Search Engine Optimization: Recovering Lost Traffic and Links on your Website

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to magically discover traffic and links to your website without having to do a whole lot of work? Well, there is a way to do this without having to break the bank or even look at your Google Analytics. In fact, in order to properly recover lost traffic and links to your website, you have to stay away from Google Analytics and any other web analytics software that you’re using that relies on JavaScript.

Here is how to recover lost traffic, and links, to your website without having to pay anything. In fact, this will only really cost you some time to look for the lost traffic and links.

If you are not familiar with how Google Analytics and many other web analytics software packages and web analytics services work, then you need to be aware that they rely on JavaScript. When someone visits your website through their web browser, the web browser actually executes the JavaScript. It then “registers” the visit by “calling” the script which sits on a web server over at Google (or Statcounter), or another web host. The whole problem with this concept is that there are variables here in order for the “visit” to be “counted”:

- The page has to have the JavaScript code on it. Oftentimes, we don’t get the code installed on all of the pages on our websites. So, if the code isn’t there, then it can’t work.

- The page isn’t totally loaded by the web browser. If you have a lot of traffic (I mean a LOT of traffic, like from Digg.com or another site that sends a LOT of traffic), there may be an image, banner ad, or even Google AdSense, that cannot keep up with the traffic. So, the whole page doesn’t load on your site and the JavaScript from the web analytics never ends up loading, so it doesn’t register a visit.

- Some people have JavaScript turned off. There are, in fact, people who turn off JavaScript for certain reasons.

So, if there is some sort of issue with the installation of your web analytics code or if it’s not on all of the pages, then it won’t tell you that you’re missing out on traffic or pageviews. Furthermore, Google Analytics and other web analytics software packages that rely solely on JavaScript won’t load or show you the 404 errors on your website or even the redirects.

In order to find the lost web traffic and links, you have to analyze your web server’s log files. Your website’s log files are actually the data files that record EVERY single visit to your website, even the errors. If you look at a list of the errors on your website there undoubtedly is going to be traffic that you can redirect to another page on your website. You can use a log file analyzer program like Analog in order to see a list of the 404 errors.

Let’s take a look at a specific example of how a law firm was able to recover a lot of lost traffic and links. One law firm I’ve been working with, Broden & Mickelsen, a Dallas Criminal Defense law firm, has recently redesigned their website. After the redesign, there were several pages that weren’t included in the new web design, for whatever reason. For example, one page was an example of a letter, a type of form letter that is typically difficult for many people to write. So, many people tend to search for examples of that letter in order to figure out what they need to write in the letter. Because this is a good example of a legal type of letter, many other websites have linked to the letter in the past.

As I mentioned earlier, when the website was redesigned, the web designer didn’t see any need to include this rather “ordinary looking” web page that contained the letter. So, the page was not included.

When I did an SEO Audit of the website, though, I analyzed the website’s log files in order to see if there was any traffic or URLs that were giving errors. And I noticed that in the past month there had been over 15,000 requests for the URL that used to contained the sample legal-type of letter. And, there were hundreds of links going to that URL. But, it turns out that the page was not included in the redesign of the website. So, the page didn’t exist anymore.

So, after discovering all of this lost traffic and links to that URL, I went to www.archive.org and looked up what the old page looked like. I was able to take the letter, copy it, and make a new page on the website (but using the new web design). I also included outgoing links from that sample legal-type letter page to the home page and other important pages on the site. Now, there are links pointing to the page, and PageRank and “link juice” can be passed on to the rest of the website.

Recovering this old page from an older version of the website will ultimately help the website’s search engine rankings. As part of the SEO Audit process, I reviewed the website’s log files and found that traffic (thousands of visitors) and links that still pointed to the site.