Why Website Traffic Can Fluctuate, Even When Ranking High On Google

Oct 30, 2020 | SEO, All, Digital Marketing

Website Traffic is not solely based on Google rankings. There are other factors that must be considered such as user intent and keyword optimization.

There are two basic types of results users find on a search engine – organic search results and paid ads. While the former refers to search results that come naturally based upon a query, the latter is a paid effort by businesses to improve their visibility. Businesses get ranked organically on search engines due to persistent efforts made by search engine optimizers. SEO or search engine optimization is what leads to good organic rankings on search engine results page.

Simply put, if you want your business’ visibility to improve, you must invest in SEO. Paid ad listings on search engines are fine but organic results help businesses get traffic and conversions from a wider user base. If your website doesn’t rank on the first page of Google, it can effectively be assumed that it is getting negligible or no traffic.

It is widely accepted that the benchmark of any good SEO campaign is achieving ranking on the first page of Google. However it is very frequently seen that an increase in impressions (on Google’s SERP) doesn’t directly co-relate to increased traffic. Why does this happen? How can your website rank favorably on Google’s first page and yet you do not see increase in traffic? Does this mean that your SEO campaign is not effective? Are your SEO campaigners not doing their job efficiently? Well, in most cases your SEO cannot be blamed for poor website traffic in spite of good ranking. There is a completely different subject and we shall be talking in details about it today.

How Do Websites Get Traffic?
The common perception is that good ranking on search engines will invariably increase traffic to a website. That isn’t entirely true. You can generate traffic from number of sources. User can directly go to the website by typing the URL, can enter through clicking referrals, via social media and paid ads. But traffic through organic search continues to be the top priority for all business. In fact numerous research says that on an average about 52 – 52% traffic comes from search engines. However these figures cannot be completely trusted because as most experts will agree, tracking organic website traffic is very difficult. Good SEO can improve your website’s performance on search engines but whether they are the only factor driving website traffic hasn’t been ascertained just yet.

When it comes to organic search, there are four intents that assume importance. Here we are talking about the user purpose for searching information on search engines. For each intent different result layout is presented by Google. Remember, Google now pays more importance to user intent than ever before. They are –

  • Informational Intent – When users are looking for information about something, for example Covid-19, or as for this article information about organic SEO.
  • Transactional Intent – Users searching for buying options. For example, “carpenters near me”, “refurbished gaming PC for sale” and so on.
  • Research Intent – Users searching with the purpose of expanding their knowledge, mostly to make better buying decisions. For example, “best heavy duty drill machines”, “best dental clinic near me”.
  • Navigational Intent – Users simply use the search page to reach their known destination without having to type the URL. For example, “Amazon home page”, “Cyrusson” etc.

If you notice carefully for each of these intents there would be different results. For most navigational and transactional queries, direct-to-call links and/or maps will appear on the top while for informational queries, featured snippets will appear on top. Though featured snippets are great ways to easily solve user intent, they can result in lost website traffic. If a user can find all the information they are looking for in the SERP, then they will not click on any website. This means no conversion. This is referred to as “zero-click traffic”. For showing research-related queries, Google does throw in a lot of tools for the user – job listing widget, related images or videos, carousel results and more.

As it now evident, user intent and subsequent search results play a deciding factor in incoming traffic to a website. So, while there can be an increase in impressions or the number of times a particular content is displayed on SERP, this doesn’t necessarily mean an increased click-through rate or traffic.

Ways to Track Organic Website Traffic
It is crucial that SEO experts have the right tools at their disposal to correctly determine how much organic website traffic their efforts are able to bring and the accuracy of the data they have. Some of the common tools used by most are Google Search Console, Google Analytics, Omniture, and SEMRush. While all measure organic traffic data, each does so differently. This means that you are likely to get varying results (and thus draw varying conclusions) studying data using these tools.

Since it is generally accepted that no single tool can conclusively track visitor pattern and user intent, it is important that SEO experts draw their own inferences after studying multiple tools. This will help them draw a comprehensive picture on organic traffic and also user intent.

One of the key things that determine traffic is keyword. For this purpose, SEO experts rely on Google Ads Keyword Planner. While the platform no longer displays average search volumes, it does help identify the average search volume range. In other words, SEO experts cannot know explicitly if certain keywords help improve search volume as Google doesn’t illustrate on the effectiveness of every keyword used. Nevertheless, a broad range does help understand keyword effectiveness.

There are also other factors that have to be considered while evaluating organic traffic. Miscategorized traffic, missing data and spam are some of the major concerns that continue to affect studies on organic traffic. It has been seen that these factors prove especially fatal for sites that generally draw less traffic every month but are less catastrophic for sites with high traffic volume. SEO experts can also be misled by Google Analytics data as other concerns such as ad-blockers, timed-out sessions, empty referrer data, missing cookies or disabled JS can result in missing or unreported website traffic.

While keyword ranking and their effectiveness continue to be important factors that pull organic traffic, no tool can give a clear and simple picture of the same. SEO experts can draw inferences but cannot be completely sure. That’s why it is recommended that more than one SEO tool is used to study organic traffic data.

BERT and Organic Traffic
Another factor that often leads to discrepancies with regards to high keyword ranking but low website traffic is BERT. In October, 2019 Google introduced BERT or Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers which immediately saw businesses report drop in traffic. BERT was introduced to study keywords not as a whole but in terms of context. This means that Google can now ‘think’ more like a human when answering queries and less like a machine.   

So, when websites saw a drop in traffic, it meant that until now many visitors to their site came without any purpose (or were mis-directed).

To conclude this discussion on organic traffic and keyword importance, we can say that they cannot be viewed simply and in isolation. It is best to study them over a period of time while taking into accounts factors as such bot/spam/internal filtering, correct installation, conversion tracking etc. If this is done than more accurate studies on organic traffic can be made – but over a period of time.

How Does SEO Help?
It is obvious to ask that if SEO cannot guarantee website traffic and conversions, so then why hire SEO experts at all? It is true that no SEO agency can guarantee website traffic but what they can do is improve your website’s ranking on Google. SEO experts can ensure that when users search, the intent identified by Google leads to your site and you see improved conversions.

This is the reason why a good SEO company will stress not on website traffic quantity but on traffic quality – keeping in view Google’s changed algorithms. Identifying users based on their intent is very important today and a good SEO company must be able to tap such users.

At Cyrusson Inc. our SEO experts are continuously studying the changing algorithms of search engines.  Even though Google doesn’t reveal all its algorithms, a scientific, research-based assumption helps understand how search rankings are affected. While we work with a client, our motive is to ensure that your website gets prominence on search engine results page. We ensure that –

  • Reduce bounce rate or the percentage of users visiting the site but leaving without taking any action such as filling a form, clicking a link or making a purchase is reduced to the minimum.
  • Conversion is the end goal and not improved website traffic. Good ranking, increased traffic and reduced bounce rate together can mean conversion. We work towards this comprehensive goal.

From understanding why you want more traffic to your site, to what it means for your business and how call-to-actions can help reach your business goals, our approach is simple and direct. We look at the nuances of SEO and treat every website, every keyword requirement differently. Working with us will ensure that you see the best SEO results. Email us or click this link to know more.


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