Restoring Lost Website Traffic After an Algorithm Update: Actionable Steps
In the ever-evolving world of search engines, Google algorithm updates have become a buzzword for websites striving to rank high and reach their target audience. These updates are mysterious forces that can either make or break a website’s online presence.
Imagine waking up one day to find that your website has dropped in search engine ranking and your traffic has plunged. It feels like being stranded on an island with no way to escape, wondering what went wrong and how to fix it. This is the impact of an algorithm update, which can send shivers down any website owner’s spine.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Algorithm updates are Google’s way of refining and improving the search experience for users. By rewarding websites with high-quality content, good user experience, and following SEO best practices, Google is helping users find the information they need quickly and easily.
So as a website owner, it’s essential to understand that each algorithm update is unique, and its impact can vary depending on several factors. However, by creating valuable content and providing an exceptional overall user experience, site owners like us can build resilience to algorithm updates and maintain their search engine ranking and traffic.
So, if you want to stay ahead of the curve, here are a couple of actionable steps you can take right now to embrace the challenge of algorithm updates and adapting your website to meet the ever-changing demands of the search engine.
1. Analyze your website’s search performance on Google Search Console
Google Search Console is an essential tool that provides valuable insights into the performance of your website on search engine result pages (SERP), allowing you to filter historical data according to your specific needs.
- To begin, select your website property from the dropdown menu located in the top left panel of the Google Search Console dashboard.
- From there, navigate to the “performance” section and click on “search results.” The performance dashboard will then display important metrics, such as total clicks, impressions, average click-through rate (CTR), and average position. These metrics are crucial for understanding your website’s search performance and future projection.
- To proceed, ensure that the search type is set to “web” and select a date range of 6-12 months. This timeframe allows you to identify the impact of Google’s algorithms and compare current performance stats with previous data.
- Once you have selected the appropriate metrics, activate the “average position,” “total clicks,” “CTR,” and “total impressions” graphs.
- Then scroll down to the “pages” tab and order the pages based on the highest clicks, although you can choose to sort by average position or impressions.
- Lastly, compare the metrics to determine which pages need improvement. By comparing clicks, impressions, and CTR, you can identify pages that are not performing as expected these are the pages you want to first look at.
To begin the optimization process, first, you can review your Google Analytics data and identify pages that have experienced significant traffic loss after the update. Alternatively, you can tell just by looking at the performance chart and how avg. Positions, impressions, and clicks are heading compared to the previous couple of months.
- Once you have a page in your mind, you will need to select it from the list pages, and it automatically gets set as a filter along with the date and web settings you previously established.
- Once the page filter is set, you must navigate to the “queries” tab and analyze the top keywords for that page that are generating the most impressions. You can then activate the impression, clicks, CTR, and SERP position to compare the best keywords for the particular page.
- With this data, you can adjust your content to optimize for the best-performing keyword while also paying attention to other top keywords. (It’s important to note that using these keywords to update your page only pertains to keyword optimization, as you still need to ensure the page provides maximum value and a pleasant user experience.)
- This way, you can extract a list of pages that have been hit by the latest algorithm update to your Excel sheet, which gives you a filtered approach to try and recover a part of traffic by optimizing your pages for keywords and potentially driving more people than before.
2. Update your content structure
To make your article reach people and gain their love, you need to first make it lovable to Google. But how can you do that? Google doesn’t know what you are writing, but it knows what makes an article great. It’s all about making it to the first page of Google SERP.
Google compares your content to the existing top-ranking content to determine how your page measures up. So the trick is to reverse engineer what the top articles are doing to get themselves to the top!
So before creating your article, the first step would be to create an outline that surpasses your competition.
# Prepare your heading structure:
To do this, you need to determine the heading structure and ideal word count for your article. You can search your topic on Google and analyze the top-ranking content. Take note of the heading structure and the length of the article.
You can also look at the second and third articles to gather more headings to include in your outline. This will result in a better outline because it encompasses all the articles that are currently ranking. You can also use tools like Frase to collect a set of headlines without manually analyzing each top-ranking page.
# Optimizer for readers and add keywords that Google would love to see:
When it comes to writing, avoid fluffing around and get straight to the point. For example, if someone is searching for how to make a website in WordPress, they likely already know what a website is and don’t need an introduction.
When updating existing articles, you can use the keywords you have previously discovered on the GSC queries dashboard, as well as other semantic words that Google would like to find on your page. For this task, you can use tools like Surfer SEO, Frase, and SEMrush to enrich your content with relevant words that will improve your page’s relevance.
One way you can do this is by using the keywords you have discovered for a page on Google search console and then using those keywords in a content optimizer tool like Frase and letting it help you optimize the content compared to the best content on Google.
# Optimizer for FAQ and SERP:
Next, write the answers to queries in a Google-friendly format. Keep it simple and direct. For example, if someone is searching for “Does Ahref have a content optimizer tool?” you can answer with a simple sentence like “No, Ahrefs does not have a content optimizer tool yet.”
This type of answer makes it extremely easy for Google’s language algorithm to know that you’ve answered the question, and it can skyrocket your chances of getting into the featured snippet on top of Google search.
# Add Schema to your content
Using schema markup can be incredibly useful for ranking on Google because it helps search engines better understand the content on your website. You can use RankRanger’s schema markup generator to create and validate your FAQ, Article easily, and How to schemas to your HTML code in a way that is machine-readable, allowing search engines to understand the content on your website easily.
With schema, your content has a higher chance of appearing in feature snippets, and people also ask for sections on SERP. For FAQs, you can search your topic on Google and then pick some of the most relevant questions to your topic from the PEOPLE ALSO ASK section and then try to answer those questions clearly and easier way on your page.
Use an accordion plugin on your WordPress site to assign those FAQs and enable FAQ schema or RankRanger’s FAQ schema generator.
3. Focus on Topical Authority
Topical authority refers to the expertise and trustworthiness a website earns by producing high-quality and informative content on a particular topic. The more quality content a website has on a specific subject, the more it becomes known as an authoritative resource. This enhances the site’s reputation among readers and improves its chances of being favored by Google for ranking purposes.
If you feel that your website lacks coverage on a particular topic, assessing your existing content may be worthwhile and considering scaling up your coverage. By producing more quality content on a specific subject, you can demonstrate your expertise and become a more reliable source of information for readers while also improving your search engine rankings.
# Create a topical map
To start creating your content strategy, it’s important first to develop a topical map that includes all the relevant topics that need to be covered. You can utilize a keyword research tool like Chat GPT to generate this map by building clusters of topics around the main subject and identifying relevant child topics.
However, using a reliable keyword research tool to discover keywords around these topics is also recommended. While Chat GPT can assist in creating topic clusters and relevant child topics, it may not provide enough data on the actual keywords that users are searching for on Google.
You can also read this case study on how you can use ChatGPT to research keywords on your site.
In addition, if you have pages on your website that cover random topics and receive low traffic, it would be beneficial to repurpose those pages to cover topics that align with the main themes of your site.
# Create a bond between relevant articles by interlinking
Now that you have a well-planned relevant article on your website, you can seal the deal by interlinking them and creating a net to show search engines how highly relevant your articles are!
A well-planned internal linking strategy can significantly impact your website’s search engine ranking because it distributes the authority of your website’s high-authority pages to other pages on your website. This means that a well-structured internal linking profile can have a similar impact to high-quality external backlinks.
If you cannot interlink naturally between the pages, you can use a plugin like Link Whisper that automates the linking process and find natural key phrases to link between your website pages.
4. Run a full site audit
A website that has great content but is not optimized for technical SEO is like a book that is well-written but has no index or table of contents. Search engines will have a hard time understanding the content’s relevance and ranking it appropriately.
To improve the technical SEO of your website, it’s essential to conduct a thorough audit. Various tools, such as SEMrush or Ahrefs, can scan your site and identify any technical issues hindering your SEO efforts.
These audits cover a range of aspects, including website speed, mobile-friendliness, URL structure, site architecture, XML sitemap, robots.txt file, canonical tags, schema markup, and more.
By conducting a single audit, you can uncover all the ongoing issues and take the necessary steps to fix them one by one. While missing meta tags or breadcrumbs may not be major issues, ensuring that your site is error-free can provide a significant advantage over your competitors.
By addressing technical SEO issues and keeping your site up-to-date with the latest algorithm updates, you can ensure that your website is in top shape and provides search engine crawlers with the best possible user experience.
5. Check and improve site speed
Page speed is a crucial factor that affects SEO. With the introduction of Google’s Algorithm Speed Update, it’s become evident that slow-loading pages can negatively impact your rankings. In addition to being a direct ranking factor, slow page speed can indirectly affect your rankings by increasing bounce rates and reducing dwell time.
If your pages take too long to load, Google may prioritize other sites offering similar value but with a better page loading experience. To avoid falling behind the competition, ensuring that your pages load as quickly as possible is crucial.
You can use tools like PageSpeed Insights, GTmetrix, or Pingdom to test your pages and identify areas for improvement.
Additionally, Google Search Console provides Web Vitals data that reflects real-world user experience on your pages. By keeping your Web Vitals stats in good shape, you can rest assured that SERP won’t impact your site due to poor page performance.
If your page speed is poor and your Google Web vital status has failed, you have a few options to fix the issue. You can try to improve it on your own or enlist the help of speed improvement experts to ensure your site passes the web’s vital records. One such expert is Team Speedy Site, and if you use the coupon code WISPEED50, you can receive a $50 discount on your first order with them.
6. Finally, prepare a link-building plan
Improving your website’s ranking and traffic requires a solid link-building plan that aligns with Google’s algorithm. Link building is still very relevant in 2023 and remains a deciding factor in high-competition SERPs.
While working on other foundational pillars like topical authority, a strong backlink profile can protect your site from Google algorithm updates. Your expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (EAT) largely depend on links and mentions on authoritative sites.
However, link-building is not an easy task to accomplish. You need to build links that work in 2023. One of the best link-building strategies is guest posting. You can do it in-house or hire a reliable service like Authority Builders. Another strategy I like is to insert links in existing articles by outreaching yourself with a quality page or again taking help from Authority Builders.
Additionally, you can get mention links by helping a reporter out (HARO) or by creating newsworthy content and outreaching journalists for links. Building a high-quality backlink profile is essential to your website’s success in the long run.
Semrush’s link-building tool is another great way to find prospects that you can reach out to and might help quicken the process overall.