Discuss 80-20 strategies for building quality, free traffic. Share your best "keep it real" traffic-building ideas, thoughts, strategies. Google changes, SE best practices, outbound links, etc. are all topics we discuss here. Search traffic will always be one of the bedrocks of site traffic - join these rousing solopreneur discussions! Or ask whatever may be puzzling you!

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#1383463 by Kim from New Farm
Mon Oct 09, 2017 11:07 pm
Hi everyone

I finished my https clean up a week or two back and noticed that my traffic for October has taken a dramatic dive.

Has anyone else noticed a similar fall, and if so, is it likely to be a result of the https changes?


#1383477 by Joseph from Mount Laurel
Tue Oct 10, 2017 2:09 am

I am not commenting on that yet, but did want to let you know something odd.

When I looked at your site responsive, the header disappears when I get down
to 446 x 640 or below.

Don't know if you planned it that way or what.

So all you see at the top is a wide band of background light brown.
Cell phone visitors will click away quickly I would think.

Just an FYI, hope that helps some.
#1383498 by Jacki from Macleod
Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:07 pm
Https as a sole reason for a traffic drop probably won't happen like an axe falling. I'm anticipating a slow leak type situation as the search engines gradually replace your site in the index. So, definitely look at other reasons. Https hasn't even happened yet.

PS: if your site doesn't have much traffic, it can look like this. Here's how Semrush sees your site; [Domain Private]
#1383500 by Debs from SiteSell
Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:15 pm
Hi Dave,

It depends on what the changes were that you did as to whether they may have resulted in a traffic loss or not. Since you have not transitioned to HTTPS, it won't be that which caused it.

So if you need to know specifically, I would suggest a traffic troubleshooting review by a SiteSell Pro to see if any of the changes you did make need to be adjusted or if it might be something else causing it.

All my best,

Debs, Director
SiteSell Pros
#1383545 by Kim from New Farm
Wed Oct 11, 2017 4:30 am
Hi Joseph, Jacki and Debs

thanks for your feedback.

Joseph I'll have a look at how my header displays. I think I fix that in Site Designer so that it will display on smaller devices?

Jacki and Debs, my traffic issue has really been there since day 1. I have around 300 pages. I followed the AG and built them all so that they generally have solid demand and limited competition.

They are loaded with information, they mostly pass Analyze It, and yet my traffic still struggles to break around 120 unique visitors per day.

I've been on this road for about 7 or 8 years now and I just don't know where to turn next.

Debs the Sitesell Pro review sound like a good idea but I can't afford to pay for a review and have a "maybe" explanation for my poor traffic. There has got to be a glaring problem there somewhere.

I just don't get it, and after all this effort, it's times like these when I question if I should continue.

Sorry to post a negative rely but I'm just spent.


#1383579 by Jacki from Macleod
Wed Oct 11, 2017 4:18 pm
Kim from New Farm wrote:my traffic issue has really been there since day 1.
This is so frustrating - I feel your pain, Dave. You've been around longer than I have, and you *should* be seeing more traffic than that. Most of it is probably bots, but even so, with that much content, there would be some real humans.

I did take a look at your site, very briefly, and if all your pages are the same, you're not really offering anything that Tripadvisor or other sites would.

Where is *you*? I want to go to New Zealand, it's a fabulous place, but I don't really want to go on a tour. What would you advise for me? Are you looking at the terms and keyphrases that already find your pages? Click the button on your Search Engine HQ to refresh it. Then look at your Traffic Stats page. What are the top ten most visited pages. Go back to the Search Engine HQ page when you get the email. Get a list of the terms finding the top ten pages. Write new pages on those, or add them into the existing pages.

You asked for a site review, what did that tell you?

I think if I was in your situation, and I was serious about making this thing fly
Kim from New Farm wrote:the Sitesell Pro review sound like a good idea but I can't afford to pay for a review and have a "maybe" explanation for my poor traffic. There has got to be a glaring problem there somewhere.
This will tell you exactly where the problem is. They can deep dive into behind-the-scenes, which we can't - we would just be guessing, and you would then have to do the work.
#1383604 by Joseph from Mount Laurel
Wed Oct 11, 2017 9:35 pm
Hi Dave,

Great fix on the header so quickly.
Looks great now.

Just trying to help out some as your traffic should be more
after all your hard work.

The Google search bar is responsive, but has a problem also.
Especially since it is at the top section and in the center of your pages.

The left side stays stationary and on responsive view squashes the search print inside the search box.
It just says Google CU-----instead of Google Custom Search. The box crunches small.
Padding might need to be set auto.

One last thing, the You Tube video's need tweaking also--they do not resize like all your great pictures do.

I think you have a great looking site that just needs more traffic ideas.

A site review could bring more insight to your cause
#1383620 by Dee from Cape Cod
Thu Oct 12, 2017 1:36 am
Hi Dave -

I, too, feel your pain. You've obviously put in a lot of time and work on your site, and I can imagine it's incredibly frustrating to not see the results you'd like at this stage. :(

I just took a look at 5 or 6 pages on your site. Here are my thoughts for whatever they're worth:

1. I'm afraid that with your choice of niche, you've bitten off much more than you could ever chew.

A travel site about a country that has 25 distinct regions covering a geographic area of over 100,000+ square miles? Yikes!

I have enough of a challenge providing in-depth coverage of Cape Cod - a small (relatively speaking) peninsula that has 15 towns and a total area of only 300+ square miles. I can't imagine tackling my entire state, let alone a whole country! :wink:

Have you given any consideration to narrowing your niche?

2. I do see "you" in some places - but not others.

For example: On your Top 5 Adventure Activities page ...

I loved reading about your bungee jumping adventure. Your description of your own experience really brought it to life for me. Of course, I still wouldn't do it - I don't have the nerve to jump! :oops::lol:

For other adventures, though, (e.g., skydiving), it seems as though you're writing about other people's experiences - not your own. Your descriptions are beautifully written, but they're lacking the "you" factor that Jacki mentioned.

It's that "been-there-done-that" element that your site visitors are looking for. That's what will differentiate your site from TripAdvisor, Frommers, etc. More importantly, from a search engine and SERP results perspective, it's that unique personal experience-based content that adds value to the web. That's what Google wants.

Again, this brings me back to my concerns about the breadth of your niche. Can you really give your site visitors a personal "been-there-done-that" viewpoint about activities, attractions, lodgings, etc. for an entire country???

If not, then you're left trying to compete with TripAdvisor, Frommers, etc. ... and that's a thankless task. If you don't provide more/better/different info than they provide, the big guys will out-rank you in the search results every time. (Don't ask how long it took me to learn that lesson the hard way. :roll: )

3. I also wonder whether your choice of keywords is hindering your progress with the search engines in some cases.

Of the pages I looked at on your site, two examples jumped out at me:

1. "new zealand regions" is currently showing demand 104 / supply 1498

It could be that this time of year is not New Zealand's tourism season, so demand is showing significantly less in the off-season than it would during your prime tourism season. Otherwise, those numbers seem way off for generating traffic.

In my case, the biggest issue for people planning their first-ever visit to Cape Cod is deciding which town to choose as their home base and which town(s) to visit in their limited time here. They know absolutely nothing about the area, so they're looking for someone to give them the inside scoop about each town.

I'd imagine the same would be true for first-timers to New Zealand. If that's so, then your regions T2 and its related T3s should bring you a ton of traffic.

If you're determined to cover the entire country of New Zealand ( :wink: ) on your site, then I'd recommend you do some research to find out whether the "which region(s)" question is as critical to New Zealand first-timers as the "which town(s)" question is to Cape Cod first-timers. Go to the big travel forums (TA, Frommers, Lonely Planet, etc.,), look at the New Zealand forum, and see how often people ask a "which region"-related question.

If you find that it is a hot topic, then find the best T2 and T3 keywords you can, and laser focus on writing the most informative, value-added pages you can about each region - from your own "been-there-done-that" experience. Then promote those pages on social, on your site, and every other way you can think of.

Also, consider using C2 or FB commenting on those pages to allow people to ask you questions about each region.

If your research shows that "regions" is not as hot a topic as I'm guessing it should be, then see what the most-asked questions are, and do the steps above (brainstorming, content writing, promoting, C2/FB) for those topics.

If you write about what people are most interested in learning about, do it well with a ton of "you" in your content, and promote the heck out of the pages, that should help get your traffic rolling.

2. "inter island ferry" is currently showing demand 91 / supply 44.

I'm wondering if you might have gone a little too generic with this keyword. I just did a quick "incognito" Google search for this term, and I found that the top servh results were for inter-island ferries in Alaska, Cape Cod, the US Virgin Islands, and Hawaii.

I also did a quick BI and saw that the keyword "ferry new zealand" has demand 144 and supply 41. If I were looking for info about New Zealand ferries, I'd use a NZ-specific search term like this - not a generic one that would apply to all inter-island ferries around the world.

Again assuming that it's now off-season for NZ tourism, and that the demand for most/all NZ travel-related keywords will be better in high season, then I'd expect the keyword "ferry new zealand" would be pretty easily winnable with a well-written, content-rich webpage. It's certainly worth a try, IMHO. This could be one of those "low hanging fruit" keywords that brings in a bunch of traffic. :)

As I said at the start of this ramble, these are just my thoughts for whatever they're worth. I hope something I've said is helpful for you.

And last but not least, I'll echo what the others have said. Consulting with a Pro is the best idea in a situation like this. I'd urge you to do it. You'll be glad you did, I'm sure!

Best Regards,

#1383785 by Kim from New Farm
Sat Oct 14, 2017 12:18 am
Hi Jacki, Joseph and Dee,

I truly appreciate your help.

Joseph I'm not sure how to fix the Google search problem on mobiles. How do I adjust the padding?

Jacki thanks for the suggestion about Search Engine HQ, and yes, I think I will have to bite the bullet and get a Sitesell Pro review..

Dee thanks for your encouragement.

The "new Zealand regions" numbers were pretty much the opposite of the current numbers when I built the page, so the seasons probably do play a role. I appreciate your thoughts on the inter island ferry page. I didn't research that one very well :( .

Yes it is a wide niche. I've really tried to put "me" into my pages, but even then, I can't seem to rate at times with Google, even where the numbers are good.

An example is my page "Queenstown backpackers".[Domain Private]/queenstown-backpackers.html.

It has Demand 1064 and Supply 77 so should be winnable. As of today, it sits on page 7 of Google .com.au (with quotes).

Similarly, "Auckland backpackers" (demand 1270 Supply 127) [Domain Private]/auckland-backpackers.html with quotes - sits on page 6 and without quotes, nowhere.

"Taupo backpackers" (demand 1129 Supply 22)[Domain Private]/taupo-backpackers.html with quotes, however sits on page 2 :).

"Paihia backpackers" (demand 136 supply 16) [Domain Private]/paihia-backpackers.html with quotes, is on page 1. :)

Very similar numbers but a very different Google rating. Go figure :(

I have literally dozens of pages where the numbers are good, but the pages do not rate, and it just bugs the hell out of me.

I understand that the more "me" I put into my pages, the better for my visitors. But I can't get my head around how that affects your Google rank. Is Google really that smart that it can place a value on an intangible thing like "me", and then reward me with a higher page rank because of it?

There just has to be something else really obvious that's stopping my traffic from climbing.

All too confusing.


#1383787 by Jacki from Macleod
Sat Oct 14, 2017 1:55 am
Kim from New Farm wrote:An example is my page "Queenstown backpackers".[Domain Private].

It has Demand 1064 and Supply 77 so should be winnable. As of today, it sits on page 7 of Google .com.au (with quotes).

Similarly, "Auckland backpackers" (demand 1270 Supply 127) [Domain Private] with quotes - sits on page 6 and without quotes, nowhere.

"Taupo backpackers" (demand 1129 Supply 22)http://www.[Domain Private]/taupo-backpackers.html with quotes, however sits on page 2 :).

"Paihia backpackers" (demand 136 supply 16) [Domain Private] with quotes, is on page 1. :)
These are all totally winnable, depending on the competition. Do your competitors have waaay better (longer, more pics etc) pages? And what do you do after hitting Build? You can have the best page in the world, but until you let everyone know about it, it's no use. Don't wait for the search engines to do it all for you.
#1383795 by Dee from Cape Cod
Sat Oct 14, 2017 4:25 am
Kim from New Farm wrote:I understand that the more "me" I put into my pages, the better for my visitors. But I can't get my head around how that affects your Google rank. Is Google really that smart that it can place a value on an intangible thing like "me", and then reward me with a higher page rank because of it?

Is Google that smart? Honestly, Google's algos are getting so smart that it's a little scary, IMHO. :shock:

When it comes to the "me" in our pages, I think what Google's algos recognize and reward is the added value that our personal experiences brings to a page.

For example ... my Cape Cod Fireworks page:

[Domain Private]

My fireworks page consistently ranks #1 or #2 in Google SERPs - ahead of big, fancy tourism sites like our local and state tourism bureaus.

One major difference between my page and theirs is that I've included a lot of "insider" tips on things like: which beaches give the best view of the fireworks; what local radio station to tune to for the music accompanying the fireworks display; how important it is to have a good bug repellent on hand when you're on the beach at dusk; etc.

These little details are super-helpful for my site visitors, and they're the kind of details that only someone with "been-there-done-that" experience would know.

I've also included information about fireworks displays that happen in the off-season months, too.

These are the kind of details that the people who churn out "canned" content for the big tourism sites don't think to include. (I find it both amusing and annoying that some of our local and state tourism bureaus have begun to copy my site's info on their sites. Amusing because it's just little ol' me beating the big guys ... and annoying because on occasion Google bumps my page down to #2 in their SERPS and ranks a page that copied my info ahead of my page. Grrrrrrrr!!! :x )

Anyway ... those insider tips and the off-season fireworks display info, and the way I've written it in my own words, are the "me" on my fireworks page.

I'm 99.9% sure that Google's algos are smart enough to see and reward the added value that those extra details provide for my site visitors and the web in general.

Another factor that I'm quite sure helps that particular page to rank ahead of the big guys' is that I have an open dialog with my site visitors via FB Commenting. People ask me questions about the fireworks displays, and I answer with even more been-there-done-that information. More "me" - and more added value for the web (I hope!) - with every question I answer. And Google rewards it.

So, that's my take on how Google sees and knows the intangibles that make up the "me/you" on a content page.

As to why you're having trouble ranking highly for your backpackers pages, my guess is that it has a lot to do with the strength of your competition.

Looking at the Google search results for a few of your backpacker keywords, I see that the top results are sites that are specifically dedicated to backpackers (e.g., backpackerguide.nz) or they're specific backpacker accommodations websites (e.g., bayadventurer.co.nz).

Not wanting to beat the proverbial dead horse here ( :wink: ), but this is a perfect example of the benefit of a tighter niche. To use one of your pages as an example, let's go with your Queenstown Backpackers page.

When I do a Google search for Queenstown backpackers (without the quotes, because few people search using quotes these days), the #1 page that Google show in is Queenstown's official website. The next three are TripAdvisor, NomadsWorld and HostelWorld. Then I see stayatbase.com, backpackerguide.nz, and a few individual backpacker accommodation sites.

Other than TripAdvisor, NomadsWorld and HostelWorld (gigantic "authority" travel sites) ... what's the commonality in the search results for the keyword "Queenstown backpackers"? They're all very narrow-niche sites.

In my experience, I usually see pages from a topic-specific site ranked higher than a page on the same subject from a more broad-topic site. So in your, case, having a site that covers the entire country of NZ might be a handicap.

Okay, enough from my "niche it down" soap box. You know your topic, your target audience, and your goals for your site/business waaaaaaay better that I ever could. So please feel free to ignore my tight-niche ramblings! :roll::lol:

Just one more thing I'll mention now, because I neglected to mention it in my previous post:

Don't get too hung up on the BrainstormIt numbers. Going back to my fireworks page as an example ...

The BI numbers for "cape cod fireworks" are horrible. Right now (my site's off-season), they're 24 demand / 3 supply. In high season, the demand number is not significantly better.

You might wonder why I wrote that page if the numbers were so pitiful. I did it because I know my area like the back of my hand, and I know that our local fireworks displays are a hugely popular attraction.

Despite the seemingly lousy BI numbers, this page brings my site tens of thousands of visitors per month in-season and hundreds of visitors per month in the off-season.

Once those visitors are on my site, I have the opportunity to lead them to other pages via my internal links - and to monetize them. :D:D:D

My point? Don't put pressure on yourself to "win" for a whole bunch of keywords. All it takes is a few pages ranking at #1 or #2 in the SERPS to get your traffic - and monetization - snowball rolling.

I know you can do it!!!

Best Regards,

#1383877 by Will from Los Ojos
Sun Oct 15, 2017 12:06 pm

Greta post, Dee.

Kim from New Farm wrote:
I have literally dozens of pages where the numbers are good, but the pages do not rate, and it just bugs the hell out of me.

I understand that the more "me" I put into my pages, the better for my visitors. But I can't get my head around how that affects your Google rank. Is Google really that smart that it can place a value on an intangible thing like "me", and then reward me with a higher page rank because of it?


You're right, it's much simpler than that. Here's my own mental picture of how Google does it's stuff.

Think of it like this. In the last couple of years I've discovered my local Lending Library has tons of digital books. I think they're great, I can read them anywhere on my iPhone and iPad, they sync immediately across devices etc. Fantastic. My Library has a top ten list of the week. They can compile this list, because they can see when I take a book out, how long the waiting list is for the book, how many people are on Hold for the book, how far through the book I read, and if I return it within 2 days (bad) or return it after 3 weeks, reading it every day (good). From looking at all their readers, they can gauge how popular the book is and compile their top 10 list.

The Library doesn't need to read the book with an algorithm, and guess how popular they think the book is going to be. They do need some information about the book, so they can categorize it. After that, the readers themselves tell the Library how popular the book is by their behavior.

Google is the same. It's the smartest librarian for the biggest Library the world has ever seen. It crawls your pages so it knows what your site is about, but when it serves a page up for a Search query, it's the readers themselves who tell Google what they think of the page. It's a perpetual motion feedback loop.

I person in 2 in N America is using the Google Chrome browser. Each of those people is sending data back to Google. Every time someone is signed into a Google service, (Gmail anyone?) when one of them lands on your page, they'll tell Google how long they stay, how far down the page they get, whether they are going back to the SERPS within 30 seconds, whether they're coming back for a second or third read etc etc. If lots of people like the page, Google lists it higher up the SERPS so more people see the link. At some point, other peoples page become more "interesting", and yours won't go any higher. Or even drop back :(

There's other stuff that goes into the mix as well. You get a bump up for being an authority domain (lots of links in, lots of mentions etc) . But Google doesn't have to decide if there is enough "me" on your pages. The readers will tell it. If a someone goes back to the same auckland backpacker page, a dozen times during a 3 week stay in Auckland, you can bet that page has some good information. All your readers will "tell" Google how much they like your pages. Just like in my Public Library.

That's why it's pointless trying to guess what Google will do. It's much easier just to concentrate on delivering great value to your readers, just like Dee's fireworks page. There are thousands of people who are writing pages and even whole sites, about your particular Demand 1270 Supply 127 keyword "auckland backpacking". But only the most "interesting/useful" will get to the top.

And if you want to know what Google thinks makes a great value post, go and look at the SERPS for that query. Can you deliver as much or more value than those pages do? Have you got something "different" to say that will make your readers go "Great page!"
#1383913 by Kim from New Farm
Mon Oct 16, 2017 3:12 am
Hi Dee and Will

thank you both for your detailed and thought provoking answers.

I have to admit though that I still don't get Google's ability to know "me".

For Google to make an assessment about the value of my page based on the time that people spend on there, how far they read through the page, etc, that person would still register in my stats as a "Unique visitor".

But I'm not even getting them to select my pages from the Serps because they don't rate high enough.

If I have a great winnable page, well written, with heaps of relevant info, that passes Analyze It, etc etc, then even if someone clicks on it just once, but leaves immediately, that should reflect in my traffic numbers, correct? Bounce rates and page views per visitor are a whole different issue. But I'm not even getting the visit.

Have a look at these two pages:

[Domain Private]/christchurch-attractions.html[/url] Demand 442 Supply 95 currently sits on page 10 on Google.com.au. Ahead of it are sights like [url]https://www.aalton.co.nz/christchurch-attractions/.

[Domain Private]/milford-sound-tours.html Demand 386 Supply 66 currently sits at page 4 with quotes and who knows where without quotes.

Those pages are full of "me" but still don't even have enough of whatever Google likes to make it. I have dozens of them.

I just don't get it. I put "me" into my pages, I follow the Action Guide and the advice given by SBI and my many helpful friends in the forums, and still, nothing.

My frustration is as bad as at any time since I started my site 7 or 8 years ago.

Sorry to be negative.


#1383916 by Jacki from Macleod
Mon Oct 16, 2017 4:18 am
Kim from New Farm wrote:My frustration is as bad as at any time since I started my site 7 or 8 years ago.

Sorry to be negative.
I'm not the best person to respond to this, but one thing I found was that several of my pages did not come from my mkl. I made up some keywords, wrote pages based on things that had already found my site for other pages, and those went viral. I'm not suggesting that Brainstormer is not a great tool, because I love brainstorming. But, maybe there's room to do both. What are your most trafficked pages, from any source?

I understand your being negative, but it's not going to change anything. You are in a highly competitive niche, which may take a lot longer to win, if ever.
#1383923 by Dee from Cape Cod
Mon Oct 16, 2017 6:19 am
Will - I love your library analogy. That makes it so much easier to wrap one's head around the complexities of Google!

Dave - I just took a quick look at the pages you mentioned in your last post: Christchurch Attractions and Milford Sound Tours.

When I search "christchurch attractions" and "milford sound tours" (without the quotes) on google.com, the results shown on page #1 are either: (a) huge authority travel sites like TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet, Viator, etc.; or (b) sites that are dedicated (i.e., tightly niched) to Christchurch or Milford Sound. That's tough competition!!

Dave, I feel your frustration and I do empathize. However, for the dozen or so pages I've looked at on your site, I'm generally seeing the same thing - you're fighting an uphill battle against big authority sites and tightly-niched, location-specific sites for Google's attention and SERP love.

I'd urge you look closely at the competition for every keyword you use. If, realistically, the competition is too tough to beat, then a better alternative might be to go around the competition.

As Jacki said:
Jacki from Macleod wrote: ... what do you do after hitting Build? You can have the best page in the world, but until you let everyone know about it, it's no use. Don't wait for the search engines to do it all for you.

Jacki was spot-on in her recommendation. The search engines are one way to get traffic rolling in to your pages. But they're not the only way.

So, to Jacki's point: What are you doing (aside from the always frustrating, often thankless "Google dance" :roll::wink: ) to promote your pages?
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