So you've put a lot of effort into your SEO and online marketing campaigns, and you noticed that your traffic was down this month. What happened? Should you cut your SEO budget and channel that money into more conventional marketing efforts?
Before you start going crazy, you need to know that a one-month dip in visitors isn't all that unusual. “In my opinion, unless you've lost the majority of your traffic overnight there is no need to panic about one slow month,” notes Nick Stamoulis. “It could very well be just that; a slow month.”
SEO is a game of trends over time. Don't be too concerned over one month's figures. If your numbers are trending downward over three months, then you definitely have cause for concern and need to figure out what's going on.
If you really want to know what happened to throw your numbers off that one month, well, there are lots of possibilities. Some of them are even more likely than SEO to be the cause of your drop in visitors. Stamoulis lists three; all of them are pretty easy to check, though you might need some historical data.
First, how many people are searching for your keywords? If the volume of searchers using the words for which you've optimized your site is lower this month than it was previously, you're probably going to receive fewer visitors – but then again, so will your competitors if search volume is really down across the board for that keyword. Google offers a free tool called Google Insights for Search that will let you compare search volume for keywords over time, and could help you pinpoint the reason your traffic is down.
Second, where is your traffic coming from? Stamoulis differentiates between organic and direct traffic. Organic traffic is traffic that uses non-branded keywords to find your site. Perhaps you run a lawn care business in Clermont, Florida, and many of your visitors found you when searching for something like “landscape designers Clermont.” Direct traffic, on the other hand, occurs when someone puts your company's name or brand directly into the search engine to find you. If 30 percent of your traffic came from direct searches, and it dropped off by only one-fifth, that could cause a noticeable reduction in your number of visitors.
If that's the case, you need to look to your other advertising efforts. Direct traffic, remember, is brand-based traffic. Did your company do a big marketing push last month to get the name out there? That might explain the drop, then, if you didn't continue the advertising into this month. In that case, your SEO efforts aren't to blame for the drop in traffic at all.
Third, is this a time of year when your business normally falls off? Every field seems to have seasons. Remember that lawn care service mentioned above? It's a sure bet that they get more visitors to their website in April than in November. Rather than checking your visitor numbers for this month against the numbers for last month, check them against the numbers for the same month last year. You might find you're actually doing better than you were then.
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