Possible Reasons Why Your Rankings Have Improved (but Traffic Hasn’t)
The primary goal for improving your website’s SEO clout is to ensure that you rank more prominently in one or more set of search results. Where you rank in a given search often determines how much traffic, business and attention your website receives. This process of improving your rankings can take months or years, but many stick with it because the rewards are great. This is why it can be frustrating to discover that despite the improvement in rankings, your traffic hasn’t really increased. What could be causing this? Below, we’ll discuss a few of the most common reasons why this is happening.
Ad Shifts in Google Search Results
Over the last twelve months, a variety of changes have been made to Google’s Adwords placement and how each SERP appears to users. The dynamic of the side ad in SERPs completely disappeared, with Google shifting those ads to the top of each page. This results in fewer results being seen at the top of the page, meaning that an improvement in rankings might not result in an improvement of direct visibility within a particular SERP. As more and more people are pinging to Google a variety of queries that can be monetized, expect for Google to take advantage of that prime real estate. If people are still having to scroll down the same amount as before – even if your rankings are better – then that could be a big reason why your traffic hasn’t increased.
Volume Shifts in SERPs
Is one or more of your niches a seasonal affair? Are there clear trends that the amount of traffic in your SERPs waxes and wanes with time? If so, then you may just be experiencing a natural ebb and flow of traffic within the niche itself. Even if your rankings have improved – and thus, the percentage of traffic in the niche you’re receiving has increased – an overall drop in the total number of people searching for that word or phrase could negate any increase. It is definitely worth looking at utilities such as Google Trends to determine whether your targeted SERPs as a whole is experiencing less traffic than usual.
Errors in Analytics
Many people think of traffic derived from search as organic traffic alone. Usually, this is the case, but sometimes your analytics may be off. If your overall traffic totals seem to be fine but the organic traffic amount has declined, consider looking at your direct traffic numbers. Users of Google Analytics have increasingly been reporting that glitches in their totals appear to be due to the utility counting some forms of organic traffic as direct traffic. If this pattern appears for you (increased traffic overall, but less organic/more direct traffic), then you may not have any tangible issue.
There are many different reasons why your rankings can improve but traffic remains steady – or even declines – but most are explainable. In some instances, it can be due to errors pinging to Google Analytics or other programs. In others, it may be changes made by Google that are offsetting your gains. If you continue to work hard, however, this will only be a temporary blip.