How to Recover Your Lost SEO Traffic
The sad truth for many website owners and bloggers is that search engine optimization (SEO) doesn’t always work the way it should. You can do everything right, then one day find that your visitors have dried up. Maybe you even made a mistake in the code, or perhaps there was a glitch in your analytics software. In any case, if you want to get back on track quickly, follow this guide. I’ll also show you how to make sure this kind of setback never happens again.
How Search Engines Work
Let’s look at how search engines operate so we know what they are looking for when ranking websites for specific search queries.
Google, like all search engines, rewards pages that offer the best user experience and deliver relevant information to user queries. Google then decides how it ranks various websites based on a few factors:
- Page Authority – How authoritative is the page (PageRank)? The more relevant content and links there are on a web page, as well as outside sources pointing to this page, the more likely it will be ranked highly for specific keywords.
- Quality of Links – The number and quality of other sites linking to your website or webpage; “A link from an established site with good rankings for other related phrases is considered to have some authority.”
- Keywords in Title Tag – John Mueller of Google has confirmed that the title tag continues to be the number one priority for search engines to determine relevance. Titles are by far the most important on-page SEO factor, responsible for 7 out of 10 search engine ranking positions.
- Keywords in URL – If you use keywords that are relevant to your website’s content, then it will help with rankings. Be specific and avoid overusing keywords, though.
- Keywords in Meta Description – A description meta tag should have between 150 and 160 characters. Use your target keyword phrase once at the beginning of this description so it has a chance to appear as close to the top of page results as possible without being cut off.
- Keywords in First Paragraph – Google usually shows about 15 words before cutting off any meta description tags. Use a keyword phrase in the first paragraph of your content, but don’t overdo it.
- Keywords in Body Content – You must include keywords throughout your website content, but make sure you do so naturally and avoid obvious repetition.
- Frequency of Updates – If Google sees that there’s been activity on a page or site they’re looking at, this is usually a sign that it is being maintained and updated with relevant material that could affect its overall ranking.
- Amount of Traffic from Search Engines – A high volume of traffic from Google sends a strong message to other search engines about how relevant your website is for certain key phrases.
The bottom line: search engines reward websites with fresh relevant content, along with external links to this content (from other websites), and more signals saying your site is authoritative.
The Trouble with SEO Traffic
So how did you lose that traffic, to begin with? Most likely, you had some or all of the following problems:
- You changed/updated your website, but didn’t change the title tags and meta descriptions of each page. Try to keep these consistent during major updates to avoid confusing search engines.
- Your website’s on-page optimization is not up-to-date so it no longer matches or includes important keywords for ranking in Google or other search engines. For example, if you used your target keyword phrase “dog training methods” 5 years ago when it was difficult to rank for this phrase online, but now you’re getting traffic from “how to potty train a puppy” instead, then your on-page optimization is outdated.
- You didn’t add enough high-quality links to the pages in question. Remember, it takes a lot of high-quality external links from other publishing websites or blog posts for Google and other search engines to consider your web pages as worthy of ranking for specific keywords. If that’s what brought traffic in the past, but now you don’t have enough because there are not many established websites referencing your site, then your rankings will suffer because you need authority/trust signals from outside sources to reach page one results in Google and other search engines.
- Google changed its algorithm(s) again. This happens frequently – sometimes monthly. Google’s goal is to provide the most relevant results, which means they’re always tweaking their algorithm(s) in order to weed out spam and provide real-time search engine results.
- You published poor content, or your website is not very popular (small amounts of traffic coming from few sources).
Patience Pays Off
Google has ways of tracking content quality over time. If it sees that only 1 person has commented on one of your web pages but another page with lots of comments ranks higher for a particular keyword phrase, then it will know your low quality/unpopular page should not rank as high as the other page with more engagement (comments + shares). Keep track of everything you publish on your site so that if something changes, you can adjust your on-page optimization at those problem locations.