Problem pages – If you do not keep a constant SEO eye on your website at all time it can take you a long time to get back lost traffic.
If you have ever worked on creating really great content for your visitors and the search engines to munch on, you know how much work it takes. It takes an effort to reach a great user experience and at the same time master all the technical SEO parts of running a modern website.
One of the basic requirements for an SEO specialist is to identify problems and create solutions that work with the rest of the website in question.
A thorough SEO review will identify current SEO problems on the website in question, but it will be difficult to find the more elusive issues.
Possible reasons for losing Search Engine traffic
- Outdated Content – Not updated for a long time or outdated with new information that has not been added.
- Deleted Content – Sometimes you remove content that you should not have deleted.
- Technical Problems – Do you check your entire website for errors regularly?
- Algorithm Changes – Google changes the way they rank content regularly.
- Orphaned Content – If you by mistake delete all internal links to the page, it does not matter how many external links you have, Google will not give it a high ranking.
Let us dive into more details on the how and why some of your great content is not getting the love from Google and other search engines as it did before.
Identifying stale content
It can be very difficult to identify content that is growing old and stale if you do not keep a constant eye open.
One of the many features in SEO Booster is identifying traffic from search engines and gather information about what visitors are using to find your website. This data is recorded and stored on your website – allowing you to have a historical overview of the traffic going to you.
Apart from using the information to get a better insight into what keyword terms is bringing you traffic, it also brings an additional bonus – it can help you identify pages that have problems.
Problem pages? What do you mean?
By looking at historic traffic data you can identify the pages that used to get traffic, but for one reason or another no longer receives any visitors from search engines, these are problem pages or “Lost Traffic.”
Finding out if you have pages like this on your website can be difficult and time-consuming – and maybe you do not even have this problem, to begin with – usually you will only identify this via an SEO audit.
A thorough SEO audit will go through your existing content and evaluate each page on your website to identify areas on your website you need to make changes.
If you are not experienced in the world of SEO, this problem can be difficult to identify or even know to look for it to begin with. Our SEO Booster plugin identifies these problem pages for you, and help you choose where to start and what to do.
These problems might happen for any number of reasons, here are some of the reasons you might have old and stale content on your website.
If you have a WordPress website there are a lot of things to keep an eye on – Check out our WordPress Optimization Checklist.
The most common reason for pages to start losing traffic is obsolete content.
Content can grow old and stale. Old material is not necessarily a good thing as it could also mean it is outdated. Google and other search engines are most interested in providing relevant results for their users.
If your website used to rank on page 1 or even position 1, that does not mean it will do it tomorrow – Other websites are sure to be trying to take your spot from you, and that can happen for any number of reasons.
Constantly updating your content might not be necessary, but not updating material for a long time gives your competitors a chance to push you out of your sweet ranking spot.
For example – Last year you created a huge page about the benefits of using butter in your cooking. You did your research, wrote a few thousands of words – had an infographic created along with videos and illustrations to follow your article.
Your hard work paid off – you got a lot of visitors and achieved the high ranking that you were looking for. Everything is excellent, and you move on to other things. As you know if you have made it to the top for your highly competitive keywords; there are always a lot of things to work on when you have a website and want search engine traffic.
Good quality content can be a big benefit and put in the effort for creating great content is worth it. However, it can also grow stale if not updated once in a while. This alone can be a factor for Google to evaluate your content as stale and outdated.
Sometimes you can revitalize old content just by adding new information or changing some parts of the content. A complete rewrite of your page content is rarely necessary.
If you combine your revisions with a little link building, this content will soon start seeing lost traffic again.
A good way to do link building can be to reach out to blogs and websites that accept guest posts – our friends over at izideo have made a huge list of 1500+ blogs that accept guest posts. Go visit and check out their list and other great tips for guest posting.
Deleted content – 404 errors
It happens, content gets old or outdated, and so you delete it. Perhaps it was an accident – you did not intend to delete the page, but it is gone, and you forgot to redirect to a relevant page.
Deleted content might not be a problem, but you can be losing a lot of traffic if you do not redirect the old URL to a new related page or inform Google this is intentional. In this case, you can serve a 410 Content Gone error code.
Many website CRM systems will automatically detect if you delete a page and then remove links to that page in the menu navigation of your website, but links in your content are not. If you delete a page (or just change the URL) and then still have links to the rest of your site pointing to that URL, you are causing problems for your visitors and yourself.
Even if you do not have internal links pointing to the page you deleted there might be other web pages that link to that page. The “SEO value” of the links pointing to your deleted URL is therefore lost, and it causes a problem for the owners of the other websites that will most likely delete the link to you.
Some might get in touch with you to let you know the content is gone but must will just do the easy thing and delete the link or replace it with a competitor and move on.
Redirecting correctly – difference between hard and soft 404’s
A hard 404 is when a URL on your website cannot find the content you are looking for.
A soft 404 is when you delete a URL and instead of redirecting to another URL on your website with related information merely redirect to the front page.
This is often done because it is faster to just redirect to the homepage – but it does not solve the problem as Google already knows the content was there and a “soft 404” is still a 404 error – and you loose traffic.
Lost traffic from technical problems
Most websites these days are built on complex systems (it is difficult to make things easy) and deleting a plugin or tweaking a setting in a CMS such as WordPress could have consequences for the rest of your website. Sometimes problem pages can occur by accident.
A while ago a customer of mine was using a helper plugin built for their website by a former WordPress consultant. The consultant added an FAQ section to the site along with many other custom features and wisely enough made those features into a separate helper plugin.
The customer added a lot of valuable information in the FAQ for their niche, and they got a lot of visitors to the website.
After a while, they stopped using the contractor and decided to handle maintaining and updating the website themselves. Someone decided they no longer needed his “helper plugin” as they no longer used the same contractor and did not check the entire website afterward.
Since they built the FAQ section a long time ago, they no longer visited that part of the website, and never noticed that all the entire FAQ section had disappeared.
It was only after a while when they discovered a big decrease in traffic that they started investigating what had happened. Google by then had more or less forgotten most of the FAQ pages. Fortunately, the company figured out what happened and were quick to enable the helper plugin again.
The damage was done, however, and it caused a lot of lost traffic. Their climb back to the first page took about half a year and a lot of online income.
Google changes its algorithm often. In the past it was rare and only happened a couple of times a year, each time creating a lot of fuss in the SEO community. These changes could have none, very little or extreme consequences for your ranking.
These days the changes happen much more regularly and still can have
You have to pay attention to your entire website can be reached via links found on your website. Content pages on your site that have no incoming links to them are considered “Orphaned Content.”
SEO Booster can also help you by automatically linking to pages internally. If you turn on this feature in the settings page keywords and phrases will be turned in to links.
It takes time
Instead of doing a difficult and time-consuming SEO audit to discover these problems you can just let SEO Booster alert you.
SEO Booster identifies these problems by continually monitoring search engine traffic to your website from hundreds of websites, using the activity to get insight into where your traffic is coming from and going to on your site.
After gathering data for a while, at least a couple of months – these pages are easily identified by checking which parts of your content that used to get search engine traffic and no longer does.