More website traffic. It's a goal shared by nearly every business in every industry. Increased traffic to your website means more leads, and ultimately more sales. If you've been wondering why your traffic has slowed, your rankings have dropped, or how to get visitors to a brand new site, you're not alone. We've rounded up the top 10 reasons why your traffic may have slowed, or (even worse) screeched to a halt.
If you want to see an increase in visitors to your site, be sure you aren't committing one of these traffic-slowing sins:
#1: Losing Sight of User Intent
What's the point of your content? If you're just churning out blogs, infographics, and webpages without trying to provide real value to your users, you're playing a losing game. How do you create amazing content that your users will love and want to share? By focusing on the intent of your audience.
Understanding why people are searching for a keyword or topic can help you create content that answers their questions, research a decision, make a purchase, or complete a specific task.
Before you write a single word, put yourself in your audience's shoes.
It's not enough to know what keywords they might be searching for. You need to understand the intent behind the keywords. What answers are they hoping to answer when they arrive at your page?
Google is looking for user intent when it returns search results.
And your users have an intention in mind when they perform a search. By focusing on that user intent, you can please both searchers and search engines, resulting in higher rankings and more qualified visitors to your site.
#2: Keeping it Short and Sweet
Once you've dialed in the intent for your content, be sure to give your audience what they're looking for. Don't be afraid to dig in deep, and fully explore a topic. You are the expert, after all. Sure, you may be able to answer your visitor's questions and help them research their decision in a short blog post. But in reality, shorter is not necessarily better.
Longer content is usually better for rankings, and writing more in-depth articles and blog posts can help bring in more website traffic.
A search engine results study found that the higher the Google SERP position, the more content the page had. The average content length of top 10 Google SERPs is generally 2,000 words or more.
"Longer articles generate business leads for a longer timeframe. This is because they attract backlinks and organic traffic from Google timelessly."
- Neil Patel, Online Marketing Mega-star
What's the secret to writing a longer blog post or more in-depth article without losing your audience's attention?
Keeping it readable.
When you create longer, more in-depth content it's even more important to pay attention to your formatting. Use the following formatting tips to keep your longer content easy to read:
- Divide sections with headers and subheaders.
- Use bullets and numbered lists.
- Vary paragraph and sentence lengths.
- Break up text (and improve credibility) with quotes.
- Using images thoughtfully.
By including more in-depth articles and longer content, you can increase website traffic, get more links, and improve the user experience for your audience.
#3: Allowing Content to get Stale
New content is great, but if you want to improve your rankings and increase traffic you should also freshen up old content once in awhile, too. You spend a lot of time creating content. You strategize, format, write, publish, and promote it. By updating an older post you can keep it relevant for new readers who find it for the first time. The best reason to update old content, however, is simple:
Google scores freshness, which can help your rankings.
How do you choose which content to update? Start with your top performing posts: the blogs which brought in the most traffic, inbound links, or social shares.
8 Tips for Updating Old Content
- Keep the URL the same.
- Avoid changing the post title in a major way.
- Remove outdated information.
- Replace outdated stats/ data with current facts and figures.
- Check links and replace as needed.
- Link to newer internal content where appropriate.
- Update the Call-to-Action.
- Don't forget to promote your newly updated content just like you would a new post.
Once you've updated your content, check the meta description to see if it needs a tune-up. While your meta descriptions don't affect your page rankings, they do invite your audience to visit your page with a brief and enticing description of what they'll find there. If your content has changed significantly, your meta may need to change, too.
When you update an existing blog post, infographic, or other content, you can save the time involved with creating new content from scratch. Best of all, you are keeping your website content relevant and useful to your website visitors, which is often rewarded with increased rankings.
#4: Ignoring Mobile Site Speed
You know that site speed is a major factor in your website rankings, and ultimately in how much traffic arrives (and stays) at your site. If you are focusing your efforts on increasing desktop site speed without paying attention to how quickly your site loads for mobile, you are making a big mistake.
Because Google considers page speed even more important for mobile devices. Don't take it from us. Here's what Google developers have to say.
"Optimizing a page's loading time on smartphones is particularly important given the characteristics of mobile data networks smartphones are connected to."
If your page speed is less than lightening fast, and you pair that with a potential visitor who has a weak signal, there is no way you are going to get that visitor to stick around and wait for your page to load.
A fast loading site doesn't just please visitors. Search engine crawlers only have a limited time to allocate to each site. The faster your site loads, the more thoroughly and consistently it will be crawled. When it comes to page speed, every second counts. Check your page speed on all devices (including mobile) with Google's PageSpeed Insights to be sure you aren't losing valuable time, rankings, and traffic.
#5: Not Revisiting Keyword Strategy
When it comes to keywords, avoid a "set it and forget it" mentality. Be sure that you are revisiting your keyword strategy regularly. Over time, search phrases can change. If your keywords are no longer relevant, your traffic is sure to halt.
How often should you look at your keywords and shift your strategy? Plan to perform a quarterly keyword "check-up" for best results.
As you analyze your keyword performance, look for your most valuable keywords. Use a tool such as Hubspot Keyword Tool or SEMrush, and pay attention to the Cost per Click (CPC) of each keyword. If a keyword has a high CPC, it's most likely generating income for people. Be sure to include these high value words and phrases.
Another thing to consider when performing your quarterly keyword audit is whether you are focused solely on high search volume keywords, or if you are also including commercial intent keywords in the mix.
Commercial intent keywords indicate a buyer's readiness to make their purchase. These may include words such as "buy," "coupon," "rent," "hourly rate," "comparison," or other phrases that indicate they have come to a decision and are ready to take action.
Constantly monitoring and tweaking your keywords is the only way you can remain relevant and continue to rise through the rankings. If you want to get more traffic to your site, be sure you are performing a keyword audit every quarter, and don't neglect the power of keywords with high commercial intent.
#6: Leaving Out Long Tail Keywords
When you focus on high intent keywords, you are most likely including long tail keywords to the mix. Not only are long tail keywords less competitive and easier to rank for, they will also drive the majority of your traffic.
You may want to rank for a term such as "business insurance," or "mortgage." But these keywords will have a lot of competition, and won't always bring the most qualified leads to your site.
Long tail keywords, on the other hand, can help signal intent and bring in the right audience. So if you are only focusing on "business insurance," rather than "general liability business insurance for coffee shops;" or "mortgage," rather than "mortgage loans low credit borrowers Santa Fe," you are missing out on terms that could bring qualified leads right to you.
How to Find Long Tail Keywords
Want some ideas on finding long tail keywords to include in your content? Let Google be your guide. Search for your keyword in Google search, and then scroll down to the bottom of the SERPs. You will find suggestions for "Searches related to" your search term. You can also see what Google is offering as Autocomplete Results as you type your keyword into the search bar itself.
The suggestions that Google offers come from what real people actually search. Popularity is the biggest factor used for suggestions and autocomplete, followed by local results.
Long tail keywords may not, on the surface, seem to be as valuable as your focus keywords. But they can be the secret to getting more qualified leads and are much easier to rank for.
#7: Throwing Away Title and Header Opportunities
How much time do you spend on the titles and headers when creating content? Your title and headers do more than just tell your audience and search engines what they will get on your page.
A good title can be the key to grabbing your audience's attention. It's what sells your content. A great title is the equivalent of walking past a store with a window display so alluring that you can't help but go inside to check out the goods. If you aren't getting traffic to your site, you may not be giving the right attention to your own "window displays."
4 Tips for Writing Great Titles
- Set clear expectations. Don't allude that you will provide something to a reader unless you plan on delivering it.
- Write for your persona. If you are targeting a fun, hip, young audience, attract your audience with titles that are just as fun. If you are writing for a more professional demographic, however, you may want to leave the Buzzfeed titles on the chopping block.
- Leverage the power of emotion. Fear. Hate. Sadness. Happiness. Which emotion does your content address? A title that evokes happiness may inspire a reader to share. A fear based title may inspire bond branding. Don't shy away from compelling emotions.
- Shorter is better. Keep your titles succinct.
The first purpose of your title is to draw in visitors to your site, but there's also an SEO play to carefully considering these page elements. Properly optimized titles and headers can have more keyword weight with search engines than keywords used in the body of your content. Keyword placement matters more than quantity, and using your keyword once in the title tag and once in the header is more important than repeating your keyword multiple times throughout the body content.
Spend time carefully considering the titles and headers you use in your content. They are more important than you may think, and one of the leading ways you can drive more traffic to your site.
#8: Clinging to the Old (Link) Ways
If you want more traffic, you need higher rankings. If you want to rank higher, link building is still the answer. But the way that you try to earn your links has changed, and if you're still clinging to the old ways of link building, or looking for ways to "trick" the search engines, you simply won't win.
Your new inbound link building strategy is less about "building" backlinks, and more about earning links from relevant sources. The best way to earn links is to produce great content that is relevant to your audience and those in your industry, and to promote your content to the right people.
Out with the Old: Avoid These Link Building Practices
- Excessive guest blogging
- Link trading
- Link buying
- Participating in link networks
- Off topic links from unrelated to your industry
- Gaining too many links in a short time frame
In with the New: Use These Link Earning Practices
- Create content that is useful and relevant.
- Grow links organically by continually creating great content.
- Guest blog carefully and strategically.
- Give links to industry experts you find relevant and useful.
- Promote your content.
#9: Waiting Around for a Reindex
If your site has been around for a while, you may be experiencing a drop in rankings caused by previous SEO tactics that are no longer effective, or even detrimental. Whether it's duplicate content, keyword density that's too high, or questionable backlinks from irrelevant sources, fixing it is the first step to regaining your footing. But a fixed site won't do you any good until the Google Bots crawl it. But how long will that take?
There's no definitive answer for how long it will take for the bots to reindex your site. You could end up waiting for days, weeks, or even longer for the bots to crawl and make note of your changes.
Instead of waiting around for a reindex, you can submit your site for reindexing in Google. When you submit for a reindex, your changes could be recognized in a flash -- even as fast as a few minutes.
How to Submit Your Site for a Reindex
- Log in to your Webmaster Tools account.
- Under The Crawl category, select "Fetch as Google".
- Put the page URL into the box and click Fetch.
Don't wait for Google bots to come to you, send your site to Google. You can submit for a reindex using Google Webmaster Tools.
Whenever you've made major changes to your site, fixed errors, disavowed bad backlinks, or created lots of new content, you can submit for a reindex to bring the bots crawling to you.
If you regularly add and update new content to your website, Google's crawlers will realize that your site is active and will crawl you more regularly. But until then, submitting for a reindex may be just the thing you need to surge up through the search rankings.
#10: Not Promoting Your Content
Creating great content is only half the battle. You could create the most amazing infographic, write the world's greatest guide, or craft a blog post that your entire industry would find useful; if you don't promote it, no one will find it. After all, the internet is a big, big place. There are over 2 million blog posts published each day, so how will yours get noticed?
How can you let the world know about the latest guide, blog post, ebook, or infographic you've created?
Here are 5 content promotion strategies to get started:
- Email it to your list.
- Share on your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+).
- Paid promotion (Promoted Tweets, highly targeted Facebook ads, retargeting with Adroll or Google Retargeting).
- Paid search (direct advertising with Google Adwords).
- Promote your content to influencers.
Influencer Marketing: Getting Noticed by the Big Guys
Are you more likely to trust an advertising message from a brand, or a word of mouth recommendation from a friend? If you are like most people, a third-party recommendation holds much more weight than a brand message. Which is why you need influential people to help you promote your content.
Influencers are the people who already have a following on their blog, social accounts, and email lists. They are trusted industry experts. When influencers share something, their followers pay attention -- and those followers engage.
When you promote your content to relevant industry influencers, you get the opportunity to have your content shared with an existing audience, and that could bring fresh eyes and new visitors to your site.
- Identify industry influencers. Who would want to share your content with their audience?
- Introduce your content. Reach out via email or direct message on social and let them know what you're working on.
- Ask for their expertise. Is your influencer willing to provide a quote, or to review your content and provide an opinion?
- Ask for the share. If your influencer likes your content or has provided a quote, provide the link and ask if their audience would find it useful. In other words, ask for the share.
When you have a really great piece of content that is relevant to your influencer's audience, and you ask them to share their expertise, you are likely to receive a warm response when you reach out to them.
"Bottom line: Publishing content that appeals to your target customer isn't enough. You need content that your influencers want to share with their audience." - Brian Dean, SEO Expert
If you are committing any of these top 10 traffic stoppers, don't worry. You can turn the ship around. It's not too late to start focusing on relevant keywords, SEO best practices, and creating great content that your audience is craving. And once you've promoted that content the right way, the traffic is sure to follow.
Guest blog by GROW.