Google Traffic Down!

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fielding and Surviving Frantic Client Requests

*Fair warning, this is a live draft / work in progress post, as of 12/7/2019! Polishing pending.*

“Our Google traffic is down!” If you’ve done any time in the SEO consulting or digital marketing business, you’ve seen this client (or manager) email at the most inconvenient of times.

From my corner of the industry, it seems like digital marketing and specifically SEO talent comes and goes in waves. For me, it feels like there have been 3 waves, or “generations” of practitioners coming online in the past 5 years.

Again, from my corner of the industry, it seems like marketing agencies are having an increasingly difficult time finding future leaders from in-industry. Thus, if you polled junior (and even perhaps mid-level) SEO practitioners, I fear many wouldn’t be properly equipped to handle the above situation.

For many junior SEO agency personnel, getting the “Google traffic down!” email is an exercise in confusion that mirrors that of the client/manager. Random tactical suggestions emerge, instead of a thorough approach to troubleshooting a potential Google search traffic drop.

Running through a short list of questions can easily cover “gotchas” and a rather large set of common problems.

  • Is the site up?
  • Can our content be found by search engines?
  • Did we set up the site (analytics) properly?
  • Is there search demand for our target terms?
  • Does the content match with the search opportunity?
  • Does the site have a good experience?
  • Is the site properly engaging visitors?
  • Is the brand delighting and retaining users?

This still leaves us with a “broken window” problem- we only wait to look at these metrics until something is wrong. What if we could automate some of this?

  • Is the site up?
    • What if we had consistent uptime monitoring?
  • Can our content be found by search engines?
    • What if we had automated downloads and data warehousing of Googlebot or other search engine log files?
    • What if we were able to submit XML sitemaps on demand with a few button clicks via the API?
    • What if we knew each day or week, the precise page speed figures via the pagespeed api
  • Did we set up the site (analytics) properly?
    • What if we set up a CURL, Beautiful Soup or other method for checking rendered page code to check for tags?
  • Is there search demand for our target terms?
    • What if we set up automated Google Search Console API calls to see daily search data? (Knowing full data may come at a delay)
  • Does the content match with the search opportunity?
  • Does the site have a good experience?
  • Is the site properly engaging visitors?
  • Is the brand delighting and retaining users?
    • What if we rigged up alerts and API data calls for the above data?

What if we were able to warehouse, aggregate and analyze all of this data, benchmarked, at scale? We’d really have something. 🙂

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