It can be super discouraging when your site traffic goes flat. So in today’s article, I’m going to be sharing with you five steps that you can take to take action on this when this happens to just keep your cool and be able to carry on.
By the end of this article, you’re going to see a few real-world examples of me applying this advice to myself in my own sites as well as hopefully, you’re going to feel a little calmer about the situation that you might find yourself in.
Step back and chill
Sometimes people get way overworked in terms of when their site traffic goes flat and they start to change all sorts of things on their site, and sometimes it’ll impact their site in a negative way as opposed to a positive way. But before you do that, just take a step back and accept that’s happened, and then take a step number two.
Audit what’s working and what’s not
Step number two is you’re going to want to audit what’s working, what’s not, and what could be doing better. So you probably know at this point that your site has established some form of success and there are certain things that are working for you as well as certain things that are not working for you.
Sometimes you might find yourself in a situation where Google puts out a big algorithm update and maybe you’re just trying to work backwards on exactly why a post was doing really well before the update and why it now sucks afterwards. So what you’re going to want to do is start a Google document where you’re going to outline what’s going well, what’s not, and what could be going even better.
Maybe you’ve noticed some sort of pattern or trend when you dig into your Google Analytics data, and then maybe you are able to confirm or deny that trend when you start going into Google Search Console. Whatever it is, you’re going to want to do a comprehensive search through on all the different tools and resources that you have available to you from a data side. So Analytics and Search Console can be a great place to start, but another place to really supplement it with is a digital marketing tool, like SEMRush.
The goal when you use one of those more advanced digital marketing tools is that you want to run it through their project plan tools as well as their audit tools in order to see if there’s any sort of thing that these tools are able to pick up on that might be happening.
These tools can often be some of the first ones to pick up on some lost positions that you might be facing in terms of some of your search engine ranking pages, and in the case where you don’t already use one as well, you can also use some SERP tracking tools in order to track your top positions and see what sort of fluctuations you might be experiencing in the top things that are leading to the most organic traffic for your site.
But it’s just really important that you take an audit for a second and make sure that you know you have a sense of exactly what might be working well with your site. In the case where you still are kind of lost when it comes to what it takes to do an effective audit, I would recommend you go on YouTube and check out how to conduct a technical SEO audit. Or you can also see if there might be somebody out there who might be able to conduct that for you and give you a simple analysis.
This can often be found by going to some freelance websites like Upwork and sourcing a freelancer to do that sort of external audit for you. Typically speaking, it’ll only cost you a couple hundred bucks or so, but it can be useful at times to get an outsider’s perspective as opposed to just only looking at it from your lens.
Refresh your old content
Step number three when it comes to your site going flat is you want to refresh your old content and see where performance has dropped. So typically speaking, when performance drops, it’s often related to that content being too old or stale, and it just needs to be a little bit more refreshed. This will happen with any blog post, regardless of how old or how many backlinks there are for that post. It’s always useful to go through some sort of refreshing process.
I’m guilty myself of not always refreshing my content, and what I’m often able to see is if I jump in a search console and look at some of the top-performing posts from a year ago. They’re very different from the ones that are top-performing today.
The reason why it typically is because a year ago that content was a lot fresher whereas the new content that’s ranking in my top pages are typically at the same point that those top performing posts were a year before. And so it’s really useful to work in some sort of content refresh plan, especially when it comes to the post of yours that have traditionally done so well.
The best way to approach this is I usually go into my analytics and then from there sort my pages based off of the most page views in the last six months as well as the last 12 months. From there, you can compare to the prior period, and then what it’ll do is it’ll show you the differences between traffic from one period to the next period.
You can take the same approach when it comes to Google Search Console as well. What you can do in this situation when you’re in search console is go ahead and filter through and then look at what used to get a ton of clicks and what gets a lot less clicks today. It’s some very basic Excel manipulation, but it’s something that can help you identify the source of where your traffic might be going flat.
Also, just be aware that this is part of the game when it comes to playing an organic SEO game. Typically speaking, you’re chasing some sort of long tail low competition keyword, and so naturally more competition will come up over time, which requires you to make sure that your content is refreshed and up to date in terms of being the most comprehensive piece of information.
Publish through your plateau
It’s really important that you don’t lose faith at this point just because your site has been flat. Maybe you’ve been doing the same thing for a while. It could also be the time where you could actually double down on your content production and then look to just bend the curve for yourself by giving yourself more opportunities with more valuable content as long as you are not compromising on quality.
Oftentimes, I’ve found that just staying the course in terms of publishing through the plateau can do a great service to your website because you’re not overreacting, which naturally goes back to tip number one here of the step of just taking a step back and chilling. But what you’re able to do is you’re able to keep working on improving the overall comprehensiveness and authority of your website.
In the next slide, I’m going to share with you a really grueling process of publishing through the plateau. And the reason why I’m going to share this example is because one of my websites had plateaued for pretty much 24 months. That’s right, 24 months. So for 24 months, my traffic was more or less flat. And I’ll share with you an exact example of this, but pretty much what’s happening during this time period is I am still publishing new content.
So what that means is that really the content’s not really sticking. There’s something wrong here, right? But that’s really a short term vision of how you can view building a website, because in this case, I could have easily just called it quits here. I went through an entire year in 2020 publishing content, and as you can see here, the page views are up maybe 3% year over year, but overall they were more or less flat and the next year wasn’t all that different of a story.
As you can see here, I published a lot more content as well. I stayed the course, and yet, despite all that effort in which I was still publishing anywhere from 10 to 20 posts a month, what was happening was I was still stuck in this page view situation in which, you know, what we were seeing was page views only grew about 6.6%, but I still persisted. And the reason why was because the site was steady. It was something that the authority was improving over time, and I could see that on a longer time horizon. And so what I’ve seen this year is that in this year, I’ve seen of 50% jump in page views as a lot of my other competitors have pretty much stopped publishing.
And so there’s comes a time to obviously call it quits on a website, but there also is a time when you need to really just publish through the plateau. This is a site that I am really passionate about. I think that it’s something that, you know, is really valuable for the world. And so I knew that as long as I just keep providing new content out there, eventually, I would be recognized for all of that content.
Another nice thing about this is that because I’ve published for 24 months just continuously, I essentially was just continuing to snowball my overall site. So by this point, when it was ready for that breakout moment, what happened was, all of those existing posts also supported the new posts, and so it just created a great inner web of authority and comprehensiveness in my respective niche.
Consider working on a new website
Now let’s go ahead and take a look at the fifth step here, which is really to just consider working on a new website. Sometimes the best way to solve a site going flat is to just take a break on it. Sometimes you’re going to be burnt out. You don’t want to create new content around that sort of site, just because you’re not seeing the results. You’re putting in the effort, but you’re not seeing the results. And so something that I’ve also done in the past is I’ve simply just worked on another website, and to show you an example of what this looks like, here’s one of my websites in which I haven’t really put any new content on this site.
And sometimes, the best thing you can do is just do nothing. Because in this case, as you can see, year over year, despite the fact that I haven’t added any content in this case, I have a situation in which the page views are up by 34%. And again, no new content, no real content refreshes, even in this case, it’s just been a dormant website, so you never know what you don’t know. And sometimes, it can just be useful to let the content age and see where it lands before you decide whether or not. It’s time to invest more and more back into that site.
All right, there you have it. Five steps that you can take when you find yourself in a situation where your website traffic has gone flat. Don’t get discouraged. It’s not the end of the world. You can work your way through it, but it really comes down to whether or not you are going to stay disciplined through this plateau. Every site goes through plateaus. Businesses go through highs and lows as well as plateaus. And so don’t be surprised if you come across this at some point.
The first time is always the hardest, but after you’ve seen it once, you’ll know that you know you have what it takes to get past that plateau. You’ll see this all the time when you’re building an online project, whether it’s a website, a YouTube channel or something else, even full on, businesses go through these sorts of plateaus all the time where they’re having to ask themselves these similar questions to really figure out what’s going to help them get to the next growth curve.
But when it comes to content sites especially, it’s really important to take a stock of exactly what’s working and what’s not, so you can stop doing what’s not working and really double down on the things that you know will ultimately drive a key performance indicator for your site.
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