Keeping up with search engine algorithm updates is a full-time job for SEO professionals, but you don’t need to spend all day checking where your site ranks compared to your competitor. These are three signs to watch out for when you think your website is falling behind.
Ranking on Google, Bing, or another search engine is a bit like a horserace. There are clear winners and losers, but the end result is always in flux. Just because your website is in the lead today doesn’t mean that will be true tomorrow. Especially if Google unleashes a change to their algorithm, something that happens hundreds of times each year. These updates can be based on everything from security (like the update in 2018 that required sites to use SSL certificates or be flagged as insecure) to mobile-first design.
Some updates, like Google Chrome’s retirement of Flash media, are well-publicized, but others may sneak by without notice and can end up tanking your website traffic. Before you can understand if your website is falling behind, you’ll want to get a very clear and tangible picture of where you are at today. This is where Google Analytics comes in. It’s very easy to create a Google Analytics account and it’s a great free tool to help you understand more about the success of your website and digital marketing efforts. Once you have your Google Analytics account set up, you can watch out for these three signs your website is falling behind.
Falling Keyword Ranking
If you set up Google Search Console along with your Google Analytics account, you can see which search queries your website appeared in the results for. Search console information is available for as long as Google has indexed your website, giving a lot of data that may not be available elsewhere if you’ve only started monitoring your digital footprint. This information is also available from Bing through their Webmaster Tools. You can use these tools to identify which keywords and queries show your website in the results as well as get an understanding of how often your site is clicked on when viewed. Nearly 9 out of 10 searches begin and end on the first page of search results, so if you see your click-through-rate (the number of people who click to visit your site vs the total number who see your webpage on the search results page) decrease, you’ll know it’s likely your rank has fallen. Alternatively, signing up for a keyword rank tracking service will give you access to tools and specific information about how your website is performing when it comes to specific keywords and reduces the amount of manual analysis needed.
Rising Bounce Rate
Another way to know your website is falling behind is an increasing bounce rate. A bounce rate is shown as the number of times people came to your website and left right away versus the number who came and stayed. The bounce rate should remain fairly stable with an established website and high bounce rates often indicate a technical problem or misalignment. Bounce rates typically increase when a site takes too long to load or when the person who visits the website is not expecting the information expected (for example, searching Chicago Cubs and seeing information binturong cubs instead of a baseball team). To identify the root cause of your increasing bounce rate, check out your Google Analytics. If you can pinpoint a specific source or medium that is causing this issue, it’s likely an advertising issue to at fault. If your bounce rate seems to have generally skyrocketed across the board, then you are likely looking at a technical website issue and it may be time to call in a professional WordPress website developer to help.
Falling Conversion Rates
Measuring the conversion rate of your website is the best way to understand how well digital marketing is performing and how effective your website is. If you’ve been seeing consistent results from your website, whether that’s the number of phone calls, lead forms, sales, or another metric, your website may be to blame. Search engines strive to bring relevant websites with top-quality content to the top of the search results. If your website hasn’t been updated recently and doesn’t feature a mobile-friendly design, you are almost guaranteed to see your conversion rates fall.
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