Accessibility

4 Reasons Why Organic Traffic Can Stay the Same – Even When Rankings Go Up [Summary of Search]

The amount of organic traffic coming to a website is an important measurement of SEO success, but several factors can mean fluctuations – or even decreases – while rankings are stable.

  1. Four Ads at the Top

In the last year, Google has removed text ads from the side of their search engine results pages (SERPs) and placed up to four at the top. For many competitive queries, this means less visibility. In many cases, the #1 organic position is now below the fold! That dramatic shift in position means fewer clicks. According to a 2014 study, these are the percentage of clicks a listing can expect in each of Google’s top 5 positions:

1 – 29%

2 – 15%

3 – 11%

4 – 7%

5 – 5%

 

The dynamics change considerably when more ads push a number 2 position down to where it might receive 7% or 5% of the clicks! For many competitive keywords we are tracking, this is the most dramatic shift we’ve seen for organic traffic. It is also possible to “cannibalize” your organic traffic with PPC where your site was already at the top. So be careful out there, and check your most important SERPs.

 

  1. Search Volume has Decreased

Another reason organic traffic can decrease is due to trends or seasonal fluctuations. Many businesses do have seasons, and Year-over-Year traffic is the better measurement. And don’t forget to check https://trends.google.com/ for trends in the queries your visitors might be using.

 

  1. Organic Traffic Counted as Direct Traffic

There are a few ways that organic traffic can show up as direct traffic. If it’s a mystery as to why organic traffic is decreasing, check direct traffic in Google Analytics. Where direct traffic is soaring, Google Analytics may not be seeing the true source (aka referrer) of the traffic. There may be a couple of reasons:

 

– Redirects

We’ve seen many strange redirects over the years, enough that this is worth mentioning. Referrer information can be removed when redirects are done via programming languages, or even in a chain of redirects that cross to HTTPS and back.

 

– Certain browsers block information

There have been periods in which Safari blocked referrer information. On sites with heavy IOS traffic, the effect is easier to spot. But for many sites, this can be a difficult blip to locate.

 

  1. Decreased Number of Pages or Products

For eCommerce sites that have dropped product lines for business reasons, eventually, a loss of organic traffic for those keywords will be seen. Pages that are redirecting or missing will eventually drop from Google’s index – and organic traffic can suffer. However, if you are trimming low-quality pages, that is certainly worth the short-term decrease in your traffic! Quality is still king, and Google can see if a page is being visited, shared or linked to. So don’t stop pruning your site.
These four situations explain the cases we’ve found where rankings might stay the same (or even improve) with no commensurate increase in organic traffic numbers. Be sure to check this list next time you find yourself wondering,”Where did all of the Organic traffic go?”

Speed is Everything [Summary of Search]

Page loading speed has great importance with Google these days. From mobile visitors to Googlebots, every visitor will appreciate a speedy experience. Here are some ideas to keep in mind:

1. Rise of mobile

The importance of mobile can be seen in Google’s announcements the last few years. Mobile users are more impatient than ever, and Google provided stats last week regarding just how impatient mobile users are:

– The average mobile page takes 22 seconds to load, but 53% of users leave after 3 seconds!

– Even mobile landing pages in AdWords were found to take 10 seconds loading time.

There are many easy changes available for sites to make, as the answer isn’t always in purchasing a faster web server. Google’s own analysis found that simply compressing images and text can be a “game changer”—30% of pages could save more than 250KB that way.

2. Ranking factor

A few years back, Google made page speed a small ranking factor – or at least they were finally explicit about it being a ranking factor. Since page speed issues aren’t given the exposure of crawl errors and other items in Google Search Console, it can be easy to put them on the “long list” of items to fix. Its addition as a ranking factor is a great signal that this needs to be prioritized.

3. Bounce rate

Nice try, loading up your site with images that take forever to load. Unfortunately, that doesn’t increase the duration of site visits. It just makes people angry. According to Google’s analysis, every second of loading time, from 1 to 7 seconds, increases the chance of a bounce by 113%! Many SEOs believe that “engagement metrics” such as bounce rate could also be a ranking factor. And it makes sense: When Google sees a rise in organic bounce rate, they know human visitors are judging the content. How could Google not take this data into account?

4. Crawl rate

In one recent test, increasing page speed across a site dramatically increased the site’s crawl budget. Slower sites can be overwhelmed by crawl activity. But if you ever feel the need to put a crawl delay in your robots.txt, take that as a warning sign. After all, even reasonably fast sites can often need more crawl budget.

Tools and Fixes

Luckily there are remedies. Some can be quite easy, such as adding compression to your web server. Others might require a trip to Photoshop for your site’s images. However, some items will not be worth fixing. Try to concentrate on the easiest tasks first. Run an analysis of your site through these two tools and see what you need to fix:

Google’s newest tool:

Test how mobile-friendly your site is.

GTmetrix.com features include a “waterfall” showing which page items load at which stage, history, monitoring, and more.

Good luck and enjoy optimizing the speed of your site!

Conversion is King [Summary of Search]

Content is helpful, but conversion is everything. The point of content – and usability in general – is to meet business objectives.

Any business objective can be a conversion of sorts: bookmarking, social sharing/liking, video views, time on site, lead generation, add to cart, and hopefully even completing the sale! By measuring each step, brands can understand where their site can improve it’s usability and contribute more to the bottom line.

1. It can be easier to increase conversion than to increase traffic
Increasing conversion also increases revenue, and can be easier than increasing traffic – up to a point.

2. Even mobile apps can easily conduct conversion optimization tests
Mobile testing platforms now allow conversion and usability testing without rolling out new versions of your app. Solutions exist from Optimizely ,Visual Website Optimizer (VWO), Liquid, and Artisan Optimize Mobile App.

3. You should test EVERYTHING
User Experience professionals agree: Take their advice, but “always keep testing”. Conversion case studies show all sorts of factors can influence conversion:

  • Logos and headers
  • Design style of the the site
  • Product page designs
  • Product descriptions and overall copy writing
  • The text of your call to action buttons
  • Images
  • Use of video (usually boosts conversion, but not always!)
  • Purchasing path through the site

4. Website redesigns should use, not reset your data
Now if the site is just awful, start with a redesign. But a website redesign that starts over can sometimes be a horrible waste: Another shot in the dark, with hope and prayer. Consider instead a redesign process based on evolving the website with small changes, continually tested for improvement. But definitely start from having your website in a “good place”!

Not sure of next steps for your site? Time to start testing – or maybe a redesign from that “good place”. Need a good interactive agency or website design firm? We’ve worked with agencies and designers. And we partner with the best! Talk to us about your needs, and we’ll introduce you to the right match.

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See you at SearchCon 2015!
Are you interested in learning about the latest in search from the experts? Join us at SearchCon 2015 – The Digital Marketing and SEO Conference! SearchCon is April 9th and 10th and will be held at Beaver Run Resort in beautiful Breckenridge, Colorado. Register before March 2nd and take advantage of early bird pricing! http://searchcon.events/