Let me know if this story sounds familiar…
A few years ago you had your business website.
Things were going well for a while. Your designer did a great job. You worked with a marketer or maybe even a marketing firm that helped you optimize your content for keywords. Traffic came to your site. Those visitors turned into customers.
All was good.
Then you started noticing that traffic was declining. The leads and customers started to taper off slowly. For some, this happened in an instant.
Changes In The Online World
Two big things changed in the last few years.
First, social media became a huge part of online interaction. People spend a crazy amount of time on Facebook connecting with friends and family. They don’t really care about business so much, but they’ll pay attention if you offer a discount. Who wants that? You’re worth more than a cheap discount.
People are using Pinterest to find inspiration. They’re using Twitter to get their news. It’s a social sharing world.
Second, the search engines (Google) changed some things up in the way they rank content. Fresh content became important. Universal search provided fresh updates and different types of results. Everything from text to images to video to location were added to the results.
If you didn’t make changes you were left behind and your traffic probably went down.
And that’s where you are today.
The Answer: Blogging And Content
The answer to all this is to create a strategy that will deliver the type of content people like to share and consume on social media. It’s also the type of content the search engines like to give to their users because it’s what people are demanding. Fresh content is the answer.
Blogging offers a convenient way to provide your ideal audience with the content they want.
You can give them something, earn their trust and earn their business.
Let’s back up for a minute.
Let’s say your business has been doing alright, but you’re afraid you might lose traffic. You already have the answer for how you can avoid this fate, but if you need a little more proof then here are five early warning signs that your traffic is about to decline.
1. You’re Big Keyword Wins Are Fading
It’s alright if you have some big keyword wins. That means you’ve created something that your target audience finds valuable and interesting.
But if you rely on these big terms too much you’re setting yourself up for a big fall.
This happened early on when I was creating Country Music Life. It wasn’t something I did on purpose. I was just creating a blog as a side project and happened to start ranking for some really good terms.
The issue happened when Google made some changes to the type of content they ranked. Instead of reading a list of 50 great country songs, Google started showing great country songs on YouTube on the rankings.
People were demanding more video and Google obliged. I had to keep up or lose the rankings.
That’s the point. If you start losing traffic because your big keyword wins are fading it’s not that you’re doing anything wrong. It’s just that others are doing more than your website that has had the same content for 3, 5 or more years.
Solution: The solution for each of these will be the same or similar. If you want to win these keywords back you have to be better than the best result. That usually means updating your content and giving your audience everything they want. If you used to rank for “Plumbers In Pittsburgh” and don’t now you probably have to update your local information, share your information with Google Places and Google+ and start creating content that will generate good reviews and shares on social media. Maybe even create a few helpful videos that provide your customers with some simple tips for DIY plumbing around the house. If you’re not doing it you can bet the competition is.
2. You Have Zero Social Traffic
If your website has been keeping its traffic over the last couple years without any social traffic then you’re doing alright.
However, I don’t think it can last forever. It’s either that or you’re leaving some traffic on the table and you don’t know what you should have.
People are sharing all kinds of content on social media. Go to your favorite site once and see what people share. It might be a little unique content here and there, but the thing people share most is content from somewhere off the social network.
Solution: If you want to win in today’s online game you need to create the content people share. Earn the attention away from the social network and start getting your target audience to care about you. That’s how you can win them over to earn their business.
3. Other Sites Don’t Link To You
This one is similar to the one on social media. In order to get traffic – in fact, the biggest way to get traffic – is to get it from someone that already has an established audience.
This comes from other people linking to your website and the content your website has.
If you’ve never gotten much traffic from other sites it’s because they don’t see anything worth linking to. That’s a problem.
Solution: Start looking at sites that share your audience. See the type of content they are interested in and start creating that type of content. Then reach out to the websites via email and share the content with them. If it’s truly worthwhile they’ll share the information with their followers because it makes them look good and you’ll get traffic.
4. Your Email List Isn’t Growing
Email is old school online marketing, but it’s more important today than ever before.
So many traffic sources are out of your control. You can react to the things the search engines and social networks do, but you won’t ever control it. That’s a losing battle.
If you want to take charge of your traffic you have to start getting permission from your audience to share content with them directly.
Solution: This means you have to start creating the type of content your audience wants to see on a regular basis. We’ve found that blogging works well, but you have to keep up with regular updates. You’re feeding the beast, but if you do it you win direct traffic to your audience without having to worry about the search engines and social networks.
5. The Competition Is Building A Content Strategy
Go out and look at your three biggest competitors. If you see videos, blog posts and other content in their sites then you’re in trouble. They’re doing all these things listed here and it means you’re already behind.
Building a content strategy takes time. Well, the strategy doesn’t take time, but it does take time to create the content that will bring in traffic to your website.
Too often I see people panic when it comes to lost traffic. They start paying for it in various ways. That’s a mistake. If you buy an ad you have to keep paying for it over and over otherwise the traffic you get will disappear.
And that traffic might not even be good. It’s usually disruptive to your audience.
A better route is creating your own content. When you write a blog post and publish it the post will always be there to bring in traffic. Even if you never write another one you’ll still have the one you’ve published.
It’s there for your audience to discover via search, social and sharing.
That’s how you can turn things around.
Is this happening to you?
If you’re worried this might happen to you or someone you know please share this post with them.
Image: Justin Taylor