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Are You In Danger Of An Online Traffic Crisis?
As relative newcomers to the world of analytics and site and revenue improvements through analytics, many clients ask me about the traffic sources chart in their Google dashboard:
Why is this important? I give one explanation of this as a measure of “Are my eggs all in one basket?” and “What happens if they are?”
For example, the client above has 66.57% of their traffic from search engines. This is a combination of organic and paid traffic. Of that 66.57%, when we drill further into that segment of data, we see that 84.5% of that is from Google alone with a breakdown of 45% CPC and 55% Organic Search.
We’re looking at around 36,000 visitors alone from Google for March 2012. What would happen if you didn’t receive 55% of those visitors? What would happen if an algorithm change or a shady SEO company (we all know there are many out there) caused your organic rankings to plummet? What would you do?
The flip side?
I’ve seen Google completely shut down a PPC account for a perceived violation of some sort. Yes – some account suspensions are legitimate, but sometimes Google gets it wrong and a perceived violation is not really what it looks like to them. Instead of making a phone call, they just stop showing your ads. What would you do?
Having a healthy division of traffic sources is the key to weathering a storm like I described in the scenario above. In my opinion, relying on more than 50% of your traffic from any one source without a contingency plan is a bad idea. (We’ll talk more about the contingency plan in a moment.)
Many clients come to me wanting to improve organic rankings so they can reduce spend on CPC placements. I get it – PPC is expensive – and it’s kind of like crack – you get a hit (a visitor), you might get high (a sale) – and then it’s gone.
That being said, there is so much more to paid advertising than just keywords and ads in search results. That’s an entirely different topic though.
As search professionals, we tend to talk of things in terms of Google and “Not Google” – with a side of snark and sarcasm for the “Not Google” category. These “red-headed step-children” of the search engine world don’t drive the volumes of traffic that we’re used to seeing in the big “G” but they are definitely worth paying attention to.
If you are banned, filtered, or suspended in Google – you need to look elsewhere to supplement traffic. Here is where the contingency plan comes in and having your AdWords and Analytics data handy helps.
What Do I Do If My Google AdWords Account Gets Banned?
Create an occasional export of your AdWords account and save it in a safe place. If your AdWords account gets suspended, you have the data available to quickly import into Bing AdCenter and create some quick PPC campaigns with the money Google won’t take from you while your account is suspended. You can use this to supplement the traffic you’re not receiving from Google AdWords.
I’d love to say you just call a phone number from the AdWords team (*see Postscript at end of article) and get the account turned back on after a conversation; but that’s not how it works if you don’t spend a significant amount of money per month in Google’s eyes. If you’re spending less than somewhere around $10,000 a month, you’re relegated to the “contact-us form” and days and even weeks to try to get back what you lost.
What Do I Do If My Organic Rankings Plummet?
Just like losing AdWords traffic, losing organic traffic can have a contingency. There are a few things you can do to mitigate the loss of traffic while you work on getting it back.
First, you should have a healthy presence in Bing. Should you change all the optimization on your site so you rank more keywords in Bing than Google? No, you shouldn’t. Should you make sure you’re getting a decent portion of traffic from Bing? Yes, you should.
Use Your Analytics Data To Recover Quickly
Export the keywords you were ranking for organically from your analytics dashboard, export the PPC keywords you’re already ranking for, remove duplicate keywords and create AdWords campaigns with what’s left over.
You will have to supplement your AdWords accounts with more money while you file your re-inclusion request, after you’ve fixed or explained whatever got you banned. Yes it stinks, but can you live without the traffic and sales you’re losing while you wait?
I’d also beef up PPCs in Bing AdCenter until your organic rankings come back. Yes – you’ll have to spend money – but if you can’t afford to completely lose the sales, the investment in PPC will come back.
The same thing can happen with a reinclusion request if your site is filtered in the organic rankings. You fix the perceived violation, and then submit a request to get rankings back, and then you wait.
I see traffic and revenue for my lodging clients from Bing, AOL and Ask on a regular basis. Enough that we at least need to tip our hat, say thank you, and take a look at things from the perspective of those engines every once in awhile.
My point here is to have a plan, or at least the outline of a plan should something happen. We follow the rules nearly to the letter at my agency, and we’ve had PPC accounts suspended because they thought we had malware on a site (we never did – and never found any evidence of it happening.)
You, too, can follow the rules and still have unforeseen issues crop up. Having a plan and using your analytics to solve it can save you a pile of loss in the long run.
Postscript: After this article was initially published, a Google spokesperson reached out to provide this clarification on advertiser support:
Any advertiser can call our free phone support line (866-2-GOOGLE) at any time with any questions. Advertisers can also request a review or appeal of an ads policy issue by calling that number, and we review advertiser appeals very closely. More information can be found here.
Editor’s note: Advertisers using the above help line should be aware that the review process may not result in immediate action, and followup time could range anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks or more; advertisers may want to take note of the author’s original recommendations due to this potential delay.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.