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Overcoming downward spirals: Mastering traffic recovery through SEO audits in the age of AI

SkillsCategory
6 min read
Sean Chaudhary

Traffic drops can evoke feelings of defeat for your online presence. You're not alone, and the situation isn't hopeless. Your route to traffic recovery lies amid the labyrinth of Google's changing algorithms. 

The secret key? SEO Audits.

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The impact of traffic decline

Traffic decline isn't just an annoyance. It's a source of real pain, affecting potential customer visibility, business exposure, conversion rates, and revenue. 

Over the past several years, unprecedented Core and RankBrain updates by Google have shaken the SEO world, leaving websites grappling with traffic dips. 

With the emergence of AI, the digital landscape is fundamentally evolving — and there is no choice but to adapt.

Core updates, RankBrain & traffic drops

Google's Core and RankBrain updates, notably, since RankBrain AI algorithm's introduction in 2015 as part of Google Hummingbird, along with the introduction of BERT in 2019, and in several Broad Core Updates since, have affected SERPs significantly. 

Consequently, even websites with previously steady traffic might have experienced unexpected drops, sometimes mistakenly. The first step in the recovery journey is figuring out this Why? — and that's where an SEO audit becomes critical.

SEO audit to your rescue

An SEO audit unveils the mysteries behind your site's performance, pulling out every cog in the machine for inspection and analysis. Amid ever-evolving updates and AI’s increasing role, SEO audits have never been so essential.

Start with a technical SEO audit 

Uncover the cryptic technical aspects such as site structure, URL syntax, page speeds, and mobile compatibility. Since the Mobile-First Indexing update, Google now primarily uses the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking. 

Ensuring your site’s mobile-friendly nature is not just important but mandatory.

Perform an on-page SEO audit 

Following Core updates, quality content has taken center stage. Your on-page SEO audit must focus on scrutinizing and improving every piece of content. 

Examine how well the keyword is incorporated, whether the content matches the search intent and how effectively you've used metadata.

Execute an off-page SEO audit 

Off-page ranking factors like backlinks can significantly influence your site's ranking. The Penguin update (real-time) penalizes websites with low-quality backlinks. An off-page SEO audit helps ensure your backlink profile remains pristine to search engines.

Elements of a robust SEO audit

Now that we’ve laid the groundwork, let’s dive into the components of an effective SEO audit.

Site structure

Site structure is your website’s architectural blueprint. A well-structured site is like a well-organized library: easy to navigate, understand, and find content. The site should be logically organized into categories and subcategories, with internal links connecting relevant content. 

The bonus? A structured site enhances crawl efficiency and helps search engines understand your site’s context.

Keyword silos

Keyword silos are a strategic way to organize your search terms. By grouping your keywords into related clusters, you can create content that richly covers a topic, ensuring search engines recognize you as an authority in that subject matter. 

This method aids in enhancing the topical relevance of your website and boosting your site's ranking for a group of semantically related keywords.

Optimizing your crawl budget

The concept of a crawl budget is paramount for large websites. It refers to the number of pages search engine bots will crawl and index on your site within a specific timeframe. Factors affecting crawl budget include site speed, duplicate content, and site errors. 

By optimizing these aspects, you ensure that search engines can access and index your most important pages, increasing their visibility and ranking potential.

Use of robots.txt and XML sitemaps

Robots.txt file aids search engines in understanding which pages or sections of your website should not be crawled or indexed. Meanwhile, an XML sitemap guides search engines to the essential pages on your site, especially useful if the site is large or has a complex structure.

User engagement

A factor often overlooked but with significant influence on SERP (Search Engine Results Pages) rankings is user engagement. Google’s algorithms have evolved to become more user-focused. 

Metrics like bounce rate, session duration, and click-through rate have gained prominence. RankBrain and the Google Hummingbird algorithm, for example, use machine learning and AI to determine the most relevant results based on these user engagement metrics.

An SEO audit doesn't just focus on technicalities and content. It digs deeper, unveiling crucial information on how users are interacting with your site.

Are they staying on the page, or are they leaving quickly? Are they clicking your calls-to-action? Understanding these user behaviors will empower you to create more appealing, engaging content.

Local SEO

Google's updates have seen a steady push towards personalization, with location-based search results playing a critical role. Therefore, optimizing for local SEO has become integral to combating traffic drops.

A comprehensive SEO audit will help review your local SEO efforts. 

  • Are you harnessing the power of Google My Business listings? 
  • Are your contact details consistent across online platforms? 
  • Are you getting the best value from your local listings and membership links? 

Perfecting these local SEO elements will ensure you remain visible and relevant within your target demographic.

Get a revamped SEO strategy

By understanding and optimizing these technical SEO factors, your website becomes a well-oiled machine, primed for both search engine bots and users to navigate with ease. The benefits are twofold: improved user experience and enhanced visibility in SERPs.

Undoubtedly, technical SEO is the bedrock of a high-performing website.

Understanding Google's updates and how they impact your website's ranking is the silver lining behind traffic drops. With an SEO audit, you get an opportunity to revamp your overall SEO strategy, making it resilient to future updates and algorithm shifts.

A steady upward traffic trend

Resolving the issues identified during an SEO audit leads to the ultimate outcome —  a steady growth in traffic. More traffic means a higher probability of conversions, translating into improving sales — the heart of every businesses’ core goal.

Embrace the process

SEO isn't a one-time activity, especially with Google's penchant for updates. It demands constant monitoring and responsiveness to changes.

Regular SEO audits will help maintain site health and buffer against future traffic drops, keeping you afloat amidst the evolving SEO landscape.

Your recovery from a traffic dip isn't just about remedying the past; it's about anticipating the future. Through SEO audits, you’re not just bouncing back; you're vaulting forward, ready to embrace whatever new updates Google throws your way.