Losing organic search traffic to your website can mean a significant decrease in your business’s sales. Even worse, it’s a problem that’s difficult to pinpoint.
It could be a drop in your SEO rankings that might have occurred for any number of reasons. It might also be related to a recent website redesign.
The first step to recovering your lost organic search traffic is finding the root of the cause.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to first identify your issue and then the best methods to take in order to solve it.
Has Organic Search Traffic Dropped
Before you do anything else, you should double check that the search traffic to your site has indeed decreased in a significant, sustained way.
Often a site will suffer periodic drops in organic traffic that may just be circumstantial.
Make sure to compare the organic traffic of your site week-over-week before and after your search traffic appeared to have dropped.
Research whether or not this drop is more or less significant than most week-over-week shifts in traffic.
Next, uses Google’s Search Console to see if they are registering a similar drop in your traffic or your SEO rankings. You can use their Search Analytics to research impressions and clicks for any given keywords.
Select the keywords you deem most important to your site’s SEO success and compare how they are doing in relation to other weeks. Keep an eye on the clicks that these keywords register over the next few days before you jump to any conclusions.
If the overall impressions and clicks that these keywords garner remains consistent to what you were seeing before the traffic drop, you might be in the clear. Many times this means that your dip in traffic is a natural fluctuation.
How often your keywords are being seen and clicked on through a search engine like Google is what’s most important in this scenario.
However, if those clicks are also suffering, you may have gone done in the search engine’s rankings.
The next step is to figure out why.
Search Engine Algorithm Change
Search engines like Google will make subtle shifts to their algorithms, and usually, will do so without any warning.
Sometimes these algorithm shifts will punish something your site is doing. Unfortunately, search engines like Google will sometimes make finding out how these shifts will directly affect your site’s practices difficult.
You can check different SEO blogs to find out how some of the major algorithm checks will affect your site’s organic search traffic.
Fortunately, most algorithm shifts shouldn’t adversely affect your traffic to such a sudden and significant extent.
Just make sure to occasionally check the news surrounding a change in Google’s algorithm to see how it will affect your site.
Check Your Links
Link building is one of the most important techniques you can use to improve your site’s SEO rankings and increase your organic search traffic.
Essentially, these links are what connects your website to others around the web. Search engines like Google will reward websites with a number of these links that connect back to your site. They add to your site’s legitimacy in the search engine’s eyes.
Conversely, a lack of backlinks on your site will negatively affect your rankings.
One of the main reasons your ranking might have taken a hit is if a significant number of your links and backlinks have dropped.
If you find out that this is your issue, you need to work on getting your links back up and running. If you have a relationship with the other sites that ended up dropping the links to your site, it would be a good idea to reach out to find out why.
Even if you don’t feel comfortable reaching out for whatever reason, you should still take the time to investigate. If your links were replaced with another source, look into that source and see what they are doing that your site is missing, then update accordingly.
Your final step should be looking into ways to acquire new links. Try and avoid whatever mistakes or gaps in your site that ended up costing you your original links in the first place.
Then invest in ways to get more backlinks for your site to recover your organic search traffic.
Investigate Your Competitors
You may have also lost your rank because a competitor’s website has improved their ranking. This could mean that they have changed something about their site or have invested more heavily in tactics that would improve their SEO.
An easy way to check the kind of changes a competitor has made to their website is using the Wayback Machine. This is a free service that allows you to look back into the history of a website, through all its various updates.
Compare and contrast the newer model of your competitor’s website to their older version. Pay attention to the SEO-related aspects that have changed for them.
Have they gained more backlinks or altered their internal link layout? Are they using a number of different keywords that are lacking on your site?
Take this opportunity to learn about what is working for your competitors. See what methods they took to change their rankings and improve their organic search traffic.
If you’re starting to fall behind your competition for any of the reasons listed above, it might be time to invest in a third party that specializes in improving your SEO and recovering your organic search traffic.
Redesigning Your Site
The other major reason you might be losing organic search traffic is that your site has just gone under a major redesign.
This can occur when SEO is not always made a priority when undertaking what can be a large and complex task in redesigning a website.
This is why it’s wise to never rush the launch of a redesign. It’s important to pay attention to a few crucial SEO steps in order to maintain or have a chance to build on your site’s traffic.
If you’re still in the pre-launch phase of your redesign or well after launch, here are some tips for maintaining or recovering your organic search traffic.
Reexamine Your Internal Link Structure
During the redesign, you may have changed the way the site’s internal link equity flows on your site. This can significantly affect the way search engines rank your site.
Site navigation should be the first place you check. Is one of your links to another page on your site broken or not going where it should be? Have your internal links changed the pages they target in any significant way? Have your anchor texts links been altered or removed?
If you still have access to the older version of your site, check how many internal links are missing or have been misplaced.
Again, many times this issue originates in changes made to the navigation menu. You’d be surprised how much weight search engines give to the way websites are structured.
Don’t Take Down Your Site
There should be no time during your redesign where your site should be completely offline for any significant amount of time.
For one thing, a potential customer will not likely return soon to a site that does not work or load for them immediately.
Search engines will also register this extended period of downtime and penalize your website in the rankings for it.
Review Your Content
Content is another thing you should be keeping a close eye on throughout the redesign. Many times a redesign means creating an emphasis on minimizing your website for added aesthetic appeal.
However, this can affect the SEO created by your site’s content in a significant way. If meta descriptions are excluded, titles change, or some major keywords lose priority, your site’s rankings can be lowered and your organic search traffic will suffer.
Instead, make sure your content is being updated to be more in line with current SEO practices. Use your redesign opportunity not just as a way to change the look of your website but to update and add to its content as well.
Keep Your Old Web Address
Your web address, or URL structure, should remain that same after your redesign. Changing it will cause you to lose every backlink you had previously established with the old URL.
However, sometimes changing your URL can be justified. If you are using a different website platform you may be forced to change your web address.
Also, if your business is rebranding or shifting industries you might have to change your site’s URL to accommodate. In this scenario, it might be good to start fresh because the content and purpose of your old website might not fit within the rebrand.
Your site’s existing web address might also just need a change to better optimize it for SEO. However, even if this is the case, you don’t want to lose any of the backlinks you worked hard to get.
You can avoid this with a 301 URL redirect mapping strategy.
Creating A 301 URL Redirect Mapping Strategy
This should be used for any of your URLs which might have been rewritten in the redesign process. 301 permanent redirects will take people clicking on the old URLs to the correct page with the new web address.
Using a few simple lines of code, you should be able to implement 301 permanent redirects for any of the old web addresses used for your old site.
Make sure to avoid using 302 temporary redirects. As their name suggests, these redirects are only meant to be used for a short amount of time. If you’re sticking with the new URL, you need a permanent way to get people to the correct page.
Also be sure to not delete any page outright. If anything, you should aim to revamp the content of the page to fit your redesign instead of getting rid of it.
Deleting a page will have dead links attached to your site and search engines do not like to see that. If you want nothing to do with the page anymore, it would be a better idea to give it a 301 permanent redirect to another page on your site.
After examining everything we have discussed you should be able to pinpoint where some of the issues your site was having in recovering its organic search traffic.
Your final steps should involve making sure that all the internal links on your site are going to their correct URL destination. Make sure that there are no old URLs left anywhere on the site and that they are assigned 301 permanent redirects to accommodate for the old backlinks.
Now submit your website to be reexamined again with Google’s Search Console. Monitor how your website does in the rankings over the next few weeks. You should begin to see a return of your old organic search traffic.
Growing Your Organic Search Traffic
After going through the laborious process of recovering your hard earned organic search traffic, you should realize how important this aspect of your website really is.
The end goal should not be to recover it to the same number it was at before but to grow it. As we said at the beginning of this article, an increase in traffic correlates to an increase in sales.
If you’re serious about not just maintaining your organic search traffic, but fully taking advantage of your site’s SEO potential contact us today!