Whilst Facebook and Google blocks us, mobile users ignore us

1 April 2016

Over the last decade blogging and social media has helped non-profit and academic communications cost effectively and with great results. However, the digital communication landscape has changed recently meaning your research could be ignored or even found.

IDS website Source channels and devices

In my previous blog I provided basic guidance on understanding how visitors arrive at your website. In this post I'll take you through these recent challenges by channel and advise how to regain your digital audience.

Mobile and responsive: a survival tactic

So what if mobile device visitor traffic is in the minority? Perhaps you think your website works ok on a small screen with the expanding gestures we're now used to. Unfortunately, Google has a vision and it is mobile (did you forget they own Android?).

Last April Google introduced a new element to their search algorithm to rank websites that are ‘responsive’ in design meaning that content can adapt and reconfigure to display clearly on mobile devices. Since then industry pundits have dubbed this event as ‘Mobilegeddon’ where non-responsive websites have dropped in ranking. Those companies and organisations who didn't have mobile-friendly websites had to advertise via Google, to recapture their main audience.

The other threat is the mobile users themselves. Again, checking your stats for Bounce Rate, Average Session Duration and Pages per Session by Device and we see a declining trend suggesting our visitors have less time to read our content or have shorter attention spans. They face distractions and issues such as social media, videos of cats, smaller screen sizes and they expect ‘snack-sized’ content.

Facebook fans high but exposure low

Just as Google has been changing the ‘rules’, Facebook has also been tinkering with their platform’s algorithms. You may not have noticed but your personal feeds have contained more friend related content than ‘Page’ content. Despite the growth of Social traffic Facebook has actually been declining in the last year. Unless you know how to set up your personal feed on a page by page basis or perhaps have liked and commented on recent posts from a company/organisation then like a magician, Facebook will make your posts disappear.

How to combat traffic loss

Here are my tips to improving your website exposure, ranking and ultimately impact by source channel as described in my last blog:

Organic

  • Invest in a mobile responsive website – for some this might mean the painful process of changing your Content Management System. Improving your server performance as well as the web page load speeds will really help too in terms of search engine ranking and ultimately, the visitor experience.
  • Improve your web writing skills – try the COPE approach (Create Once, Publish Everywhere), front load with keywords and use shorter titles.
  • Advertise – in the short-term you may need to pay for advertising if the content demands it.

Social

Don’t give it up. Publishing to Twitter will actually affect your Organic Search improving your site's ranking or at least the individual web page being promoted (be it a blog, publication or campaign landing page).

For Facebook, consider their advertising but also consider investing in other channels first before giving in to their demands.

Otherwise, try repackaging the content to encourage sharing. There's still the power of viral when content is interesting enough it will be shared. For those short attention spans, think about accompanying images, infographics, short videos and essentially well-written headlines or titles. Whilst you're reviewing your website and Content Management System, make sure your images are Facebook OG and Twitter card scraping friendly. Consult your web programmer if you find images are not appearing correctly when shared on social media.

Referral

If you work with partners then get friendly with your counter-parts. Introduce yourself and work together to link relevant webpages better. Instead of just the web address, use keywords to link. Multiple links are even better within reason. Improving this area will also help your Organic traffic.

Email

With social starting to wane why not take control and become the master of your own communication. There’s a real opportunity here to grow this channel with some modest investment. Those visitors tend to use this medium in more relaxed way and will have more time to read and use call to action links. Good copywriting will guarantee these visits – use the COPE method.

Direct

If all goes well then your website will be remembered, favourited and bookmarked. This is the ultimate goal where your visitors use your website as the ‘go-to’.

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