No matter how long your site has been up and running, it is possible for it lose traffic at any time. When this happens, you need to immediately diagnose the problem so you can begin your site’s recovery. Several things can cause your site to lose traffic. The primary reason for a loss in traffic is a drop in PageRank and search engine results pages (SERPs). Same holds true if you have struggled attracting traffic in the first place.
You can easily determine what caused your site traffic to decrease. An increase in competition can impact organic traffic rates. You should also check to see if your host server had any problems that caused your site to be down for a period of time. Depending on your web host service, you may or may not be notified of these types of issues although a good host will let customers know if they had a problem that interrupted services.
If you lost traffic the same day a major search engine updated their search algorithm, it is possible your site ranking dropped as a result of the update. You can verify the exact date traffic slowed by reviewing your site analytics. To get your traffic back, you will need to identify the problem that caused your rankings to drop. Once you have diagnosed the root cause of your traffic loss, take the following “first aid” measures to cure your website.
Revive Page Titles and Headlines
Good page titles begin with identifying the top keywords for your site. Don’t assume you know off the top of your head which keywords you should use. Take time and thoroughly research your options. If you are using keywords that are rarely searched, your search engine optimization (SEO) is dead on arrival. There are plenty of free online resources you can use to identify the top keywords for your niche. But don’t focus so much on keywords that you forget the importance of a good headline. Remember, you are actually marketing your products and services. Headlines should be compelling and engaging. Be careful not to mislead people with your headline. The content on the page should be related to the headline.
Exercise Title and ALT Tags
Don’t leave your title and alt tags sitting on the sidelines. Take advantage of them to improve the health of your SEO strategy. Add keywords toward the beginning of your title tag since search engines have different parameters on the number of characters they display. Write for your readers rather than search engines. Your title tags should make sense and not just list keywords. Keyword stuffing in title tags can actually cause search engines to not index your site for SERPs. It is equally important to use your alt tags when you include images on your site. Images are also included on SERPs and you can optimize our site so your images get ranked as well. Include a keyword in your image description for a properly optimized alt tag.
Breathe New Life into Content
Give Site a Face-Lift
Take a look at your site design. This includes the aesthetics as well as navigation. Make sure you have created a site that balances great feel with ease-of-use. Avoid flash or animation on your landing page. Visitors as well as search engines do not like that particular design practice. Verify that your internal links function properly and make sense for users. If a page has more ads than content, you need to remove ads or distribute the ads throughout your site so your pages are more balanced. Search engines may determine your site is too spammy if you have excessive affiliate ads on your site. Ad-heavy sites provide little value to search engine users.
Check Pulse of Customer Base
Are you providing your customers a good experience? Happy customers become loyal customers. Search engines are all about user experiences. If you also focus on improving your customer experience, you have a good chance of increasing your PageRank and SERP listings. Customer experience involves many elements of SEO including your site and its content. Provide the type of content your customers want to see. Don’t assume you know what that is. Read blog comments and feedback entries. Ask customers to rate their experience. You can easily do this during the checkout process. You can use a question survey to begin with and the question can be “based on your experience, would you refer this site to your friends?” Responses to this question tell you whether you are developing shareable content and if customers are satisfied enough to recommend your products and services to others.
Strengthen External Links
When you consider that search engines look at the number of backlinks to a site to measure its popularity, external links cannot be overlooked for SEO purposes. Search engines realize that many sites have manipulated this optimization tactic and are now penalizing sites that have improper backlinks. You need to review your backlinks to make sure they are valid. This means that all links need to be relevant to your site content. Excessive paid links can trigger a search engine penalty. And if your site is linked to a site that has already been penalized or banned altogether, you are at risk for the same outcome. You can run a check on your backlinks to confirm their SEO value. Eliminate links to link farms and spam sites. Reciprocal links should be limited and must be relevant. While the number of backlinks are still used by search engines for PageRank and SERP rankings, the quality of the links are more important than the quantity.
Stop Using Diseased SEO Tactics
Black hat SEO is more than unethical – it can be harmful to your online success. Search engines are getting more sophisticated in identifying these tactics and are fighting back. They have created algorithms to detect webspam, duplicate content, doorway pages, and malware, just to name a few of the practices that have come under search engine scrutiny. If you have been using black hat SEO methods, stop immediately if you do not want your site to lose SERP rankings. Don’t breathe a sigh of relief just because you have not been penalized yet. It will happen. If you are not sure what black hat SEO is you should learn about it. Site owners who outsourced their SEO and are concerned they might be at risk can hire an SEO company to conduct an SEO audit of their site to let them know if their site has black hat issues that need to be addressed.
Create a DNA Sitemap
A sitemap tells search engines what your site is comprised of in terms of content. There are two types of sitemaps you need to consider. An XML sitemap is used by search engines to index your site. An HTML sitemap is posted on your site for users. Both maps can have the same content but serve very different purposes. XML sitemaps are submitted to search engines and help get your site indexed properly. It can also speed up the indexing process. Users often view the HTML sitemap as a type of table of contents for your site. Rather than combing through your site, they can scan the sitemap to find exactly what they need.
Add Social Media to SEO Diet
Sites that have been around for awhile may not have integrated social media into the site structure or search engine marketing strategy. But this is fast becoming a major SEO tactic. Select a few social networks to join initially. You don’t want to have to manage too many accounts. Over one hundred options are currently available from which to choose. Select those that make the most sense to your site and users. You can optimize your social media use for better SEO results. When you provide quality content, site visitors can easily share that content through the identified social media platforms. This is an easy way to build links and get your message out to more prospective customers.
Call in the Paramedics
If you need professional help, get it! SEO companies can help you with your SEO strategy. Many provide audit services to help establish a starting point from which to work. The audit can identify SEO elements that are working and which need to be upgraded. An outside consultant can provide an objective review of your site and SEO to make sure you have leveraged every opportunity available that will drive traffic to your site.