The conference call came to life with a familiar ding! And after the quickest of introductions our prospective client jumped to the heart of the matter, with concern in his voice.
“We haven’t changed anything and our Web traffic is bleeding off… rapidly.”
Get Your Web Traffic Back
In this particular case, not unlike a handful of other recent calls, the team we were consulting with is responsible for a technology blog. The urgency in the callers voice was not a simple loss of pride in their Web traffic numbers, but a real loss in potential revenue.
You see this particular website was not simply a brand building, humanizing blog. This blog has historically been the top of their sales funnel–a real lead generation platform–for multiple business units.
They needed their traffic back, and fast!
In this case, the diagnosis was a lack of editorial strategy–lots of relevant content with little or no intentional construction. The result was lots of long tail search traffic, but their haphazard content creation has done little to secure any core keyword market share. And, probably in Google’s estimation, doesn’t provide a quality user experience or the necessary depth of content.
How, then, do you fix this problem?
It starts with a well planned content marketing strategy, but if you are losing traffic or took a big hit from a Google algorithm update, you’re going to need quick fixes as well as long-term forward planning and processes.
If you’re thinking: “Bill, this is already hurting my head. Can’t I just call you and pick your brain for 30 min?” Yes, you can! Schedule a Pick My Brain session and we’ll talk about your specific problem.
Short-term Web Traffic Recovery
In the short-term, the quickest way to recover Web traffic is to pay for it. Yes, it costs money. If your website is producing revenue and that lost revenue is the primary concern, then paid media should be a no-brainer. (In fact, you probably should have been doing some already.)
I recommend an integrated paid media plan that looks a little like this:
- Paid placement in search engines
- Paid content syndication
- Paid social media promotions
Depending on your business objectives and content production capabilities, how you mix these can vary greatly. I’ve ordered them top-to-bottom by what I have experienced as having the highest buying intent and subsequent lead conversion rate.
That’s the basic short-term content marketing framework. Let’s put this program into action!
The first step is to inventory (in the short-term you don’t have time to produce more content–use what you have) your content and find your gems. Generally, these are going to be pieces of content that are already or should be providing value to your prospects and clients.
These content gems are typically articles, eBooks, presentations, or other content that is already getting a large share of your organic Web traffic or answers questions you get over and over from prospects and clients.
(Notice how I’m producing a piece of content–right now–that addresses the emerging question I’m getting from my target market and client base? Yeah, you should always be doing this.)
Once you have these key pieces of content identified, here are some tactics that can immediately get them more visibility and some thought seeds for how to use different types of content:
- For blog posts or website articles: dress them up a bit with compelling images and ensure they have calls to action in the articles. Then pay to syndicate it out through a platform like Outbrain or Taboola.
- For eBooks and presentations: your best strategy is a combination of landing pages and Facebook or Google ads. These venues are very responsive to free content offers and done correctly can send you reasonably inexpensive, highly targeted Web traffic.
I’ll reiterate: short-term traffic recovery should involve a quickly organized but well executed paid media plan.
Whether it is a core element of your digital marketing program or not, you should be learning and perfecting a paid media plan that you can pull out if (really win) your traffic tanks because of external forces of digital nature.
Long-term Web Traffic Recovery
Moving on to the permanent solution requires a more strategic approach.
Construct your long-term traffic recovery plan with consideration to not only the source of the Web traffic loss, but also what can defend your traffic against future dips.
Google is intensely focused on the quality of the search results they return, and quality is largely determined by two critical factors:
- Relevance of the search results that are returned to a search user
- Quality/uniqueness of content that is behind that search engine result
These objectives have been clearly represented in Google’s most recent algorithm updates and data refreshes.
Matt Cutts reminds us that the goals of Google are pretty consistent–making it pretty easy to create strategies that will perform regardless of Google search updates. This video also gives you a little insight into the road ahead:
Google’s search quality objectives become our starting point. Long-term traffic building should address these fundamentals to gain favor from their search engine.
This begins with keyword research and ends with a carefully crafted editorial plan. My long-term Web traffic recovery plans often look something like this:
- Keyword Research – It’s the easiest and most overlooked tactic for recovering lost or simply getting more Web traffic. I recommend a slightly different approach than the average advice on keyword research. Don’t look for words to stuff into page titles and copy. Instead, literally study and learn the language of your online customer. I guarantee you discover that your customers are searching with words that are much different from the words you are accustomed to using to sell your product or service. Get into Google’s Keyword tool or other favorite keyword research tool and start looking at the types of searches people are actually doing in your market.
- Increasingly Complex Content – The once-ubiquitous 400-500 word blog article is no longer cutting it for Google. You’re going to have to start creating content that is worthy of publication in the most reputable of publications, meaning your content must have shades of true journalism, integrated custom design elements, or interactive data and content that makes it wholly unique.
- Email List Acquisition – This isn’t entirely consistent with the theme of recovering lost Web traffic, but it is. Wise counsel once said, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” This simple mantra dictates that we don’t sit around waiting for Google to catch us on the chin again. Instead we build Web traffic engines that are independent of Google, the most significant of which should be an in-house email list. If you’re not already actively capturing email subscriptions on your website–drop everything and do it today!
- Disciplined Editorial Calendar – And for the last critical element, I recommend developing a highly intentional editorial calendar. Your calendar should carefully plan and drive the production of high quality content with sufficient density and user value, making it impossible for Google to miss or ding your search engine rankings.
TL;DR (what does that mean?)
Is your head swimming yet? It might be. After all, you’re in a panic because your traffic is tanking and there is a lot of information here. No fear, here is the neat, tidy, Cliff Notes version:
- Identify valuable content you already have
- Buy traffic into those valuable content assets
- Short-term traffic problem solved
- Learn the language of your customer (keyword research)
- Up your content game–more quality, more sophisticated
- Start getting those Web visitors on your email list
- Build a long-term editorial plan
Still a little nervous about getting your Web traffic back on your own?
Okay, I’ll give you two additional options: