One of the most valuable data points for understanding how your website and SEO efforts are performing is organic traffic. But what really qualifies as organic traffic? In short, organic traffic is the visitors your website attracts via search engines. This simple metric tells you everything you need to know about how your website is performing in search. Such a valuable metric should always be closely monitored, regardless of whether you are employing a content strategy or not. And, if you are closely monitoring it, you may have noticed a drop in numbers recently.
Before you panic, there are a few things you should know about where your organic traffic may be going.
Organic Traffic is Dropping Across All Search Engines
Organic search traffic is declining across all major search engines. In fact, Google has reported an 8% year-over-year decrease, and Bing and Yahoo are down by 26% and 11% respectively.
You’re not alone if you’re seeing your organic traffic numbers dip—it’s happening universally.
Reason #1: Google Is Improving User Experience
Google—which is responsible for 90% of ALL searches—is constantly innovating and changing the search game. One of their primary goals is to always redefine their customer experience and create pathways that offer searchers quick, easy-to-understand answers to their searches. In the last few years, Google has been working hard to solve a user’s problem or answer their question without them ever having to click on a link to read through any other information than that of the answer they are seeking.
The featured snippet tool in Google’s search engine result page (SERP) is one example of this. For example, if you want to know what the colors of the rainbow are, Google will serve the answer up for you without you needing to click on a website and read the answer for yourself. That answer presents itself as a featured snippet directly in the SERP. Of course, if you want to dive deeper into the answer, Google gives you additional results to search through, but you really have no need to dive further down the search page.
Google solves questions like this across the board. Have a math problem that you can’t do in your head? Google will take care of it for you.
Looking for event information? Google’s got you covered. If the event information exists in a well-indexed public calendar, it’s likely that Google will aim to serve it up directly in the SERP. This doesn’t just apply to local events, either. Events on a national or international scale are populated this way, too.
What this ultimately means for organic traffic is that users don’t need to click to further answer a question. The hard work is done for them. In fact, it’s estimated that as much as 50% of all searches are now being solved with no-click results. It’s a wonderful tool when we’re using Google as curious searchers, but not so much when that means that our organic traffic is suffering and our content isn’t being read.
Reason #2: Search Algorithms Have Changed
A search engine’s unique set of algorithms are always changing to meet a user’s need. Just two years ago, Google made a hefty algorithm update that changed the game for SEO content. The change told businesses and marketers that they needed to not only write focused content (with targeted keywords and meta data)—but that content needed to be intelligent, detailed, authoritative, and highly specific. The algorithm change sent a lot of folks in the industry in a tailspin as they had to quickly pivot their search engine tactics away from keyword-centric strategies and instead required that they focus on long-form, well-researched content marketing. And, websites who didn’t have solid content strategies in place saw significant dips in their organic traffic—some to the tune of 40% decline.
We don’t predict that that part of the algorithm will change any time soon—which is why it’s so important to have a focused and consistent content marketing campaign—but further changes to the algorithm are coming.
In fact, in May 2021, Google will be rolling out another large upgrade to their algorithm: Page experience. In addition to content credibility, websites will now be ranked even further by a core set of web vitals:
- Visual Stability
- Mobile Friendly
- Safe Browsing
- No Intrusive Interstitials
These experience criteria will weigh whether or not a website is served up as a search engine result and could mean that websites who once were seeing organic traffic could no longer be, if the experience is subpar.
It’s important to note, however, that content is still key with organic traffic. Exceptional content will outweigh a poor user experience, but it could be a determining factor when Google is choosing between you and a competitor.
Seeing a Decline in Organic Traffic? We’re here to help.
There’s still hope for your organic traffic. In fact, if you play the game right and have a team you can trust, your organic search results won’t miss a beat.
Now more than ever, it’s vital to have a content marketing strategy that is consistent and rooted in data. Now is also the time to have a team give your website a once-over to ensure its meeting the web vital criteria Google is about to release.
We’re here to help. For a content marketing consultation, contact us today.