One of the treadmills of digital that has no stop button is SEO. Those working to boost website traffic and maintain the amount of visitors know that it is an endless chase – and any lack of pace is going to end up propelling you off the treadmill… I mean down the search rankings (which is much safer!).
But when those inevitable moments of tanking webpages crop up, our first thought is “what’s causing site traffic to fall?” And the all-too-frustrating common answer is “there could be multiple reasons!”
Today, we’re going to clear up the digital haze and look into the possible reasons behind falls in site traffic.
It can be the most terrifying aspect of site management and often one of the most unexpected – a sudden drop in traffic. Page traffic tends to be cyclical, with stats swaying up and down for a variety of reasons. Ultimately, it can hit the bottom line of business.
Maybe you’ve simply neglected SEO analysis for a few weeks. But if the numbers have been tail spinning consistently, then you’ll need to sprint to the SEO operating theater ASAP. You may be treating a symptom rather than the cause.
The four common problems
One: fluctuating search trends. SEO is not a static section of the digital landscape. It is captive to the whims and surges of people’s Google searches. As such, organizations need to track and maintain the pulse of trends.
A clear example of this are holiday searches. Businesses that are specific to seasons are prone to spikes in traffic at certain points, meaning you’ll need to optimize content with the associated keywords to reach out to more and more potential customers.
For the rest of the year, you’re going to want to track search trends in order to find new related keywords to keep business steady. Using tools like Google Trends is one of the best ways to keep on top of what’s trending. And from there, you can extract the data to discover new keywords.
Two: broken links. If you’re running an established website that showcases broad areas of business, then that website is likely to rack up a huge number of links. Do you know how many your site has? And more importantly for business, do you know how many of them are broken?
When you get a user navigating your website and stumble on a broken link, they will be confronted with a 404 page error message. We’ve all been there. And it’s a frustrating experience.
That is why businesses need to regularly check their websites for broken links by using digital tools such as Google Search Central, Semrush, or Ahrefs. It is so easy. Fixing broken links is such a short cut to elevating the user experience for all users – yet if they go unfixed, they’ll generate plenty of frustration.
Three: keyword cannibalization
Good SEO is not easy. If it’s not done well, it’s going to damage a website’s traffic and general search ranking. An example of this is keyword cannibalization, meaning that you’re trying to rank for the same keywords in too many places.
You may have the same keyword across multiple blogs or you’re trying to rank for multiple searches on one page – for example a sales page. In these scenarios, the keywords basically battle each other as your ranking tanks.
You can identify keyword cannibalization by conducting a search and seeing if two nearly identical pieces of content show up from your site. If you suspect this is happening, audit all of your content and decide which keywords are performing best. Then, you’ll have to merge, delete or redirect the others.
Four: shifting Core Web Vitals
Google’s roll out of Core Web Vitals has been one of the biggest changes to search engine performance for years.
Core Web Vitals are used to evaluate the performance of each webpage. They are made up of three metrics:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), which measures the time it takes between clicking a link and seeing the majority of the content on the screen.
- First Input Delay (FID), which measures the time it takes for a user to interact with your page
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), which measures the visual stability of a page
In short, Core Web Vitals communicate to Google how long a webpage takes to load, the level of interactivity, and whether the on-page content is stable for visitors.
Last year, Google announced that Core Web Vitals would become a ranking factor. As such, you could see a slip in web traffic if you’re not optimizing how your website works for visitors.