A website needs to be optimized for search engine ranking, but ultimately it’s primary job is to put useful information into the hands of online searchers. In order to get more web traffic, you must cater to human beings first and search engines second. Consider who you’re trying to communicate with and what the goal of that conversation is.
The following are 6 common actions of dead companies. Steer clear of the following actions and instead focus on their opposites! Below we’ll tell you how you’re driving your traffic away, but also how you can turn it all around and increase your web traffic!
6 Ways Small Businesses Lose Traffic
1. No New Content
The Issue: If your website sits idle online with nothing happening to it for long periods of time, search engines will tend to ignore it after a while. Think about it, when you go to a site and see that it hasn’t been updated in years, it sends out a signal that they (website owners) really don’t care. It’s also highly likely that the information on the website is incorrect and no longer relevant.
How to Fix it: You need to be editing your website, creating new webpages, and posting new content on a regular, consistent basis if you want to get more web traffic. I’m not saying you need to have a website redesign every six months, but you do need to be monitoring it. “Content” is a pretty broad term and included everything from customer reviews, to videos, to updated product pages.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to create a blog section on your website where you can publish educational articles. And you get bonus points if you post them on your social media accounts as well! If you’re not on some form of social media yet, you need to be. To start off with, you should have a Linkedin profile (either a personal account or one for your business) and a Facebook account for your business. Once you have those two set up, you can determine if having other accounts will be beneficial to your small business specifically.
2. Duplicate Content
The Issue: Okay, so this is going to do more than drive people away from your site. It can potentially get you black-listed by search engines. This means that search engines (Google primarily) have determined that you’re an untrustworthy source and your result will be removed from SERPs. Google tries hard to index and show pages with unique information, so if you get in the way of that, you’re pages will be penalized.
How to Fix it: Thankfully, there are ways to work around duplicate content, and not all duplicate content is bad. For example, adding a canonical tag in a page’s URL tells search engines to pass search rank to that specific page and to rank it higher than a similar page with duplicate content. However, a best practice for your website should be to either expand or consolidate pages where necessary, so no duplicate content exists. Adding redirects to a different page is also a great way to remedy duplicate content, and that way searchers wont see a 404 error if they find a page that no longer exists.
If you’re wondering how to create a cononical tag, here’s a great video by Moz to help you out!
The Issue: Yes, it is possible to have an over optimized website. Deliberately using meticulous keyword density (keyword stuffing) or a particular structure to gain search engine ranking is over-optimization. Keyword stuffing worked back in the early days of SEO, but search engines have come a long way since then and are smart enough to recognize this black hat technique. Plus, search engines use so many other factors now than just keyword optimization.
How to Fix it: Your website needs to cater to readers and the human aspect first. And highly relevant, readable content is what readers want.
So, what does this look like?
Use obvious and clear headers and page titles so readers know what your page is about, included related keywords on your page that most people would associate with your information, break up the layout of your content by included different fonts, bolded sentences, or italicized words, and use a variety of mixed media (videos, images, infographics etc) to break up your content. Make sure your pages are clearly laid out with a lot of white space to make it easier for searchers to read and process them.
4. Talking Only About Yourself
The Issue: It’s important to get your name and brand out there, but constantly bombarding people with just your image is not flattering. People want to know you care about them and aren’t just pushing a product. This is especially true in social media. If you’re only concerned about your brand or your latest sales promotion and you are not interacting with your audience, you’ll eventually alienate yourself.
How to Fix it: It’s now the age of Inbound Marketing in the business world. That means always putting your customers first and letting them come to you when they’re ready. Not only does this create better customer service on your part, but it also gains your business more qualified leads and a higher ROI down the line.
No one’s interested in reading your webpage extolling your own virtues. Web searchers are looking for answers to their questions and search queries. You’re going to gain leads and customers by showing your relevance and knowledge of a topic, so publish pages and post articles addressing common industry questions and current topics.
5. Hidden Text, Links, or Images
The Issue: If certain text, links, or images are hidden on your webpage, you’re not thinking about the people visiting the site, you’re thinking about search engines. Including keywords in unreadable text, changing the color of hyperlinks to match the page background, or including indistinguishable images on a webpage is doing you more harm than you may think. You may think you’ve hacked the system to help your page rank higher, but in fact search engines will quickly discover what you’ve done and swiftly remove you completely from SERPs.
How to Fix it: Stop using black hat SEO techniques and stick to ethical optimization techniques instead! If there’s even a hint of deception associated with your brand, search engines AND searchers will stay far away. There’s plenty of ethical methods to optimize your page space so search engine crawlers index and rank your page high.
6. Blank Images
The Issue: Google (and all search engines) cannot read images without some help. Google’s algorithms require text to understand what a webpage is about. If your site is loaded with imagery, it might look awesome, but if Google can’t find or understand it, no one will see it in a results page. If people are searching for your business on the web, they couldn’t care less about flashy graphics and fun colors – they want information.
How to Fix it: If you plan on including images on your webpages (be it anything from your business logo to a screen grab), you need to “explain” to Google what the image is, so their crawlers can index it.
This means you need to provide a description in the ALT tag section of your image. You need to describe what the image is so crawlers can understand your page, and so Google can index your image for the image section of their results as well. ALT tags help to tell a logical story of your webpage.
The above six actions will cause you to push away potential leads and lose the customers you do have. Running and managing a fully functional, small business website is a full time job in itself and needs to be a top priority if you want to achieve any sense of long term success in your market.
Internet marketing experts who have had long term success avoid the above mentioned lazy, black hat, and irrelevant marketing actions. If you want to get more web traffic, your content needs to be your primary focus.