What to do if Your Organic Traffic is Tumbling Down?

Analyzing the Problem

Referral traffic, paid traffic, direct traffic all have their own significance but if your website is content heavy and you are trying to cut down the costs on bringing traffic to your site, getting organic visitors is the only way out. We all do the hard work, try every technique in the book, pay heed to every advice from the experts but what to do if we find the organic traffic still going down? Although it might look that you are doing everything right at SEO but here is a checklist which might come handy to analyze what is going wrong:Organic Traffic

  • Still with the old school tactics? Starting from the very basic as the Matt Cutts (Head of Web Spam Team at Google) has mentioned Some websites are out to make a quick buck (not thinking of their customers/visitors), or they have been misguided by an agency or by some black hat SEO magician that it’s OK to use tricks.  Are you still doing your SEO thing as:
    • Submitting to a bunch of directories like 1000 directories for 20 bucks?
    • Churning out low quality content and submitting them to a vast number of article directories?
    • Linking with sites who have nothing to do with your own niche?
    • Doing a press release and spreading it over every nook and corner of the web?

This clearly means that you are in the stone age of SEO and need to check with the latest developments in this domain and more importantly avoid the tricks mentioned above like hell.

  • Are you into buying links? Many SEO firms advise you to buy links from high PageRank pages and that too from .gov, .edu domains. They have a ready inventory for that but even the experts agree that these things are getting caught by Google and severely penalized. So if someone says that he’ll be getting you 10 high PR links from top ranked .gov and .edu domains for an exorbitant price simply run away from him, don’t hire him for your SEO efforts, what eventually he’ll be getting you is a definite loss in rankings, authority and even worse getting your website recognized as a spammy one in the eyes of Google. Search engines are evolving and hitting hard at spam to get relevant results for their users. As of now Google is ahead in the race but Yahoo, Bing etc. will catch up soon and the stakes will be the same- provide good and relevant search results to the users. So don’t fall for buying links just for the sake of SEO otherwise there are plenty of advertising options. If you remember Textlinkads which was heavily into buying and selling text links which was detrimental to the Google’s PageRank algorithm – how heavily it was penalized and the sites who were making money out of it were simply thrown out of the Google’s rankings. Don’t let it happen to you.
  • Is your SEO guy trying to be too smart?There is an ongoing tussle between the SEO community and the search engines. The SEO’s are trying to adopt new tactics (could be technical as well as non-technical) and the search engines are after them to crush their efforts. If your search engine specialist is telling you that he can bring in traffic by:
    • Redirecting or cloaking content
    • Hidden doorway pages
    • Showing different page for search engines and users
    • Writing white text on white background (hiding text and links)

It would be good that you show him the door as soon as possible. He’s living in a world which has been exposed thoroughly by the search engines and if you don’t believe our words go to the Google’s webmaster guidelines page and read it thoroughly.

Check your backlink profile:

  • Are you regularly checking your backlink profile? Yes it has become tremendously important and that for many reasons. Checking who is linking to you can help you determine many important things:
    • The rank of pages linking to you: Is it still the same or has it been penalized by search engines? Check the page rank, sites linking to it and other parameters like Alexa Rank etc. If the signs show improvement in these stats it’s worth keeping the link else get rid of that link. Do whatever it takes, ask the webmaster, tell search engines about it but make sure that you don’t get linked to sites that are losing their page rank and authority.
    • What happened to the directories, article and PR sites: As mentioned above a recent update of Google went heavily after these sites and devalued them to a great extent. It was natural that these sites lost traffic,  PR and authority. The signals were clear – no artificial linking process, just get natural high authority editorial citations. So if you are still having links from these sites on your backlinking profile simply log into your accounts on these sites and delete. It might hurt you somewhat in the short term but the long term gains will be significant.
    • What is my anchor text diversity: A natural backlinking process will show you a complete diversity in your anchor text of the links pointing to your website. How on earth can each one of the website owner linking back to you with the same term like ‘make money online’ unless it is your name? This is a spammy practice which is very easy to catch and thoroughly determines that your backlinking strategy is an artificial one. So if the majority of links pointing to your website are having the same anchor texts it’s time to wake up and sort things out. Make sure that you have proper anchor text diversity, though it might sound the same but the fact still remains that you can’t have all the world pointing to you with the same anchor text.

Regularly checking the backlink profilie of your website and archiving it will be beneficial for you in more than one ways. It will help you track what is working, what is not and where to put in your efforts so that the rewards are maximum.

  • Are your backlinks coming from the same niche? This is getting increasingly important as the search marketing is evolving and so the search engines are giving it a great value while determining the rankings of your website. Why this factor of links from the same niche? Think of it as a vote coming to your website from a website which is relevant to your theme. A dog food website getting a link from a pet shop will carry more relevance than a link from a flower selling website. The thing focuses around relevancy. If your SEO team is gathering links from all around the web without sparing a thought for the relevancy factor… there is a good chance that all that effort will go down the drain. Search engines have their own way of determining the theme of a website or even a page. The location where the backlinks come to you are very important. Make sure that you get links from the same niche, even if they are low in quantity but eventually they’ll pay off in the wrong run and will be of more value than 1000’s of unrelated links.
  • Is your content being copied somewhere on the web? The web is a complex place occupied with people with various mindsets. Nothing is more easy than to copy someone else’s hard work and put it on your blog. There have been instances that people who have copied had taken greater advantage from the content that was originally written by someone else. So if you feel this is the case with you, do a phrase search and if you have the budget use CopyScape to protect your content. Same goes with the persons who are copying content. Search engines don’t tolerate copied content and they finally catch the culprits and penalize them. So its better not to copy and not allow others to steal your content. If you find someone copying your content without proper attribution there is DMCA to go to and search engines will take care of the rest.
  • Are you following ethical Seo practices? Ethical or White Hat seo practices as they are called are simply doing what Search engines tell you to to while creating content for websites and adopting the search engine friendly format so that their bots can understand what your content is all about, what are the headlines, what are the images and other audio visual media telling the visitors and what is the overall quality and authority of your content. A good thing to inculcate in your seo process right from analyzing the keywords to putting the finished product on the web is to keep the visitor in mind. Give him the best experience and the best options where he can find the solution of his problem. Search engines are increasingly giving importance to such data like page load times, how many times your content was shared across social network, what was the time spent on your web page, where your page is linking to does your content has proper hierarchy, are you giving enough importance to usability and accessibility – there are lots and lots of factors that go in determining the worthiness of a web page to rank high. So make sure that your seo team has is well equipped to handle all the intricacies of getting ranked and yes as the search engines are rolling out new updates on almost daily basis the seo guys shouldn’t miss out on these or you’ll lose out to your competition who keeps track of the latest developments.

How to find out the damage done?

Analyzing the Problem

  • Check the analytics report regularly: Find out if there is a gradual drop over a period of time – it is a matter of concern. Make sure where your traffic is coming from and if there is any holiday or calamity or any other emergency situation that is hindering people to access your website or not? Give it some time – a monthly traffic report should be good enough. Compare it with previous period and if you find a significant drop – it’s time for some action.
  • Find out the keywords loosing traffic: Run a keyword report and compare them on a monthly basis find out the organic keyword, which were earlier ranking high and are now nowhere to be seen. Check their rankings on the web. There are many tools available for this. Find out what went wrong and who has taken your place. What has he done right to displace you from the top slot? Ask these questions from your seo and copyrighting team. Try altering the content, keywords, etc so as to regain the top slot.
  • Check Webmaster Tools: Webmaster tools give some very useful insights, the page load times, website outage; backlinking reports etc. analyze these data sheets and try to figure out what is going wrong. A day spent on brainstorming will be well worth if you are able to iron out the issues.

Conclusion:

Search engines are regularly evolving and their updates are giving jitters to many online business. The Google Panda update sent shivers through the spine of website owners. Within a week’s time many website lost majority of their traffic, some were totally wiped out of the search rankings.  There were people who were able to salvage their positions by requesting to search engines.  This makes a valid point to practice ethical seo and white hat techniques. But there is another option which is cropping up and spreading like wildfire. The social networking phenomenon.

People are now increasingly accessing web from mobile devices like pads and phones and social recommendations are driving sales. This bring in some good news for people who just don’t want to depend on the organic search traffic for survival of their online business. Social media experts, which promote brands, products and services through Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, FourSquare  are other resources that can complement the SEO efforts.

Search engines are also acknowledging this fact and the are also giving due recognition to sites, people and brands which are more popular among the social media. So in case your website rankings are tanked by any of the search engines there is no time to loose heart, in fact it’s time to be pro-active and find out what is causing the damage. Though the rankings might take some time to bounce back, if you find out the problem and take proper action you are on the right path. Always remember that there are other options now with advertisers, online business owners and entrepreneurs to bring in traffic.

5 Comments

  1. Fabrizio says:

    These are great tips and suggestions Anil and we all respect what we have to do with SEO to get good organic traffic if we want it badly enough, but just take a look at the list, it’s endless and to do all those things would consume so much time. I have quite a few backlinks from sites like Squidoo and HubPages as I’ve contributed some unique and useful content on those sites over the years, would you suggest I delete those articles from those sites?

  2. Tusshar says:

    Good Detailed Post Anil, really like it. Among all wonderful tips i find diversity in the anchor text extremely important.

  3. Rich says:

    Thanks for the reminder to regularly check my back link profiles especially now that anchor text diversity seems to have become a bigger issue than it once was. Not only that, but it’s a good reminder for me to occasionally take a closer look at my competitors’ back link profiles as well.

  4. John Gibb says:

    Anil

    I know people who still do what you’ve mentioned
    • Submitting to 1000’s of directories
    • Article directory submissions (low or high quality content, it doesn’t matter)
    • Linking to non relevant sites
    • Press releases
    And guess what? They get rankings!
    Plus, they make their niche case studies… drum roll please… public!

    Ah, and buying links are legit… Google simply put, don’t want your links to pass or get PageRank juice, that’s all.

    You guys have to understand that the web is a jungle… anybody can back-link to you, no matter what. You cannot really control this part of the game. There are companies who pay others to build bad links to your sites.

    I’ve recently read a case study on the effects of negative linking. The idea was that those links didn’t affect (improve or decrease rankings). I doubt it. All links count, more or less.. no follow, do follow, you name it.

    When it comes to SEO, you have to test new things for yourself, and don’t buy what others think or say. You have to own multiple sites. If one gets hit, you have remaining ones.

    If you have any further questions, let me know…

  5. Rudd says:

    Wow, very thorough explanation. Recently, Matt Cutts just announced the new algo for Penguin 2.0. Is there any way to tool to check whether some website is affected by the new algo?

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