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December 29, 2016
 

Internet marketing tips articles are a dime a dozen, and are worth about that much.

You may have noticed that this blog does not contain very many “10 tips” articles. That is because most of the advice I could give has either been covered numerous times elsewhere, or it is the type of thing that will be a big help for some sites, but may do nothing for others. I don’t want to be yet another of the self-proclaimed gurus who makes false promises in the form of “Do This To Rank #1 Right Now”, so I avoid lists of specific tips.

traffic-dropHowever, there are things that DO apply to most websites and their webmasters.
Sooner or later most sites will experience an unexpected drop in traffic, conversions, or both – and it may or may not be your fault. Here are some tips for figuring out the cause of an unexpected loss of sales conversions or decline in traffic.

It’s Right There In Front Of You

“Fix the problem, not the blame.”
Start troubleshooting by looking at the most obvious possible causes. People have a tendency to overcomplicate things, especially something that really can be complicated like doing business online. It is also a lot easier to try to pin the blame on someone or something else – like a Google update – than it is to look at your own site objectively to find the real cause of a problem. If your website has experienced a loss of traffic or sales, start by looking at your own website. What changed? Did part of the site stop working? Was something like a plugin or javascript added or removed? Did you install some new security add-on that might be interfering with the site visitor’s path to becoming a customer? Did you get a message from your web hosting company about scheduled downtime?

Traffic OK But Conversions Down After a Website Change or Redesign

If you just redesigned your website and notice that you are getting fewer sales but the same amount of traffic no matter whether it is organic search, Adwords, social media or another channel – that is not likely to be a problem with your marketing or SEO. To repurpose an old saying:

lead a horse to water

SEO and advertising on search engines can lead a horse to water, but your website may be making it difficult to drink.
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Take a good look at what changed from the old site to the new version. Is it as easy for people to use and find what they need as it was on the old version of the website? If you updated some plugins or changed eCommerce platforms, does everything including the shopping cart and checkout system still work properly?

Even if you did not recently redesign or make major changes to your site, start by looking for what may have changed between the time when things were good and when things went wrong. An SEO audit can help discover things that came about during your redesign that really ARE causing conversion problems – like higher bounce rates due to people finding outdated URLs from your site in Google that lead nowhere.

On the other hand, maybe it is NOT your website

It is also possible that a change in your industry has led to fewer sales. For example, every time one of those “get a website for free” companies launches a big television ad campaign, we get fewer requests for new website designs. People shop around for everything. If one or more of your competitors drastically cut prices on the same things that you sell and has let the world know, that can cause your sales to dwindle, too.

Don’t Assume Everything You Read Applies to You

Nearly every internet marketer in the world has a blog full of news, tips, warnings, and solutions. As confusing as the online marketing can be, it is pretty easy to jump to conclusions when you keep reading scary things. Just because something gets a lot of press does not automatically mean it has anything to do with your site. Google’s Penguin penalty is a fine example of this. Because its effects can be devastating, Penguin receives a lot of attention. But the reality is that very few sites are actually impacted by it. Two out of every five requests I receive for help in dealing with Penguin have turned out to be something else. Sometimes the site in question is ranking well, has not suffered any traffic drops, and has no links that were not obtained in ways that are totally OK with Google. Yet for some reason the site’s owner is convinced the site has this problem because he read about so many other people who have it. Then we find that some key function of the website just happened to break on the very same day the traffic drop happened.

In other words, don’t go looking for complicated solutions when you have not tried the simple ones. Keeping that in mind when you need to troubleshoot low conversion rates or other sales conversion irregularities will help you solve problems effectively instead of wasting time chasing after the wrong things.