Fight Back Against Rank Creep/Slow Traffic Online

If your site is experiencing a slow decline in traffic, you may be quick to blame your content and links, but Google’s John Mueller says the reasons are probably far more nuanced. Better understanding the backstory can help you break out of this downward trend and keep your site moving forward. In the Webmaster Hangout, Mueller answers specific questions about traffic declines, and his answers are illuminating.

What’s Happening to My Numbers?

If your site has sprung a slow leak, you want to know what’s going on, and if it’s not your content and links, what the heck is it? Mueller explains that steady declines in rank over an extended period of time typically reference organic ranking shifts in the online ecosystem, including an evolving algorithm. Such declines probably aren’t indicative of a specific problem with your content but are more likely to suggest that potential users have changed their search tactics or are expecting their results to go in a different direction content-wise.

Carefully considering what searchers are actually looking for can help you gain a clearer perspective of what may be going on with your numbers. Think about what you find most frustrating when you do your own online searches and let that help guide you.

Let’s Do the Math

Mueller’s musings on the impetus behind slowly declining numbers provide us with four distinct possibilities to consider, including:

  • The organic ecosystem is evolving
  • The algorithm is evolving
  • Users’ search styles are evolving
  • Users’ expectations related to content are evolving

Ultimately, Mueller posits that the gradual decline you may be experiencing is probably not the result of a dramatic flaw in your website but is much more likely caused by a combination of the factors above.

It’s a Jungle out There

While Mueller doesn’t go into detail about what it is that he means by changes in the ecosystem, it’s pretty clear that he’s talking about the bigger picture and not about the specifics of your content or links. It boils down to the fact that you don’t simply obtain a rank and keep it. Your rank is constantly responding to the online zeitgeist – in one direction or the other.

Specific causes of a decline in your site’s rankings can include site problems such as link rot, which refers to the natural and ongoing disappearance of links within your content. Over time, web pages expand, go dark, or otherwise morph, and as they do, links disappear. Your site and links aren’t the only things that don’t remain static – your competition is also on the move. If your closest competitors’ rankings are inching forward, someone else’s (possibly yours) are – by definition – slipping down.

Algorithm Revolution

Google wants to know what’s on its users’ minds, and every major update over the past several years has focused on exactly this. As Google strengthens its handle on what searchers are actually looking for and on whether they’re finding what they’re after, it continues to finetune its all-important algorithms. Your task is to keep up – by reflecting on your site as a whole and on its ongoing overall relevance to your target audience. What worked last year or even last month may need tweaking – as your audience becomes savvier, so too must you.

The Customer Remains King

Without interested consumers mining its depths, the internet would be nothing more than a vast wasteland of random information. People search the web for answers to their questions – whatever those questions might be – and Google bestows rewards (in the form of improved rankings) to those sites that provide these searchers with the answers they seek. Improving one’s rank is obviously the coin of the realm, and ensuring that your site focuses on and evolves with your potential customers’ evolving needs will help you continue to make rank.

Google’s algorithms are ruthlessly focused on connecting consumer intent with content that correlates. If your site is slowly dipping in rank, a disconnect in this arena is almost certainly the cause. As Google continues to tweak what it means to be relevant to the world of searches, you must continue to tweak your offerings.

Stay Agile, My Friends

While it’s only natural to become discouraged with your content and links if you’re experiencing a slow downturn in rank, it’s important to take a broader view – and to remain agile in your response. It comes down to the old adage that if your only tool is a hammer, you want to treat everything like a nail. The fact is, however, that you have far more tools in your arsenal, and a digital marketing specialist will help you not only access those tools but will also help you apply them to maximum effect.

Have You Considered This?

When you’re thinking about your Google rank, it’s all about the language frontier, and there are several considerations that it’s helpful to keep in mind, including:

  • If you’ve been online for a while now, your keywords may have lost their oomph. Ultimately, search language is becoming less formal and more natural, and you want your offerings to coincide.
  • As mentioned, links can become obsolete. Make checking the veracity of your links part of your regular maintenance.
  • Keep your site’s internal navigation clean. The landscape of online searching has changed considerably, and those on the hunt are interested in finding what they need within as few clicks as possible.

If you’re slowly losing traffic, it’s time to do some housekeeping and to explore some options for getting your groove back.

A Digital Marketing Specialist Can Help You Rank

You’ve worked hard to get your content where you want it, but now you’re experiencing a slow but steady decline in traffic. Don’t take this as a sign that you need to reinvent the wheel and scrap all your content and links in the process. Something far more subtle is likely at play, and the digital marketing mavens at The Web Guys are here to help you strategize your way back to the top. Google is on the move, and we’re here to help you keep up. To learn more, contact us at 317-805-4933 today.