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We've all seen that tribal reality TV moment when all the contestants meet by torchlight and vote to exile others with their votes written on a piece of bark, and put it into the giant tiki head. Someone is always getting voted off the island - does that apply to your website too?

On the island (and reality TV show) called The World Wide Web, web pages get voted off too. These are pages that will never be seen by anyone again - ever. They sail off in the digital shore boat and wave goodbye. They entered the competition for attention and were created by well intentioned marketers who thought something needed to be explained and placed on your website. Somewhere along the way, many of those pages got voted off.

Were they removed, banished, punished or marked as bad actors?

Some of them were removed because they were spammy or published incorrectly. But that is not why most of them have been kicked off. The Internet is more like an island than you might think. There are only so many pages that people will visit.

tiki torch

We all know that on a reality TV show, there can only be one winner. Everyone else has to go. In the online world, we may have thought that it would be different - more fair somehow.

With the massive increases in online traffic that have sped up during 2020, surely there should be a place for everyone's pages, right? Oh, there's plenty of room on the website server. But that doesn't mean that those pages will ever see the light of day. They just sit there as piles of data, full of potential, with no one to see them. Online activity (being seen) is another story altogether. Just because a web page is on a server doesn't mean it will be in the action.

More than 90% of pages online get no search traffic.

You ready that right. 9 out of 10 pages get no search traffic - zero. Nada. That means that no matter how pretty, informative or valuable, for the large percentage of website pages, no one ever visits. They've been kicked off the internet island and left to ponder their failure to compete. Like those who have to ride the boat off the island, those pages didn't make the cut. 

Are 9 our of 10 of your online pages being voted off? 

If you look at your website results, you might be surprised to discover how many of your pages have been left behind. Before you feel betrayed, and look around to see who punished your website and its pages, it's important to understand what makes a web page worthy of being found.

Unlike a child that get's a medal for just participating, web pages are rewarded by two very different tribal councils: online users and the algorithms that run the search engines. Your web pages have to be found worthy by both online visitors and by a bot that lives in the cloud (if they'll ever get a click). You can see what happens to 90% of pages - both voting groups are thumbs down.

The big problem with this system is that you're investing time and money in your website, but you are sitting on a bunch of pages that you're keeping up, which are like those castaway contestants - no one is seeing them. Because of this reality, it means that you have to take a whole new look at the way you design and put energy into your website. 

The old way of simply keeping all the old pages, redesigning the website and adding more, isn't going to get you any online visits. It will create a recurring bill for web-data storage. A new approach is needed if you want to keep pages on the island, in the public view and in the running to win.

->Explore a new way to design and manage websites that will keep your focused on the right things and keep your pages on the island.

Why People Vote Your Pages Off

You've probably heard the saying that people vote with their feet. In the case of online searching, this is the case, except it's more likely voting with their hands (and how they use their mouse). Here's how it works: The algorithms are watching (doesn't that sound ominous) and they reward websites based upon the behavior of people online. If people visit and share, then Google sends more visitors. If no one visits or shares, those pages are virtually "kicked off" the internet because they never get listed in search results. It's a circular problem, that starts with the chicken and egg problem (how do you get some visitors and shared links), followed by a predictable result. No traffic results in more - no traffic. This the "no-visitor feedback loop."

The Internet is An Island for Worthy Content only

One thing that this cycle definitely teaches us is that every page we put up online better be highly valuable. Every page needs to be worthy of visiting and sharing. Otherwise, you're putting time and money into an online museum instead of a working website.

While it is true that longer pages tend to be the ones that are in the top ranked search, that is not length for length's sake. It is long and valuable that you need. 

The value of pages on a website isn't something that naturally falls out of a beautiful web design. Everyone likes some nice art, but when millions of web pages look pretty, that won't be enough to keep you on the internet island. 

Why the Algorithms Vote Your Pages off

In addition to the reason above (the no-visitor feedback loop), algorithms also push pages out of view for technical reasons. This has to do with the failure to address some of the critical requirements for getting search traffic. These items include the right code elements, a SSL certificate and mobile friendly web software. But there are more factors. About 200 of them.  

Before you spend more resources on redesigning or marketing your website, find out how much of your website has been affected. You should be asking, "which pages on my website are getting the most and the least traffic?" This information is found in your analytics and should be an important part of where you invest time and resources and focus your marketing activity.

Learn about a better process for redesigning your website with the Pain Free Guide

Find the pages that are valuable and focus on those. Once you identify the pages that are working, those are the ones to invest in. If you have limited time and money, then the saying, "less is more," is really true in this case. A process called Growth Driven Design is best for making sure these pages live up to their full potential.

talk with the story collaborative team

 

David Mills

Written by David Mills

David is one of the founders of Story Collaborative and serves as the Chief Growth Officer. He is passionate about finding the right strategy for each client and helping them move into sustainable growth. He is a veteran of organizational development and communications and has worked with thousands of businesses and nonprofits across the country.