There have been quite a few cases of websites losing traffic lately.
This trend goes back a few years and continues today.
A main culprit is Google and recently Facebook joined in by cutting organic traffic.
We often hear about the big events, but what we don’t hear about as often are the little events and changes that happen. These are the changes most likely to affect businesses and their websites.
If you’ve been losing traffic recently and can’t figure out why then we’re here to shed some light on the situation.
Here are some of the main culprits for losing traffic.
Stay Tuned: At the end of the post we’ll share some strategies for getting your traffic back and making sure you don’t lose it again.
1. Google’s Panda And Penguin
Google has always made changes to the ranking algorithm and the rankings themselves. Two of the biggest changes in the last few years have been the Panda and Penguin updates. These changes were aimed at cutting down on the low quality content that was appearing in the results. Google also wanted to stop those that were manipulating the results by buying links or getting links in unnatural ways.
If you were doing any of those things and you lost traffic in the last couple years it’s probably a result of these two changes.
2. Google’s Preference For Google Properties On The Result Pages
In 2010-2011, I started noticing a big change in traffic to my site, Country Music Life. The site used to rank well for music-related terms, but Google made a change that put emphasis on video results. You’ve probably seen the images of YouTube videos for rankings of all kinds. It started with music, but is now the case for all types of searches. This change benefits Google since they own YouTube, but it’s also an indication that people are looking or more video content.
3. Google’s Preference To Answer Questions Without Any Clicks
This has always been a prerogative of Google. Their goal is to give people the best results possible and do it with the best possible user experience. For most things you search for on Google you get a result and clickthrough to a page on another site. Google wants to eliminate that step. They’re taking content from sites and showing it directly on the results page. It’s started with simple answers and continues with local searches. It will probably continue with other searches and as a result, websites will get fewer visits because people won’t have to clickthrough.
4. Google’s Freshness Update
In 2011, Google announced a change where they would put emphasis on freshness of content and results. They were finding that people preferred fresh content over old content unless the old content was still more relevant and useful than the new content. But the nature of life is that we get more information as time goes on so fresh content is more relevant.
Google even updated the way they crawl content with Caffeine. They can crawl more content faster today than ever before and it’s all aimed at getting people fresher updates.
When was the last time you updated the content on your website?
5. Google’s Local Update
There are more local results now than ever before on Google. People are using their phones to search for information and often they’re looking for local results like restaurants, stores, etc. It’s not always the case, but Google has recognized this preference.
6. Google’s Hummingbird Update
Google recently announced a big change in the way they rank content. They’re focusing more on the intent of searches instead of the actual keyword. If you’re focusing on keywords without focusing on the intent of the user you’re going to miss out on the traffic. Google knows that intent is more important than the keyword and they’re looking to help their users.
7. Google’s Authorship Update And Revisions
A major change with Google is the Authorship and Rich Snippets updates. This is the little image of the author that you see next to some results in the rankings. Google recently announced that they’ll scale this back a bit, but if you don’t have authorship markup on your blog you’re missing out on increasing your clickthroughs from the results pages.
8. Facebook Cutting Back On Business Page Update Visibility
Some businesses and other page owners on Facebook recently saw the referral traffic from their FB updates drop. Some said it dropped to about 20% of what it had been. That’s a huge drop.
Facebook announced that they would be cutting back on the number of times they’d show content from pages in the Newsfeed. This means that even if someone if following your page they likely won’t see your results unless you pay for advertising and sponsored posts.
9. More Competition In The Social Media Feeds
In general, there is more competition on social media today than yesterday. People only have so much attention to give so unless you’re really interesting and useful, people are going to ignore your updates. The same old same won’t work like it has in the past.
10. Lack Of An Email Program
If you’ve been focusing only on social media or other areas the last few years you may have failed to put emphasis on your email program. Unlike social media, your email program is in your control. If you haven’t started an email program it’s time to start it. Make it one of your top three priorities.
11. Slow Page Speed
There are a number of references about page speed having an impact on traffic. Google has placed high importance on it because they see how page speed affects users. When your page is faster you provide your visitors with a better experience. Google recognizes it.
You might notice that this site is faster than many others. We made the decision to use a hosting service that makes the site as fast as possible. And they specialize in WordPress.
We recommend using Synthesis Hosting.
12. High Bounce Rates
Do you use Google Analytics? If you do, Google knows everything about your site. If you have high bounce rates on your site Google will see it as having irrelevant content. People come to your site and quickly leave. If this is the case, Google decides to give users different results. And you get less traffic from Google.
13. Low Conversion Rates
The same thing is true with conversion rates as with bounce rates. If Google sees that you’re not converting traffic they’re going to try to give their users more relevant results.
14. You Haven’t Signed Up For Google+
This goes in line with authorship. Google+ is almost a requirement today if you want to get organic search traffic.
15. You Haven’t Started A Social Media Strategy
Maybe you’ve been waiting in the wings to see what would happen with social media. If you have then most of your traffic probably comes from organic search. If this is the case then you know by now that Google has made a number of changes. If you rely too much on one source of traffic you’re setting yourself up for traffic loss unless you keep up with the changes.
Building social media audiences gives you multiple sources of future traffic. It’s not easy, but it’s essential for long-term traffic.
16. You Are Part Of Too Many Social Media Sites
On the flip side, if you’re focusing on too many social media sites you’re probably spreading yourself too thin. Focus on the 1 to 3 networks that have the potential to provide the most traffic and stick to them. Don’t try to do it all especially if you have a small team.
17. You Stopped Blogging
Were you all excited about blogging only to give up and a month or two?
We see this all the time. People give up on blogging and content way too soon. They commit to the strategy for all of a couple months and then start changing and changing, looking for something that will work quickly. That’s not how it works. If you’re going to blog you need to commit for at least six months and probably for a year or two.
If you can’t do that then it’s better not to start at all.
18. You’ve Changed Your Blogging Strategy Too Soon
This is another one related to the one above. Take time to build a strategy. Change it slightly over time as you see the types of posts that do well, but don’t make sweeping changes all the time. Stay committed and over time it will work. Changing like crazy only turns people away from your blog.
19. You Don’t Link To Other Blogs In Your Posts
Not linking out? You might as well tell other sites not to care about you. Linking not only makes your site appear more reputable, but those links let other site owners know that you exist. It can lead to them linking to you and shares on social media sites.
20. You Don’t Write About Other Brands In Your Posts
Only writing about yourself? You might as well be telling other people not to write about you. Give some love on your blog. Email the people and let them know that you wrote about them. Mention them in your post on social media when you share your blog post that mentions them. This is how you build connections and get people to share your posts with their audiences.
21. You Don’t Mention Other Brands In Your Social Media Updates
Just mentioned this above. Talk about other people even with your social media updates. This exposes you to their audience and that leads to traffic back to your site. If you’re not doing it you’re missing out.
22. You Aren’t Publishing Interviews
Interviews are an easy way to write about someone else that has an audience. Interview someone in your industry and have them share the interview (to your site) with their audience.
23. You Don’t Have A Variety Of Traffic Sources
Kind of mentioned this one above. If your’e relying only on Google for traffic then you’re setting up your site for disappointment.
Social media, direct referrals, email, etc. It all should be part of your holistic traffic plan.
24. Low Or Zero Direct Traffic
Direct traffic is hugely important to the success of a site. If people aren’t coming directly to your site then you’re relying on others too much. Direct traffic results from word of mouth, good branding and a variety of other things.
25. Low Or Zero Repeat Traffic
Repeat traffic is another source of direct traffic and it’s good. Blogs that have a mix of short content that is updated multiple times a day get repeat traffic. People know they need to keep coming back throughout the day, week or month to get updates. If you’re not publishing anything new then people won’t come back.
26. Your Competitor Launched A PR Strategy
Now it’s time to get into the competition. If your competitors are doing things that you’re not doing they’re stealing your traffic. A PR strategy is one of those things.
27. Your Competitor Is Hosting Webinars
A webinar is another common way that your competition is getting attention.
28. Your Competitor Started A Blog
This one is killer. If your competition has started a blog they are going to get all kinds of traffic (after six months to a year) from search, social, email, etc. That’s all your traffic going right to the other guy.
29. Your Competitor Started Writing Guest Posts
Guests posts are still important to a content strategy. It’s not all about SEO anymore, but it is about traffic. If your competition is writing guest articles on popular industry sites then they’re getting the traffic that you’re losing out on.
30. Your Competitor Created An FAQ Page
FAQ pages are great for answering common questions. If your competition has an FAQ page that they keep updated every month or quarter then they have a huge resource that will draw in all kinds of traffic.
31. Your Competitor Started Writing Guides
Guides or tutorials are pieces of content that get long-term traffic. Update then over time and you’ll keep them fresh. People will bookmark them, share them and the search engines will keep sending you traffic.
How To Get Traffic And Avoid Losing It In The Future
By now the ideas are probably spinning in your head about what you should do to get back the traffic you’ve lost recently.
Instead of trying to do everything to get the traffic back we’ve got a priority list of things you can do to increase your traffic.
#1 – Start a blog. Commit to publishing 2 posts per week for at least a year. Publish answers to common customer questions. Create top lists that include important people and brands from your industry. Publish interviews.
#2 – Build social media audiences on 1 to 3 networks. That’s it. Don’t focus on too many. These will probably be LinkedIn for small businesses. Google+ for everybody and probably Facebook and Twitter no matter what. Use The Snippet Strategy to create updates and be sure to mention other people and brands in your updates so they will see and mention you back. This exposes you to their audience and grows your following.
#3 – Start your email program now. You can automate it to start with your blog posts, but plan to grow it from there. Put opt-in boxes on your sidebar and at the bottom of your posts. We suggest using Aweber.
There is more you can do, but we know that if the list gets too long you won’t be able to do anything. Focus on these three things. They’ll put you in a good place to fight off many of the things that are leaving you without traffic right now.
Hopefully this post has helped you figure out the reasons you’ve lost traffic.
You’re not alone in this situation. There are many businesses – big and small – that have dealt with traffic issues.
The good news is that you can get it back and the strategies you implement now will help protect your site against traffic loss in the future.
So take action today.