Picture this… It’s an unusually warm Monday morning in mid-December. Coffee in one hand, you fire up your laptop and head straight for Google Chrome to check your content analytics dashboard. With the flurry of blog posts your team released last month, you’re excitedly expecting a huge rush of organic traffic.
But upon a focused review of your traffic report, your expectant smile turns to a silent scream. Your organic search actually dropped – by a lot.
What do you do when you find your organic traffic down? Hint: Panic isn’t one of your choices, even if you have a meeting with the company CEO this afternoon.
Start at the Source
First, go to the source – Google. If you’re like most content marketing leaders, you have a love-hate relationship with the tech giant.
But like it or not, Google dominates search. So, when you’re playing in their sandbox, you have to play by their rules.
Fortunately, Google has some tools that can help you find some of the root causes of your sudden drop. Google Search Central is one of them.
- Look for technical SEO issues: You might have to collaborate with your technical SEO team to detect these issues, though. Whether it’s a faulty tracking code, slow page-loading speed, a robots.txt fetching error, or a lost noindex tag, these issues can do a number on your numbers. Since content collaboration in today’s silo-free world involves more than picking your subject matter experts’ brains on your latest gadget, it pays to work with your tech teams to track down non-content-related traffic problems.
- Security threats: Google identifies sites that have fallen victim to hacking or other security threats, warning users before sending them through to the site. No user wants to risk entering a non-secure site, so a security issue might have caused the drop in traffic.
- Changes in users’ search interests: Trends are fickle, as are users. Keep an eye out for trending topics and be agile enough to revamp your copy to meet these shifting demands. But, at the same time, give the bulk of your content lasting power by meeting those audience needs that rarely change.
Sometimes, It’s the Little Things
You’ve probably learned the old poem, “For Want of a Nail,” back in elementary school. It teaches children that even the tiniest detail can undo major undertakings.
How about your blog titles? Do you do as much research on them as you do the body of your post? Do you test them?
Titles are the first thing people see when they search for information. A catchy, informative title can increase your traffic by as much as 500%.
That’s a lot of traffic to leave on the table. Don’t be the soldier that neglected to check the nails in his horse’s shoe. Get the small things right, and the rest will follow.
Check for Link Drop-Offs
Backlinks to your site are a critical ingredient in your site’s search ranking. The higher your search ranking, the more likely people will click through to your site.
Use a tool like Ahrefs to check to see if your site or webpage has lost backlinks. Then, look at the content on that page. Chances are, an update is in order.
Whether you have outdated information or need to take a deeper dive into your content’s topic, put your best content sleuths to work to find the likely reason your content lost backlinks. Then, task them to revamp the content to meet your target audience’s needs.
Be sure to post the revamped content on your social media channels so that your followers can share it with their colleagues and friends. Include it in your next email to any segments that might benefit from the information in the post.
Check for Any Google Algorithm Changes You Might Have Missed
Larger content marketing teams often get so busy creating and testing content that they miss notifications about Google algorithm updates from sites like Search Engine Land or WordStream.
Do a quick check to see if you’ve missed any updates. If so, conduct a content audit to identify any content in your repository and tweak it to conform to the new guidelines.
Look at Your Organic Bounce Rate
As Luca Tagliaferro points out, your webpage’s organic bounce rate – its dwell time – is an excellent indicator of why your page might have dropped in its ranking. The organic bounce rate is a better gauge of how engaging your content is.
Dwell time measures the time elapsed between when a user clicks on the link to your page in the search results and when they return to the search results. It’s an excellent indicator of two things:
- Whether your content grabs your audience’s attention and holds it until the end
- If your content provided information relevant to their search
It’s no wonder that many SEO experts have shown that Google uses dwell time to rank sites. Since your content needs to contain information that your audience needs to know and hook them into reading (or watching) it until the end, it’s a metric worth watching.
It’s also a factor you need to consider in your overall content strategy. Paying attention to your audience’s comments and questions on social media and your blog posts can help. So does updating your buyer personas to include new interests and pain points.
In addition to making your content more relevant to your audience’s queries, you also need to add some emotional color to your content. Taking your audience on a hero’s journey on which they start with a challenge and conquer it with your advice helps hook them into your content and leave them wanting more.
And, don’t forget that no matter how mundane your industry is, your brand solves problems for your customers. Take advantage of the power of emotional engagement to keep them on the page until the end of the story.
Finally, Check Your Content’s Quality with a Content Audit
As content explodes across the digital universe, having top-quality content is a must to stay on top of organic searches. Conducting a thorough content audit at least once a year can help you keep your content fresh and relevant to your audience.
Identify and Prune Poor Performers
During your audit, you might identify some pieces of older content that by today’s standards are (horrors!) cringeworthy. Whether they’re keyword-stuffed blog posts from the late 2000s or insensitive language from the same era, you might decide they’re not worth the time and effort to revamp.
In that case, it’s best to remove them from your public-facing content. If you want to revisit the topics later, move them into your in-house content repository for future reference. Pruning your content, like pruning trees and other plants, brings more value to those who consume the fruits of your labor.
Revise or Repurpose Salvageable Content
Some of your poorer performers might only need a fresh coat of verbal paint. Changing dated language to reach today’s audiences and adding new insights can help build buzz around your older content.
Replacing older links with newer, more authoritative information can also increase interest in your content. Then, don’t forget to refresh your on-page SEO, including optimizing for natural language searches.
Another tactic to get new life out of older content is to change the format. Repurposing a tired old blog post as a video or a white paper as a podcast series can reach brand new audiences, drawing new sources of organic traffic to your revamped content.
Put It All Under a Single Roof
Keeping your organic traffic growing – even broadening into new markets – can be a complex task, especially if you’re using a patchwork of content creation and measurement tools.
With a content marketing platform where you can plan, schedule, create, store, and track your content’s performance, your teams will never have to waste time switching back and forth between platforms. They can spend their working hours doing what they do best – creating world-class content.
DivvyHQ is such a platform. With a wealth of integrations and functional capacities, you and your teams will have everything you need at your fingertips.
And, you can try it free for 14 days with no obligation. Start your company’s free trial today.