SEO traffic disaster: How to recover from a bad website update
Michael Faulkner was excited about his company’s stunning new website. However, as soon as it launched, he could tell there was a problem.
His company, International Machinery, had hired an outside firm familiar with the trucking industry to relaunch its website, but the previously steady flow of leads dried up on the new site.
“It was catastrophic,” Faulkner says. “The phone stopped ringing and the leads dried up and we were non-existent online.”
Website as a sales tool
The Maple Ridge, B.C., company sells used and refurbished semi-trailer trucks across North America and was an early adopter of online marketing in its industry. The company had its first website at the start of the millennium and leaned heavily on it for leads to potential clients.
“It brings us the sales,” says Faulkner. “The days of the Yellow Pages are gone. How are you going to find your customers if you don’t have a strong online presence?”
But with the leads from the website gone, revenues started declining and the business was in trouble.
From Polaroid to digital
The Internet and mobile devices have changed the way consumers search for products, interact with companies and make purchases.
More than 90% of people use the Internet to make buying decisions. Yet only 53.6% of Canadian businesses had a website in 2017, according to Statistics Canada.
At International Machinery, Faulkner says he couldn’t run his business without his website.
He remembers the pre-digital days of taking photos of trucks, getting them developed, sending them by courier and then hoping to make a sale so it wouldn’t be a money-losing effort.
He describes pre-digital experience as expensive, unproductive and time consuming.
“It was just Polaroids back then. That was how you did your pictures.”
The importance of getting a second opinion
Which is why, after six months of poor results from the website, Faulkner turned to BDC to get a second opinion on what might be happening.
A technical review of the website’s performance found a major technical error that caused the loss of their online SEO ranking. With a list of repairs in hand, Faulkner was able to work with his agency partner to fix the mistakes and improve the website’s performance.
“It took a while to get back on track, but my phones are ringing off the hook now.”
A channel to reach a wider audience
Faulkner now updates his website daily with new prices and information about the Kenworth, Peterbilt and Western Star trucks he sells. He also puts a great deal of care into shooting most of his own photos, a key element of his site.
“Get that old inventory off and get the new stuff on,” he says.
“It’s simply my sales page showing off all my inventory. We will get their inquiry and contact them from there and do our best to close the deal.”
Pay attention to your Google rankings
Faulkner believes it is crucial for his company to be at the top of page 1 of Google’s rankings to keep a steady flow of traffic coming to his website.
To this end, International Machinery’s website uses a “huge amount” of keyword search terms to help attract potential customers.
Faulkner also notes the importance of his website working without a hitch on mobile devices or users will “bounce,” meaning they will leave the site before viewing much content.
“It expands your reach to that many more customers who have their phones at their finger tips.”
His website prominently displays photos of the rigs for sale and tells potential buyers that “We Do Trucks.”
Work on the user experience
Beyond SEO, Faulkner says it’s important to create the right user experience.
“Google recognizes the positive and the negative of people’s online experiences and they will penalize you when you have high bounce rates on certain pages.”
He recommends that entrepreneurs who don’t have a solid understanding of how the online world works get a professional “working beside you to audit what’s going on, because it’s imperative.”