We all know Google isn’t completely transparent about what they want from us. Can’t say I blame them. If they were to tell us exactly what we needed to do to rank high, millions or webmasters would go right to work trying to come up with a quick and dirty way to fool Google. Thankfully, there are a few ‘Symptoms’ which will tell you whether you’re in good graces with Google.
1. Sudden Traffic Spikes Followed by Sudden Drops
If you see a sudden spike in your traffic or your rankings, but it’s followed by an equally dramatic drop, it’s likely that the increased traffic magnified the weaknesses in your site. For example, if you’re on page five and getting just a few hits a day with a high bounce rate, the data isn’t trickling in fast enough to give an accurate account of how engaging your site really is.
If you’ve ever split tested, you know what I’m talking about. With more traffic, you can gather data faster and find the holes in your sales funnel. So while getting to page one is the ultimate goal, you better make sure your site is ready to stay there once it gets there. Page one rankings will bring you a lot more traffic, which can be a bad thing if your bounce rate is high.
The last thing you want is to hit page one, only to be told that you have to go back to page 4 or 5 and start over. This is why it’s so important to be consistently monitoring your bounce rate, time on site and user behaviors and making sure your site visitors are sticking around.
2. Drop in Traffic But Not in Rankings for Main Keywords
Don’t assume that just because your site is ranking high all is well with the world. If you have high rankings for your main keyword, you might have noticed also that you’re getting a lot of traffic for secondary keywords and even long tail keywords. For example, if your site is optimized for the keyword: “online life coaching” and ranking on page one, you could also end up with hundreds of hits per month for keywords like:
how to become a life coach, how to market your coaching business, how to deal with difficult people, listening skills for coaching.
Those long tail keywords can add up to a lot of traffic, and if your site stops getting that traffic, it’s probably because the bounce rate or ‘time on site’ for those keywords isn’t that good. So it’s important to look for drops in your traffic and determine whether your blogs and articles are bringing down the value of your entire site because they¡¦re not delivering as much value. For best results, deliver the same amount of value on your auxiliary pages as you are on your primary pages.deliver MORE value if you can. Building links from one article to other articles on your site, as we mentioned before, will help with this and so will creating valuable and relevant content.
3. Ranking Volatility
Volatility is a stock market term which is used to describe stocks that make frequent jumps which go from very low to very high. If your site is making drastic leaps in the search engine results, this means Google is trying to determine the value and placement of your site. This is especially common when a few update has just come out or when you’ve just created a new site or made some significant changes.
The bouncing isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s something to be mindful of, especially if you have SEO clients. They’ll want to know why their site took a big drop and they’ll also need to know that if it takes a sudden jump, there’s still no reason to get excited. The nature of these changes will also be determined by how competitive the niche is that you are in. If you’re in a very competitive niche with lots of people trying to rank high or your keywords, you’ll be more likely to see these types of fluctuations. You might also notice that the drops happen right before your site makes a jump back to a higher position. Again, this is Google trying to determine the authority of your site so don’t panic when you see a drop but don’t get too excited about a sudden rankings boost. Remember, the key is to stay consistent.
When things settle down, you know that Google has finally determined the placement of your site and you can start building a solid plan for moving up.
4. Drops in Ranking Which Affect Your Entire Site
It might be fairly common for a page or two on your site to drop in rankings, but if the drop seems to be widespread and affecting your entire site, that’s a problem. This means the authority of your site has dropped and most likely it’s not just because of one thing. If you’re doing everything the right way in regard to link building, content and if you have a good bounce rate and time on site, you might have been scraped by some lazy marketer.
In other words, your site’s content was duplicated and republished on someone else’s site for the sake of building up their rankings. Copyscape can help you to find out who these people are, and you can fill out a copyright infringement form against the site owner. Of course, like any other legal process, this isn’t fast and it can be a real hassle, so you have to decide if it’s worth it to go after the person copying your content. If you happen to find one site which has a lot of your content, then it might be worth it.
Another cause for a drop in rankings could be a loss of backlinks. For example, if you’re not building permanent links and you suddenly lose what you’re building, you might see a drop in ranking. That¡¦s another reason why Linkaloha can be a powerful tool to have in your corner. After all, if you’re consistently building links on autopilot it won¡¦t make as much of an impact if you lose some of them.
5. Spikes in Organic Traffic
Most experienced webmasters have seen this a few times: a site gets a sudden and unexplained spike in traffic. While I’m not 100% sure as to why this happens, I have a pretty good theory based on some things I’ve seen. I’ve noticed that if these traffic spikes happen on sites where the bounce rate or time on site stats aren’t good, the traffic will dry right up again. However, if the spike in traffic happens and the bounce rate and time on site is good in response, the traffic normally keeps coming and rankings increase. This can only mean that Google did something to increase the traffic and to test the visitors responses to your site. This would be a hell of a time to get caught with your pants down, since you’re being given an opportunity to earn more traffic. Again, split testing and working towards improving your bounce rate, your time on site and the number of pages accessed by your visitors.
By the way, this is something you want to consider if you’re doing a campaign for sending a lot of traffic to your site. If you buy one of those offers to have 6,000 visitors sent to your site for just $17, be prepared to have a very high bounce rate, which could hurt things for you when it comes to your organic rankings as well. Lots of traffic isn’t always a good thing, you have to optimize your site for conversions before you start blasting a lot of hits and hoping that a few will turn into sales.
Next week I’ll continue to explain some factors you should check if you want to be on the right track!