Googled analytics on your phone

4 Reasons Your Website’s Organic Traffic is Dropping.

So, you’ve been keeping an eye on your organic traffic in Google Analytics or some other software, and your traffic or rankings have been dropping lately. If they’re dropping enough, you may feel like the world is ending. I get why you might be feeling that way. It’s perfectly natural for any business owner’s or marketing manager’s heart to drop along with sinking organic traffic. When your rankings for keywords you’ve worked hard to optimize and rank for are no longer producing fruitful traffic – that’s serious. But I assure you, if you take certain steps, you’ll be back on track in no time – and could even get better results than ever before.  

Here’s the deal: your rankings and traffic have dropped due to changes in something Google is doing. Surprise, surprise. And a lot has changed lately with what Google is doing.  But this is good news, because this means you can fix it – by adjusting what you’re doing to meet the focus of Google (and by proxy, your users). SO, let’s first find out WHY your traffic and rankings have dropped. Then, you can take action to correct those issues and get back on track.

Here are 5 major reasons your organic traffic or rankings are dropping.

1. Changes to Search Engine Algorithms

Google’s search algorithms are always changing. Algorithms are sets of signals to determine how trustworthy, reputable, relevant or authoritative a website is. When Algorithms change, it’s Google’s response to the way users search and travel web. The algorithm uses bots to crawl and read millions of web pages every day. When the method those bots use to crawl changes, the factors they look for as they crawl changes, and THAT changes what results they offer to searchers as results to all their questions.

But that doesn’t mean that things are out of your hands. The key thing you should focus on with the above paragraph is “…Google’s response to the way user search…”. Point is: Don’t make Google out to be some enemy of your rankings. They’re only attempting to do what you should be doing anyways: creating the best possible experience for users. If pages on your site have dipped in traffic and rankings, it may be worth refreshing the content and keyword targets to make sure that you’re emphasizing the sorts of things people are actually searching for. After all, things do shift over time.

2. Your Technical SEO isn’t tight

For years, the old adage for anything digital marketing has been: “Content is King”. And that is a fair assessment based upon analysis of the companies that are doing the best vs those that aren’t doing so well. But the truth is, many marketers and business owners can get caught up in producing content and overlook technical aspects of SEO. Depending on your website – whether it’s e-commerce, service, products, or content based – there are multiple factors that will contribute to keeping your technical SEO “tight”.

Here are a few technical SEO questions to ask about ANY website:

  • What pages is your robots.txt file blocking and allowing to be crawled by search engine bots?
  • As you update content or add pages, did any of your pages accidentally get left with a NoIndex/NoFollow tag on them?
  • Are there any pages on your site covering the same topics, targeting the same keywords, or with the same overall theme? This goes beyond duplicate content (which is also a big deal). But for instance, with e-commerce, this could be a ton of products in one product category (the bots can’t tell which page is primary). Make sure these pages are using canonical tags correctly to refer the page that you want Google to prioritize.
  • Is your website mobile responsive? This is a key ranking factor now since early in 2016. If it isn’t, it should be, like, yesterday.
  • Page Speed – are your pages loading too slow? Are your images being cached? Are your images optimized for web? You can check your site’s speed with this free tool from Google.

To help get you started, here is a Technical SEO Checklist from MOZ .

3. Manual and Algorithmic Penalties

Okay, so it’s not just a “dip” in traffic? It’s a “plummet”, you say? If your site has experienced a significant drop in organic traffic, you may have been hit by a manual or algorithmic penalty. A manual penalty is issued when your site has been flagged for not complying with Google’s Webmaster quality guidelines. If these issues go unresolved for an extended period of time, your rankings will drop as a result.  Nevertheless, these issues are easy to find if you have Webmaster Tools in the Manual Actions area as highlighted below.

 Click-on-Manual-Actions-in-Search-console

While penalties will be visible in your Google Search Console account – algorithmic penalties won’t. Algorithmic penalties are far more common and occur relatively naturally when Google has an update to their search algorithms.

It can be difficult to tell if you’ve been hit by an algorithmic penalty, because Google won’t tell you like they do with manual penalties. But things like toxic backlinks or duplicate, thin, and poorly written content can all be contributing factors.

Crawl tools such as Screaming Frog uncover any pages on your site with low word counts, and Ahrefs will identify any recently obtained external links that are spammy or irrelevant to your content.

4. Organic Click Through Rates

What do your organic click through rates look like? It’s been debated whether organic click through rates have a direct impact on search rankings, but even from a user experience standpoint, it’s important to address any pages on your site that may be ranking well but are not commanding clicks.  Bottom line: Google wants to deliver relevant information to a searcher. If you are ranking for a search but it’s not getting clicked on, Google will think it made a mistake and try to figure out why it’s not getting clicked on. To improve this – improve your meta descriptions and page titles by including compelling copy and calls to action.

Summary:

The only foolproof strategy to SEO is to treat it as a long-term investment. The more you put into the investment account – with quality content, technical SEO, and good user experience – the more your website and rankings “interest” will compound – thereby growing the value of your account. Then, IF something does happen with Google’s algorithms, or even if something drastic changes in your market, your rankings and traffic will be insulated from the tumultuous outside world.  

 

Of course, if you have questions about any of this stuff, or would like us to take a look at your site and make some recommendations, let us know.

new marketing trends in 2017

7 Marketing Trends to look out for in 2017

One of the fun (and sometimes the more frustrating) parts about the marketing industry is how quickly trends turn over. With the advancement of digital communication, there is always something to be learned about and adjusted with your marketing campaign. With the beginning of the new year, let’s take a look at some of the latest digital marketing trends 2017 will have to offer.

Interactive Content

While written content remains a vital part of a healthy marketing campaign, interactive content seems to be climbing the charts in popularity. Examples of interactive content can range from online quizzes, infographics with personalized results, or interactive maps as the user toggles the mouse. While some of these projects may sound a bit overwhelming to create, there are plenty of programs available now with drag and drop type functions for creation. Programs like Ceros or SnapApp can assist you and your marketing team in creating engaging content for your online visitors.  

Social Ambassadors

Using celebrities and professional athletes to endorse a product or service is nothing new in the marketing industry, however, with the rise of social media as a form of communication, many people are now utilizing social media as a platform to share in their expertise. Those that stand out from the rest in what would be considered expert-level knowledge will have a high number of followers of their social profiles and would be considered “influencers”. Because of the interest that these self-made social celebrities create online, some companies are now sending their related products to them to be reviewed or even create partnership with by making them social ambassadors for their products.

Take makeup artist Jaclyn Hill for example. She has grown quite a following of nearly 4 million followers on Instagram. Makeup and beauty companies now send her new products to review and promote online for her followers to see.

 

instagram social ambassador jaclyn hill promotes makeup brands

 

Live Stream Video

With the social media updates of Facebook Live and Instagram Live, live video streaming is now becoming increasingly popular as a means of promotion and the online community in general. Live product reviews and live broadcast of events will only become more prevalent this year.

Native Advertising

Let’s face it, people are wising up and clicking less and less on paid display advertisements online. There is even a term now called “banner blindness” that refers to the habitual reaction of the average online reader who avoids looking at any banner advertisement online. People (your target audience) now naturally avoids looking at your display ads. This is why the solution to this marketing tactic has been to disguise or dress the ad as actual content that the viewer is engaging with. Native advertising occurs when the ad resembles non-sponsored content that follows the same form and function of the user experience in which it is placed. Consider advertisements disguised as Instagram posts while the user scrolls through their Instagram feed.

Marketing Automation

Any company with a larger sized contact list of prospects and customers will want to consider investing in a marketing automation platform in 2017. Not only do marketing automation systems have excellent email marketing capabilities, but they have the ability to track contact’s behavior on your website and through the email correspondence. Track what pages have been viewed online and for how long, see what links were clicked from the email or advertisements, segment your contacts into lists for comparing data and streamlining communication. There are a lot of great marketing automation software options to consider like Hubspot, Salesforce’s Pardot, and Sharpspring. All platforms will have their different strengths and weaknesses, so be sure to do your research for what your team needs to find the best fit.

Sharpspring email automation

Email Automation by Sharpspring

Visitor ID through Sharpspring automation software

Lead and Visitor ID tracking by Sharpspring

 

Mission Marketing (B-Corp)

One particularly popular method of business that is increasing is mission or purpose driven marketing. This method taken on by B-corporations that partner with charities and nonprofits or are large enough to have their own charitable program creates a very positive brand for companies. More consumers are choosing B-corporations when making their buying decisions, knowing that their purchase will go towards a good cause. Two successful companies that hold this model are TOMS shoes and Warby Parker. Both using the buy a pair/supply a pair to someone in need model of business.

Social Media Purchasing

Although it’s is geared toward retail companies, social media purchasing has increased sales for e-commerce sites in 2016. Not only do social media sites hold excellent marketing capabilities for advertisement of retail, they now have the option to purchase the item from the social site it is featured on. With “buy” buttons on both Facebook and Pinterest, the ability for browsers to purchase an item they want right from the social display, fast-tracking the shopping experience.

You know what they say, “new year, marketing strategy”. Yeah?

 

new or refreshed small business website

6 Points to Consider When Updating Your Small Business Website

Nothing is easier to neglect than a website.

As business owners, we have a ton of obligations on our plates to deal with. There are employees, for one. While they’re an incredible asset, they can create a lot of work at times with training, managing, and facilitating day to day functions. Then you have accounting and other bookkeeping tasks, team building, inventory, customer service issues, planning and goal setting… all the actual “meat and potatoes” work. That “get stuff done” attitude got you where you are, and that’s a GOOD THING.

I’ve talked with a lot of business owners, and marketing typically tends to stay on their back burner. And that’s marketing in general, let alone, a website. “I don’t get any traffic from my website”, or “It’s good enough for now” tends to be the attitude, and look, I get it. It’s gotten you to where you are today, and that’s fine. But let me pose a question to you:

Would you be happy with your website if you had to look at it every day as you walk through the doors of your business?

See, you might not have to see it every day… but your potential customers do.

Like it or not, your website is the introduction to your business for a lot of customers. And if it is bad, a lot of visitors may have been customers. 91% of people are using search engines to find solutions to their problems. SO YOU BETTER MAKE A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION!

I want to challenge you and ask you to look at your website and ask yourself if it reflects who you truly are as a business. Is it engaging? Does it showcase your product or service offerings accurately? Can I find what I’m looking for if I have never been there before? Is there a clear call to action? Do I know what I’m supposed to be doing?

Secondly: Compare your website to a competitor’s. I know this is kind of “keeping up with the Jones’s” but the truth of the matter is, if this potential client has no previous exposure to you and your competition, they’re probably going to choose based off of the experience they get from your website. Think of your website as an introduction to your company and how you interact with your customers. For example: If your website is easy to work with, the perception then becomes that you as a business are easy to work with.

Third: who built your website? Did you hire an agency to do it? Or did your mom’s cousin’s nephew with the crazy eye make it with all the free time he has because he lives “off the grid”? If your answer is closer to the latter, you might have on-site issues that inhibit your future marketing endeavors, especially if you plan to start any advertising campaigns, or social media selling. Take our free web analysis by clicking the green bottom-right button on the screen to check it out.

Unfortunately, too many people think that an agency is just out to build them a flashy website that they don’t actually “need”.

While that can be the case, I look at it the same way you would consider hiring a receptionist. Who are you going to be more apt to hire – The warm, friendly, energetic, helpful person who is competent and able to help any customer that walks through your doors? Or the cheapest person you can find who “works for now”? Just asking questions here.

Your website CAN work for you, and CAN produce leads. Do yourself and your business a favor and hire someone who will do a few of the following things:

  1. Take time to understand you and your customer. I could spend all day here, but the reality is this; if the freelance designer or agency doesn’t take the time to do an exploration session with you to dig into your ‘WHY” (the reason you started your business) or understand your service offering, then it won’t appropriately represent your brand. If they don’t take the time to dig into the psychology of your customers, then they’re not going to you meet your customers where they are in their buyer’s journey. Your website will be disconnected and largely ineffective.
  2. Design for the user (UX). So, this kind of goes with the first point, but if you’re selling cross stitching…gear(?)…then don’t build a flashy site with a lot going on and small print. Know the type of people that buy from you, and speak their language. Let’s say that you’ve done your research for your cross stitching supply shop, and found that your most prominent customer segment is a 56 to 68-year-old woman who owns multiple cats, owns collectible china, watches Jeopardy reruns (if only for Trebec), and spends the majority of her time offline (this is completely off the cuff and hypothetical), then make the website for her. Use larger fonts, make your website simple and easy to use. Use some of those preferences you’ve discovered to your advantage when it comes to design. It may not be sexy to you, but your customers will get more out of it, and you’ll have better conversion rates.
  3. Consider Price. This happens often with my clients. They go in with the mentality that they’re website rebuild is going to cost them a fortune. We present the proposal to them and outline all the costs, and with a sigh of relief they say “well that’s not bad at all”. Honestly, a website doesn’t have to break the bank. Don’t overspend, but don’t underspend. Depending on your needs and the functionality you desire, the cost will vary. Find someone who will talk you through this and find your “sweet spot”.
  4. Be Clear. There is a saying we use here at SWELL that I’m recently kind of taken with: “No one will ever complain because you made something too easy to understand. Aim to be impossible to misunderstand.” It definitely pertains to many aspects of life, websites included. Don’t make your customers work to figure anything out. Display your mission and vision clearly, and make sure your personality comes out! Display your products or services simply, yet engagingly. Make sure there is a clear call to action. After all, you don’t want them just hanging out on your website all day. You want to motivate them to take the next step and buy from or engage with you.
  5. Provide Value. Provide your potential clients with something useful, and expect nothing in return. And keep doing it. Blogs, vlogs, downloadables, forums…there are tons of ways to provide your customers with something that they want to keep coming back for, or that will even have an impact on how they make their buying decisions (yes, even if it isn’t with you!). If you do this, you will set yourself apart from the competition. Guaranteed.
  6. Optimize. Please optimize for search engines. This encompasses everything from copy to the call to action. Make sure you’re optimized (and continually optimizing). Otherwise, no one is going to find you. Consistently produce fresh, original content on your site. Tag your pictures’ and videos’ meta-descriptions accurately. Title all your pages appropriately, and make sure you don’t have any broken links or anchors. Know the keywords you want to be found for and use them in the copy of your site as often as you naturally can. Make sure everything on your site is relevant to your purpose. Make sure your website loads quickly and it’s optimized for all screen sizes (or is responsive).

Use these tips as a guide. It doesn’t stop here, but this will give you a good starting place to begin a dialogue on what you can do to put your best foot forward online.

Tell your story, and tell it boldly. Big box stores and corporate business will come in with price gouging and ad tactics online, but only you have your story and can connect with your customers in a meaningful way. That’s what they want, and that’s what will keep them.