Digital Marketing: 10 cures for falling website traffic
By Kevin Vermeulen
In today’s digital-first world, an attractive, well-functioning website is integral to a law firm’s overall marketing strategy.
However, merely having a site is no longer enough to bring new clients through the door. A website must be continually updated and maintained, and metrics monitored to ensure it’s attracting the volume and quality visitors that will allow a firm to achieve its business development objectives. And should that traffic suddenly begin to fall off, it’s critical to understand why and take immediate steps to turn things around.
Has the website been penalized?
A Google penalty can greatly impact a law firm’s traffic, conversions, and credibility. To effectively recover, it is crucial to understand the nature of the penalty – whether it’s manual, algorithmic, or a combination of both.
For a manual penalty, Google’s spam team identifies a violation of search engine guidelines and notifies the site owner through the Google Search Console. Law firms working with an SEO agency should seek their assistance in addressing such issues. Those managing SEO themselves must carefully review their website for any spammy or black hat SEO content. Once these issues are resolved, a reconsideration request can be submitted to Google.
An algorithmic issue occurs when a Google update negatively affects a site’s rankings. Identifying the exact cause may require professional assistance.
Review all traffic channels
Legal marketers need to understand where their website traffic originates. For example, if paid traffic drops, they must first consider any campaigns they might have paused. If the decrease is related to branded terms, fewer people are searching for the firm by name, and they need to figure out why.
Regularly assessing and adapting strategies for each traffic channel based on the data and results is critical to maintaining traffic at optimal levels. Traffic might not recover immediately once appropriate adjustments have been made, so patience and persistence are key.
Pause paid campaigns
Paid traffic will cut into a law firm’s organic numbers to some degree. That’s not a problem as long as overall traffic increases, but when those numbers go in the opposite direction, a firm might be investing too much in Google Ads. If organic traffic recovers during the pause, marketers should rethink their approach, perhaps by focusing paid campaigns on target keywords and key phrases the site isn’t ranking for organically.
Has the website lost backlinks?
Performing a comprehensive backlink audit can help identify lost backlinks and their causes. If lost backlinks correlate specific pages with declining traffic, they’re likely the cause. To resolve the issue, firms may need to contact referral sites or create valuable content to attract backlinks from authoritative sources.
Recovering from lost backlinks and building a solid backlink profile takes time. Marketers who consistently provide value to their target audience and the online legal community are more likely to see long-term success.
Is the website secure?
Google is cracking down on websites that have not fully migrated to HTTPS (Secure HyperText Transfer Protocol). Without it, a site isn’t considered secure and is bound to experience a significant, even permanent, drop in traffic. Purchasing and installing an SSL certificate (Secure Sockets Layer) will resolve the issue,
Is traffic being lost to competitors?
Sometimes, a website will lose traffic to competitors, especially if an alternative site offers more valuable and higher-quality content. When that’s the case, it’s time to get back to basics, either by refocusing keyword strategy, improving content strategy, or both.
A thorough competitive analysis will identify which competitors are gaining traffic and their strategies to attract their audience. Once a firm understands where its missing traffic has gone, a comprehensive and persistent effort to create high-quality content to counter a competitor’s efforts is critical to recovery.
Update keyword strategy
An obsolete keyword strategy can create a slow, steady, and consistent decline in a law firm’s website traffic. A keyword audit can help identify outdated or generic keywords and alternative terms with a higher search volume and overall value. Once content has been revised for the new keywords, performance must be continuously monitored and adjusted as appropriate.
Are answer boxes impacting traffic?
When marketers notice a drop in content or keyword search volume, they should consider that Google may be offering the answer to the searcher’s query in an answer box. Earning an answer box can significantly boost a site’s visibility and drive traffic. But while they are very convenient for users, an answer box may discourage users from navigating to the website. If that’s suspected, firms may want to expand the associated content so it’s too long to be read in an answer box alone.
Consider page and traffic types
If specific types of pages are losing the most traffic or experiencing a significant increase in bounce rate, a strategy may be needed to address those problem pages. By delving into the various types of pages on their website and their traffic sources, firms can create a tailored strategy for each page type and traffic source. This data-driven approach will leave them better positioned to identify weaknesses and capitalize on strengths.
Account for the user experience
A less-than-optimal User Experience will definitely cause a website to lose traffic. This is particularly true if there has been a recent redesign or changes to the site’s navigation or page structure. Slow load times can also discourage visitors from returning to the site in the future.
Website traffic can begin to fail for any number of reasons.
Whatever the cause, law firms and legal marketers should remember that, at the end of the day, visitors are drawn to a great user experience and helpful, relevant content. Any recovery strategy should focus on those fundamentals and build from there.
Feel free to reach out to me with any questions or if you would like assistance developing a strategy for increasing traffic to your firm’s website.
Kevin J. Vermeulen is a partner in Good2BSocial LLC, a digital marketing agency that focuses on law firms and companies in the legal industry. He can be reached at [email protected]