Why Do Sites Struggle with Traffic and What Can SEO Do About It?

Cars stuck in traffic on a highway at night.

Having a website listed and ranked on search engines is an accomplishment in the highly competitive digital landscape. However, it can be disheartening when these sites fail to attract the expected traffic.

Understanding why this occurs is vital for website owners looking to expand their visibility and engage directly with their target audience.

In this article, we’ll look into why websites struggle with traffic issues despite their best efforts and explore strategies to overcome such obstacles.

Keywords, Keywords, Keywords

Failure to optimize keywords is an integral factor that prevents brands from ranking highly in search results. Search engines rely on keywords to understand the relevance of a website to specific search queries.

Target keywords must be effectively integrated into the website’s content, titles, headings and meta tags to increase its chances of ranking higher in search results and driving organic traffic.

Another critical aspect is the quality and relevance of the website’s content. Search engines prioritize high-quality and informative content that aligns with user intent. Content that does not demonstrate E-E-A-T — experience, expertise, authority and trust — risks being penalized in search engine results.

One of the best ways to start your keyword research for your brand is to begin with a topic cluster. Start by creating your pillar content. This content should be the main focus of your blog or site. For example, with Bruce Clay, our pillar content is focused on SEO. SEO is what we do, and it’s at the heart of our brand.

Navigation menu on BruceClay.com website showing SEO topic cluster.

From here, you can focus on creating cluster content. Cluster content is content that can be hyperlinked from your pillar content.

For example, we have SEO as our pillar content and have a variety of cluster content, such as online SEO training, search engine marketing, pay-per-click marketing, content development and social media advertising.

All of these clusters are secondary to our pillar pieces, but they also all tie back to our pillar pieces. You can create multiple topic clusters for your site.

The point of creating cluster content is that you can create a web of hyperlinks between all the content within a single cluster. It all feeds back into one another.

This is a broad overview; we take it a step further by creating additional clusters for each, such as a cluster for content development where the pillar piece is the content development page, and the cluster pages are all subtopics of pay-per-click marketing.

Graphic from Ahrefs showing relationship between pillar content, cluster content and hyperlinks.
Image source: Ahrefs.com

Keywords are essential with cluster content because each piece of the topic cluster (both pillar content and cluster content) should have its own keyword focus.

Start with the high-level topic keyword for the pillar content, then move into the keyword focus for each subtopic or cluster content topic. Internally link between each page and all of the other pages.

Technical SEO Issues

Left unaddressed, technical SEO issues can damage a website’s search engine rankings.

Factors such as slow loading times, broken links, poor website structure and improper use of headers and tags can negatively affect user experience.

It’s a good habit to regularly audit your site to identify and optimize these technical aspects. Doing so will improve its performance, enhance user experience and ultimately increase organic traffic.

Optimizing title tags and meta descriptions is another important element in driving organic traffic. These elements play a significant role in conveying the relevance and value of a webpage to search engine users.

Poorly crafted or uninformative title tags and meta descriptions may lead users to overlook the website in search results. Optimizing these elements with compelling and relevant information, including target keywords, can increase click-through rates.

SERPStat ran a study where they audited 288 million pages across thousands of websites. They found the greatest technical SEO issues were mark-up-related issues at 29.56%, and meta tags at 26.62%. When it came to mark-up-related issues, a missing Twitter/X card, missing open graph and missing schema.org were the top issues.

Make sure that these are all in working order on your site. As far as meta tags are concerned, the most common issues they found were the extra-long title and the length of the meta tag description.

There are a variety of SEO tools that you can use with your site to check the length of both your meta tag title and description. Yoast SEO is a common choice for WordPress-based sites, or you can use this simple character count tool. The goal is 50–60 characters for your meta title and 150–160 characters for your meta description.

Fresh Content

Search engines value fresh and regularly updated content. A whopping 27% of all high-performing content is no more than a month old. New, ongoing content tells search engines that the site is active and hints that its content will be more relevant than sites that rarely offer new information.

So, develop a content strategy that includes generating new content and refreshing old content regularly to help attract search engine crawlers and boost rankings.

Fresh content goes beyond search engine traffic — it gives visitors to your site a reason to keep coming back. New content can keep readers interested and give them a reason to spend more time on your site.

Use your target audience avatar to determine your audience’s biggest pain points and work to create fresh content that addresses them weekly for the best results.

User Experience Impact on Traffic

User experience is essential in search engine rankings and organic traffic. When search engines determine the ranking of websites, they evaluate the site user’s experience. To do this, they look at real-time data: bounce rate, time spent on site, page load speed and whether the site is mobile-friendly.

A website with slow loading times, difficult navigation, or lack of mobile optimization may experience lower organic traffic. Optimizing the website for a smooth and seamless user experience across devices is vital.

If you’re failing to generate traffic to your website, it’s because you are not paying attention to the factors that influence search engine ranking — keyword optimization, technical SEO, content quality and user experience. Improve these areas and you will improve organic traffic, visibility, engagement and conversions.

Unhappy with your search engine ranking and traffic volume? Our SEO experts can help. Contact us for a free consultation today.

FAQ: How can a website maximize its organic traffic through improved search engine rankings?

Maximizing organic traffic through improved search engine rankings is a crucial goal for any website to increase its online visibility and reach a wider audience. Attaining this objective requires an integrated strategy combining on-page and offline strategies, technical optimizations and content enhancement.

Optimizing on-page SEO is crucial for optimal search engine ranking. To do this, high-quality and relevant content is required.

Utilizing relevant keywords naturally throughout the content, optimizing meta tags, headings and improving the overall user experience can significantly boost a website’s search engine ranking. Regularly updating and refreshing content keeps it current and engaging for visitors and search engine algorithms.

Off-page SEO plays a vital role in increasing organic traffic to websites. Search engines can verify that your website is reliable by building high-quality links from relevant and reputable websites while engaging with your audience.

Creating a solid presence on social media can indirectly affect search rankings, increasing brand recognition and driving more organic traffic to your website.

Additionally, technical SEO plays a crucial role in website optimization. Ensuring that the site’s structure is user-friendly and mobile-responsive is essential for ranking well in search engines.

Optimizing page load times, implementing secure HTTPS protocols and making XML sitemaps can enhance the overall user experience and positively impact search engine rankings.

Lastly, ongoing monitoring and analytics are essential. Regularly reviewing website performance through tools like Google Analytics and Search Console can provide valuable insights.

By analyzing which keywords drive traffic, understanding user behavior and adjusting your strategies accordingly, you can continually optimize your website to maximize organic traffic and improve search engine rankings.

Optimizing a website for better search engine rankings requires a holistic approach encompassing on-page, off-page, technical and analytical aspects. By creating high-quality content, acquiring authoritative backlinks, maintaining a technically sound website and using data-driven insights to make improvements, a website can maximize organic traffic and increase its visibility in search engine results.

Step-by-Step Procedure: Maximizing Organic Traffic for a Website with Search Engine Rankings

  1. Keyword Optimization: Identify target keywords relevant to your website’s content and align with user search intent. Incorporate these keywords into your website’s content, titles, headings and meta tags.
  2. Content Quality and Relevance: Create high-quality content that meets the needs of your target audience. Provide them with content that delivers value. Ensure that your content aligns with user search intent and addresses their queries effectively.
  3. Technical Optimization: Regularly audit and optimize your website for technical SEO issues such as slow loading times, broken links and proper website structure. Ensure that headers and tags are used correctly to provide a clear and organized content structure.
  4. Optimize Title Tags and Meta Descriptions: Craft compelling and relevant title tags and meta descriptions for each webpage, incorporating target keywords and accurately reflecting the content. Ensure these tags provide enticing information and encourage users to click through to your website.
  5. Regular Content Updates: Implement a content strategy that regularly updates existing pages and creates fresh content. Focus on providing valuable and up-to-date information to attract search engine crawlers and keep your website active and relevant.
  6. User Experience Optimization: Optimize your website for a smooth and seamless user experience. Improve page load speed, simplify navigation and ensure mobile optimization for a user-friendly browsing experience.
  7. Social Media Promotion: Leverage social media platforms to promote your website’s content and attract organic traffic. Share snippets of your content, engage with your audience and encourage social sharing to increase visibility.
  8. Monitor and Analyze Performance: Use tools like Google Analytics to monitor your website’s performance. Analyze user behavior, traffic sources and engagement metrics to identify areas for improvement and adjust your strategies accordingly.
  9. Stay Updated with SEO Trends: Stay informed about the latest SEO trends to adapt your optimization strategies. Follow reputable industry blogs, attend webinars and participate in forums to stay up-to-date with the evolving SEO landscape.

Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay Inc., a global digital marketing firm providing search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with him on LinkedIn or through the BruceClay.com website.

See Bruce's author page for links to connect on social media.

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2 Replies to “Why Do Sites Struggle with Traffic and What Can SEO Do About It?”

Sites often face traffic challenges due to intense online competition and changing search algorithms. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, can address this by optimizing website content, improving site structure, and utilizing relevant keywords. It enhances visibility on search engines, attracting organic traffic. Implementing SEO strategies like quality content creation, backlink building, and mobile optimization can significantly boost a site’s ranking, increasing its chances of attracting and retaining a larger audience.

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