Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of carefully building your website in a way that is friendly to search engines such as Google, to rank higher for search terms related to your business's website.
The quality of your website's content, links to your site and the frequency of new content (eg blogs and articles) can influence your ranking. More recently factors such as mobile-friendliness, speed, security and even the quality of your web design play an increasingly important part in SEO.
SEO is a tricky business. Even the most experienced in SEO may be doing all the things that favour a healthy search engine ranking yet find that the steady flow of web traffic suffers occasional blips. This is normal when it comes to SEO but there are ways around it. Here are 5 ways your SEO campaign may be affected and what to do about it.
1. You notice a sudden drop in traffic
Small fluctuations in traffic are nothing to worry about. Search engines periodically refresh their index, which shake up rankings. The presence of new competitors can also pry away traffic from your website.
On the other hand, if you find that your traffic has dropped moderately or severely, this could point to greater problems. You may have suffered a Google penalty. This could be due an algorithm update (which even expert SEO guys can be helpless against) or SEO malpractice such as keyword stuffing. Google may also be considering your inbound links as spam.
If rankings do drop, do not panic, simply look out for any of these factors.
2. Your website doesn't appear in search
If your website has only been live for a matter of weeks, do not expect it to appear in search rankings. Google will 'crawl' on your website to index your content. Your website will then appear in search rankings when somebody searches for a phrase related to the indexed content. This entire process can take up to a month, depending on the quality of website's SEO.
There are a couple of things you can do to speed up the process such as submitting an XML sitemap on Google's Search Console and ensuring you haven't blocked search bots from seeing your content.
Remember, SEO is a long term strategy that requires constant nurturing.
3. Your built a link that has now disappeared
Getting an external website to link to yours is an effective SEO strategy. If you can no longer find your link, the chances are the host site has removed it. This could be for a number of reasons such as finding your link irrelevant or its been replaced with a 'no follow' link (which basically means search engines will ignore it and pay no attention to it).
To rectify the situation, contact the host to arrange a replacement link to appear in a more suitable location.
4. Your traffic is volatile
You want to achieve a steady stream of increasing traffic as you build your SEO, yet find that your website will have unparalleled amount of visits one day and demoralising low visits the next.
Some volatility is normal. Extreme volatility could be due using a mixture of 'black hat' and 'white hat' SEO techniques. The former method doesn't take into account human audience and largely breaks search engine guidelines, whilst the latter is more consumer focussed and follows search engine rules and regulations.
As mentioned, content is a key factor to healthy SEO. Similarly, a combination of good and bad quality content will contribute to traffic volatility.
5. Your website is slow to load
Both human beings and search engines dislike websites that take a long time to load. A slow loading website will not rank well in search results. There are a few simple steps that can be taken to increase site speed. Remove unnecessary plugins, drafts and meta information that could be clogging your website. Try to use images of low file size too.
If you find after all your efforts, load speeds remain slow, think about upgrading your website hosting provider.
Of course, this isn't a fully comprehensive list of things that could affect your SEO. To find out more and to receive a thorough assessment of your website, get in touch with us to see how we can help your business.