The "SEO Visibility Index" in a nutshell

By — Star Republic
12.07.2020
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Have you noticed an unnatural drop in organic traffic to your website? Most likely you’ve lost your SEO Visibility. In this short article you will learn what the SEO visibility Index is, how to check your website’s trends and what to do if you’re facing a drastic drop in traffic.

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What is the SEO Visibility Index?

The visibility index value, provided by the software SISTRIX, is a current standard within the SEO field and signals how well your website has developed with Google, regardless of external influences; such as the amount of traffic you have gained in total. In other words, the visibility index reflects your website’s overall SEO effort and will reveal if the optimization you’ve done, both technical and content updates, was a success or not.

Potential causes of a SEO Visibility drop

Any change you make on your website has the potential of increasing or decreasing your SEO visibility. Yes, any change you make, such as altering your title tags and headings, technical adjustments in the backend code or an updated frontend template. Small changes, major updates or quick fixes; the magnitude of the change is subjective, but the impact the change has on your SEO visibility has its own scale.

For example, removing the global noindex meta used on all pages in preproduction when it’s time to deploy is a quick fix, but forgetting to remove that tag, clears out all your visibility.

The following list highlights a few of the most common reasons for a loss in visibility.

  • Old pages are not redirected correctly to the new target URL for the same content
  • JavaScript rendering of the main content prevents Google from accessing the content in an easy way
  • The main navigation of the website doesn’t provide a link to all pages on the website
  • Buttons are used instead of link tags for certain functionalities
  • Page weight and loading times have increased

How to check your visibility index

The Visibility Index is part of the SEO module in the SISTRIX Toolbox which is offered as a free trial for 14 days. Just navigate to sistrix.com and enter your domain name in the search field and press start. Straight away you will be served tons of SEO data to review for your website, such as keyword suggestions, ranking positions and of course the visibility index.

How to interpret the Visibility Index

If the index value follows a sideways trend, this tells you that your website has stabilized and isn’t affected by any major Google Updates (the blue labels shown in the example) . This signals that the SEO effort you’re doing, or not doing, doesn’t set your site at a high risk for the moment.

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This particular domain shows an example of a typical long term sideways trend in between Q2 2017 and Q3 2019. The major drop in 2018 is most likely related to a technical issue, quickly resolved.

If the index value follows a positive smooth upward trend, you’re all good. This indicates that the SEO optimization you are doing is a success and you should stick to the strategy you have.

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With the start in Q3 2019, this domain shows an example of a positive upward trend. The SEO efforts they make are paying off (if they do any). This could also reflect a decreased visibility for one of the competitors or a Google Algorithm update.

A steep and drastic downward trend signals that there are issues and you have to start investigating what has caused this trend. Notice the date of the drop; did you make any major changes to the site at that time that might be the cause? As already mentioned, the reason could be anything; but start your investigation by checking the following common reasons in the list below.

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This particular domain shows an example of a steep and drastic downward trend at the beginning of January 2017 and has firstly recovered to a visibility index value of 12 at the beginning of 2020.

Common reasons for a drastic downward trend

  • Did you make any technical adjustments that might prevent Google from reaching your main content?
  • Did you update a large amount of URLs on the site without redirecting the old URL with a 301 Redirect header?
  • Did you shift from http to https?
  • Are you having a lot of noindex metatags that should be in production?
  • Have you made changes in the robots.txt file preventing bots to crawl your website?
  • Does the date of the visibility drop correlate with any Google update?
  • Have you made a change in the main navigation so that crawlers can’t reach all the pages on the site?

These are some common reasons for why you’re facing a drastic drop in the visibility index. The list is not complete in any way and often, sadly, the lack of knowledge is the root cause. Simply, you can’t solve a problem that you're not aware of. Recovering from a visibility drop often takes some time and the best approach to fixing the issues might not be clear. Especially if technical changes are needed.

No matter what your visibility trend looks like, sideways, upwards or downwards, there is always room for improvement.

To be continued...

If you are as concerned about SEO and visibility as much as I am or just have a few questions about search visibility in general, let's get in touch for an open minded chat about it. Who knows, we might end up building something great together?

Johan Björtin

Head of Data Insights

Star Republic

Say hi!