You're bound to lose website traffic if:
1) You make changes to your website without running them by your SEO consultant.
Website Owner View: "There are lots of changes needed on our website for branding, marketing, or technical reasons. We don't want to run each and every one of them past our SEO consultant because they shouldn't concern him or her."
SEO Consultant View: Imagine this: Web analytics shows a substantial drop in visitors for some specific keyword phrases. So you spot-check some Google searches, but that reveals no sign of the website in the search results. You pore through the website and find that the pages that used to bring in tons of targeted Google traffic are now missing altogether, combined with other pages, or buried so deeply in the website's architecture that the search engines no longer find them important.
How to prevent loss of traffic: Include your SEO consultant in any discussions about changing anything on the website, no matter how trivial you think it might be. While the changes may be necessary for corporate reasons that are out of anyone's control, at least give your SEO consultant a heads-up and the chance to present an alternative that won't kill your targeted search engine traffic overnight. Don't worry about bothering your SEO with something you think is no big deal—it's always better to be safe than sorry.
2) You think your SEO can work independently and not need (a lot of) your help.
Website Owner View: "I'm extremely busy running my business/department and don't have time for SEO, which is why I decided to outsource to an SEO consultant."
SEO Consultant View: While we'd love to be able to create an SEO strategy, research and choose keywords, make website architecture changes, write brand new sales copy, come up with and write blog posts that showcase expertise, open a Twitter account on your behalf, and gain thousands of followers overnight, it doesn't work that way. If you're too busy to help, your website will not receive the traffic it should.
How to prevent loss of traffic: Expect to spend a minimum of a few hours a week working with your SEO consultant on various tasks, be it reviewing their work, educating them on what you do, writing expert blog post drafts, or socially networking online with others in your industry. You have to be involved. If you don't have the time or can't make the time, then don't bother to hire an SEO consultant because you'll be tying their hands and not seeing the website traffic you hoped for.
3) You know enough SEO to be dangerous.
Website Owner View: "I know SEO, I've done SEO in a previous job and I read all the SEO blogs. I just need some help with implementation."
SEO Consultant View: We love educated clients—really, we do. They are more apt to understand what we're doing and why we're doing it. But you may not know as much SEO as you think. If you had a website in the 1990s and used some SEO software to create doorway pages to just the right keyword density, I'm sorry, but you don't know SEO! We don't want to hear how you read a blog post that said that commas in the meta keyword tag are the latest and greatest of SEO techniques and that "Inktomi" uses them so they must be important. This type of SEO will lose traffic for your website before you have any idea what hit it!
How to prevent loss of traffic: Old SEO advice, and just plain bad SEO advice, is pervasive in our industry. Once you hire an SEO consultant, trust them to be up on current SEO techniques. It's fine to ask their opinion on specific articles you may have read, but please respect their opinion on them and don't go messing up their work based on what you think SEO is all about. Do keep reading and learning, and even attend a conference or two. But discuss what you've learned with your SEO to understand how it may (or may not) apply to your particular website and situation.
It's clear that all of the above reasons for losing website traffic are predicated on a lack of communication between the client and the SEO consultant. I hope that shedding some light on these scenarios will prevent future traffic losses. Both clients and consultants have a vested interest in the SEO success of your website and your business, and want to increase the targeted traffic to your website, not reduce it!There are plenty of other scenarios that can cause a loss of traffic to your website, which I may write about in the future. For now, here are two more prescriptions for SEO failure that I've previously written about:
As an SEO Consultant, Jill Whalen has been providing her no-nonsense, practical SEO advice since 1995. If you learned from this article be sure to sign up for Jill's popular High Rankings Advisor SEO Newsletter to keep up with the latest information in the ever-changing world of SEO. Follow her on Twitter @JillWhalen, "Like" her at Facebook, and "Circle" her on Google+.