“What is Google Doing to My Organic Website Traffic?”
Organic website traffic sounds like a sweet deal. “Free traffic from Google? Yes, please.”
The reality is much more complicated. One glance at the number of websites that appear on a search engine results page (SERPs) can remind you that millions of brands and businesses are all targeting the same keywords or topics.
As the world rushed to get online last Spring, more businesses realized search engine optimization takes some time to become effective. Even websites that enjoyed the same first page position for years may have seen a shakeup in rankings.
Here’s a brief explanation of what you can expect going forward:
Don’t Blame Your Website (Maybe)
A new website can help your business be seen by more people, but to claim that first position on Google, you need patience. If you’ve recently seen a change in organic website traffic because of recent Core Algorithm Updates, a sudden influx of people, or a sharp decline, there’s (likely) nothing wrong with your website.
More often, Google simply finds another website that does a better job at solving the visitor’s problem or offers a better user experience. Changing online customer behavior, increased privacy concerns, digital marketing industry trends, and more are changing the landscape of digital marketing. The real mission has never changed: make your website more relevant, valuable, and effective––for your customers and your business. Look at your Google Analytics and ask yourself these questions:
- How relevant is my website content to customers and the larger industry?
- Does my website provide value to search users (with features, tools, or content)?
- How well is your website working at a high level––based on the actual data?
Expect Your Rankings to Rise and Fall
Some keywords are moving targets. More competition online means more volatility for your rankings, especially if you’re after high-volume keywords. That high volume means others are looking at them too. It’s better to focus on the users behind your keywords.
User intent is often more important to your organic website traffic or search rankings than individual keywords. If you can understand why your customers are using those keywords, you can match your content to their needs––rather than your own traffic needs.
- Diversify your organic traffic by optimizing for Bing and DuckDuckGo.
- Balance organic search traffic with other channels like PPC and social media.
- Review the keywords actually generating traffic to match content to search intent.
Keywords Are Dead –– The Future is Longtail
The big shiny keywords with thousands, or tens of thousands, of monthly searches could boost your organic traffic overnight––if you could rank for them. Unfortunately, those high volumes also catch the attention of your competitors, and many sites after search traffic, regardless of relevancy or intent.
It’s much more effective and attainable to target smaller, more specific keywords than giant keywords you’ll end up chasing forever. These less competitive, niche keywords are not only easier to rank for, but they’re also more relevant to your customers. When performing keyword research, think about what terms your customers use to find your business. They’re not typing in one word, but a string of keywords, or a full phrase.
- Include different volumes in your keyword research, from broad to longtail.
- Check your new targets in Google Search Console –– were there any clicks or impressions in the last 12 months?
- Test your new keywords, but be flexible and make adjustments if you don’t see any traction.
Focus On Your Owned Digital Experience
The fact is, Google is a business and they’re only going to do what’s best for their own customers. As a search engine, their goal is to create their own digital experience, one that users can trust to find the right answer online.
You can use their digital strategy on your own website. Take care of your customers by giving them the experience that leads to stronger relationships. If you take care of your customers, Google will take care of you.