One thing I’ve noticed is that a lot of SEO agencies only provide metrics that compare the current month’s results with the previous month. In my experience this can result in a problem remaining undetected for far too long. It may mean that your organic traffic is down and you don’t even know it.

Most businesses are somewhat cyclical and they know when the traffic peaks and falls throughout the year, but they don’t remember what it was like the previous year during the same time period. So as long as the pattern follows a normal cycle there appears to be no need for concern. This actually may not be the case, there may be a problem that you’re not aware of.

Last week I completed an evaluation for a small business owner who knew his organic traffic down and is looking for help. He initially contacted me to request a on-onsite SEO workshop so he would have a better understanding of what his current SEO agency was doing for him and what changes might need to be made. In the end he decided he wanted to have me do an evaluation of his website first.

What I uncovered was frightening. His organic traffic wasn’t just lower than what it should be, it was down 30% year over year. Even worse, his traffic dropped another 50% in June of this year (just after Penguin 2.0).

After running a Link Detox report using LinkResearch Tools┬áit was apparent that there was a problem. A high percentage of his inbound links were from sites that Google has de-indexed and/or are just obviously poor quality sites with little to no relevance to his core business. There are a myriad of other issues as well and we’re spending some time brainstorming ideas for his new website.

It meant a lot to me to have the opportunity to help him understand the importance of solid web development and how important the structure of his website is to Google and more importantly his customers and prospects. As my friend and fellow instructor, Nancy Wigal, will tell you, it all starts with the information hierarchy. If you don’t get your website structure right to begin with you’re going to be fighting an uphill battle.

The good news is that he’s got a solid reputation in the industry and PPC has helped keep the phones ringing. However, it’s unfortunate that he’s missed out on the more affordable traffic as a result of natural search. Over 3,000 searches during the past 10 months have gone to one of his competitors. I think that’s a pretty big loss no matter what size your business is.

I’ll go on record saying that I don’t think his current agency is black hat or unethical. I think they employed what many were touting as good SEO tactics, but in the end have back-fired.

Stay tuned as we clean up his links, develop a new site, and build his organic traffic to where it should be. In the meantime be sure to check your year over year metrics and make sure there aren’t any ticking time bombs.

Until next time.