic traffic is still dropping, we can help. SEO is a very specialized art and a science. We understand it and live it every day.
We’ve helped push several companies’ rankings higher and kept them there through an integrated, focused regiment of strategic SEO development, content creation, and other tactics.
So, if you’re suffering from a drop in organic traffic, don’t let it ruffle your feathers. Contact us today.