Six Ways to Recover Lost Google Organic Traffic (Hint: Don’t Give Up!)
You spend days crafting the perfect blog post, and it actually takes off. Your traffic levels soar, and your website gains tons of new visitors. Awesome, right?
Then suddenly, the traffic dies down. Fewer people read the article, and you stop ranking as high.
Unfortunately, traffic losses are a given in the SEO game. No one can stay at the top forever, right? So, what can you do about it?
I’ve compiled the top six ways to recover lost Google organic traffic below. I’ll discuss why traffic losses happen, how you can fix the problem, and how you can prevent it from happening again.
@iamrodneywarner 6 ways to recover lost traffic from Google organic. #searchenginemarketing #googlesearchresults #digitalmarketingtips #searchengineoptimization ♬ Chill Beat – LoFi Addiction
Why Organic Traffic Levels Fluctuate
Before we can recover your organic traffic, you need to understand why you lost your visitors. Unless you own a major corporation like Amazon, your search rankings won’t always trend up.
You have to constantly fight for your position at the top. New websites and products will always pop up, attempting to steal your crown.
One of the primary reasons websites lose organic traffic levels is stale content. Search engines want to see you publishing fresh content regularly. Unless you’re lucky enough to become a viral one-hit-wonder, you can’t just publish one blog post and stay relevant forever.
Organic traffic levels always fluctuate. You and your competition must tug of war over visitors. Sometimes, your levels will dip, and other days, they’ll soar.
Did Google Recently Update Its Algorithm?
Another primary reason why organic search traffic levels constantly fluctuate is the Google algorithm. Google uses over 200 ranking factors to create results pages. To add insult to injury, it updates these factors all the time.
I know you don’t have the time to re-study each ranking factor every time Google releases an update. I sure don’t!
Algorithm shifts can often cause website traffic dips. If your traffic dip happens at the same time as an algorithm change, then you may want to spend some time studying the updates.
For example, in 2011, Google began penalizing websites for keyword stuffing with the Panda update. Any web pages using too many terms that may have been ranking high previously suddenly lost traffic following this release.
Review Technical Errors Before Diving Into Content
Sometimes, the reason behind your dip in traffic could be something as simple as a minor technical error. Before spending time on ways to recover lost Google organic traffic, check for technical issues in your analytics system and website.
I recommend reviewing the following items:
- Google Analytics: The first thing you should check is your Google Analytics status to ensure you’re receiving the correct tracking information from your website. A simple error in the code from a recent website update could sever your analytics communication. Check the status under the tracking code menu, and if it isn’t active, you’ve found your issue!
- Google penalties: Members from the Google Quality team occasionally issue Google penalties for various reasons. Check if your website has a penalty by clicking the “Manual actions” tab in Google Analytics. Penalties harm your rankings, so review the terms carefully to amend the situation.
- Crawling settings: The platform you created your website on has settings that let you turn indexing and crawling off, making your website invisible to Google. Be sure that you didn’t accidentally activate these settings while working on your website.
- Malware: Type “site:” with your website domain following into Google (i.e., “site:www.example.com”). If strange titles come up that you didn’t create, you may have a hacker or malware issue impacting your ranking.
How to Recover Organic Traffic Levels
“Rodney, I checked all of the above technical issues, and none of them applied to me. What do I do now?”
Don’t fret. Odds are, your organic ranking issues have to do with your content, not some underlying villain.
Luckily, you can still fix it.
Now that you understand why traffic levels fluctuate, you can use my six ways to recover lost Google organic traffic below.
1. Check for Lost Backlinks
Backlinks are foundational in SEO. Each backlink you have supports your website’s EAT: Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.
You may lose backlinks for a few reasons. Maybe the website removed its article linking to your page, or maybe they updated it and accidentally imputed your URL wrong. You might’ve changed the URL for your blog, creating a broken backlink.
Lost backlinks aren’t lost causes. Reach out to the website and ask them to restore the link. You may discover the issue was as simple as an error in the URL.
2. Consider Recent Website Changes
Have you made any significant changes to your website recently? If so, you may need to consider reverting back or looking deeper at the changes.
As I mentioned earlier, Google uses over 200 ranking factors to determine your website’s spot. These factors include items as specific as the alternative texts behind your images, metadata, how clean your custom CSS is, the HTML structures, and more.
If you updated your website, you might have removed something that was actually helping you rank high. Or worse, you may have created an issue, like an error in your code.
You have a few options. You can revert all your changes, wait a few weeks, and see if your traffic restores. If you’re dead-set on your changes, you will need to look deeper into the issue.
Conduct a site audit to locate any errors you’ve created or missed SEO opportunities.
Hopefully, you’ve conducted site audits in the past. If so, you can compare past audits to the current one to see how your updates affected the site. Make edits accordingly to amend your changes.
3. Examine New Backlinks From Non-authoritative Websites
Have you gained any new backlinks lately that seem sketchy? Backlinks aren’t always a good thing. Google only improves your rankings when you receive backlinks from authoritative sites.
When you review your backlinks using the tools I mentioned above, check for non-helpful links, like ones coming from pornography websites, casino portals, spam sites, etc.
If you find any toxic backlinks, consider disavowing them. Do your research first, as disavowing all spammy links may harm your rankings as well.
In many cases, Google can decide which links to crawl for you, so you don’t have to disavow everything. According to Google, you should only disavow links when you have numerous spammy websites pointing to you or an open manual action caused by the toxic links.
4. Refresh with New Content
Fresh content is everything. You can always add more relevant content to your page to keep it in the running with the competition.
Republishing old content brings it back to life, though you need to add value. Research the primary keyword to see what the top-ranking pages do well.
You can view Google’s “People also ask” section to find FAQ ideas. Adding an FAQ section at the bottom of the page is a simple, easy way to add fresh content without reworking anything else.
If you find that the top-ranking pages elaborate on the topic in more depth than you, consider building your sections out more. Did you miss any critical talking points in your article? Use this opportunity to expand your content as much as you can.
You may also need to reevaluate your keywords. While you may still want to rank for the same primary term, the secondary and tertiary supporting keywords may need updating.
Do another round of keyword research to see if you can include more relevant terms in your article. Even if you don’t need to add more terms, you may need to just rearrange them on the page, especially if Google updated its algorithm.
5. Add More External Links
Consider adding more external links to your article to strengthen your authority and trustworthiness. Linking out to high-quality websites proves to Google that you did your research and that visitors can trust the information you’re talking about.
You don’t want to add links in every sentence. Use them tastefully where users may actually find the information valuable. Be careful not to over-optimize the anchor text as well.
6. Build Additional Internal Links
Internal links are one of my personal favorite ways to recover lost Google organic traffic because they’re simple to deploy and low-risk. Consider linking to your article from a few other pages on your website, like your homepage, blog portal, etc.
While you’re at it, share the article on social media channels or to your email subscribers for a traffic boost. Promoting social media shares can increase your backlinks.
Save this step for last if you’re considering updating your website or refreshing the content.
Factors to Consider When Recovering Traffic
While the six steps above can help you restore traffic, numerous factors will impact how the results play out. To start, did one of your blog articles lose organic traffic or your entire website?
If you’re having issues with the entire website losing traffic, not just one blog, you’ll need to evaluate the bigger picture. Start with a site audit, locate your lowest-performing pages, and work from there.
Another factor to consider is keyword performance versus page performance. Is your blog losing traffic, or is it ranking lower for its target keyword? These metrics mean different things, so they’ll require separate recovery strategies.
Finally, consider your long-term goals. If you have only one old blog that’s losing traffic, is it really worth your time to recover it? Does this blog’s keyword align with your website’s future strategy?
Preventing Lost Organic Traffic in the Future
“How can I prevent traffic downtrends in the future?”
Evergreen articles are the dream. Writing evergreen content, however, is less insightful than many realize. You don’t have to get it right the first time.
Your content should evolve with Google updates, fresh trends, and new competitors. Keep your eye on performance metrics, watch out for algorithm updates, check your backlinks regularly, and refresh the content as needed.
Because of Google’s competitive, tricky nature, you may still lose a few articles to the battle over the top position. If so, use the above ways to recover lost Google organic traffic.