For any business, a sudden drop in website traffic can cause various emotions of panic and stress. Do not worry too much, as there is likely a reasonable explanation for why your traffic has declined.
We will look at various ways your website traffic might have dropped and offer you solutions to these common problems.
What Are Some Causes For The Drop?
There can be many reasons for your sudden drop in website traffic.
Below you will see a detailed explanation of everything that could have influenced your website traffic drop.
1) Misplaced tracking code
If you see there has been a drop in your website traffic, one reason for this can be because of unreliable data. Your website’s tracking code is a common area where this can happen.
Tracking codes are lines of text placed within your website’s HTML.
It is then synced to Google Analytics to give you specific information, like:
- Tracking your website traffic
- Measuring your website’s click-through rate
- Tracking your KPI goals
- Analysing any other activities that users might do that will influence your webpage.
It is not always novice coders who make this mistake; experienced coders can also make mistakes like this.
Finding the problem in your code is essential to getting your website traffic back.
2) You have been issued a manual penalty
You will be issued a manual penalty after a human reviewer at Google has been asked to look at your site.
A penalty will be issued if the reviewer finds that your site is not complying with Google’s guidelines.
What Type Of Manual Penalties Are There, and how can you fix them?
- Thin content. Fix: You can add more content that is relevant to your industry.
- Unnatural links. Fix: Do a full audit of the external links to your site. Ask spammy sites to remove the links they have to your site. For links that can’t be removed, you can submit a disavow.
- Hacked Websites. Fix: Do an audit of all the pages that have been hacked and remove them.
- User-generated or pure spam. Fix: Look through your content, determine which classifies as spam, and remove it.
- Sneaky redirects. Fix: Inside your Webmaster Tools, you can use the “fetch as Google” tool to see how Google’s bot is reacting to your site. Remove any redirects that you feel can be seen as manipulative or unnecessary.
- Spammy structured mark-ups. Fix: Google has rich snippet guidelines which your mark-up should follow. If your mark-ups are hidden or misleading, removing them is best. Google’s rich testing tool will give you a better insight into how your mark-ups are doing.
- Keyword stuffing or hidden text. Fix: If you see this penalty being issued, it’s time to look at your page’s source code. You can also look at the CSS to see if there aren’t any keywords hiding that you feel are being abused and remove them. You can also look at your content and rewrite it, and take out the stuffed keywords and write with the user in mind.
Are Manual Penalties the Fault of the SEO Consultant?
It’s difficult to say whose fault it is because the reasons for manual penalties are diverse. That doesn’t mean you must trust the website editors in good faith. You can always get a second opinion or do a self-audit on your website for any problems.
3) Over-optimising content
Back when SEO became popular, and you wanted your website to rank well, you’d use over-optimising techniques like keyword stuffing. It was a messy way of doing things, though.
As time passed, search engines started picking up on this and changed their searches to be more audience-focused. The reason is that using these over-optimising techniques creates a bad site experience for the user.
If you have content that is difficult to scan through, your users will go to competitors’ websites to look for answers.
Duplicate content is also an over-optimising technique which isn’t always considered malicious or deceptive. It is because Google sees large chunks of text on different websites or within the same website as similar or duplicates of other content.
Suppose your content is duplicated to manipulate your rankings and increase your website traffic. In that case, Google will penalise you because it thinks your content is competing for the same queries when there should be diversity.
When you get penalised, your ranking will suffer. There are cases where the Google algorithm feels that you’ve been too manipulative; it will remove you from the index, and you will no longer be found at the top of the SERPs.
4) Changes to the website
Updating your website can do wonders, but there’s also the chance that it might result in a drop in rankings.
It can fall in search rankings because of changes when the meta robot tags have been implemented, or the canonical URLs have been updated.
Those are more detail-oriented problems. It might be something as simple as a mistake on your website’s code or something worse, like a hack.
There is a solution to make your life easier and to identify the problem quickly. You can use Google Search Console to run a diagnosis on the status of your website. If something is wrong, the platform will notify you about any issues.
If you decide it’ll be better to analyse Index Coverage Errors, this Google tool can do that too. It gives you a better, more in-depth understanding of what might be wrong.
5) Relevancy of your content
As mentioned earlier, your content’s quality and relevance can make or break your website’s organic traffic.
Is your content up to date with what’s going on in your industry? Is it answering the questions your customers are asking? Do you feel like your content can do with a facelift?
Your headline title and meta description are why people click on your content, and those are the first things anyone sees.
So, saying it’s essential to have a title and meta description worth its weight in gold is an understatement. This can assist you in reversing any traffic drops.
If you have a product or service people love, follow through with entertaining and informative copy. That can lead to inbound links from outside sources, and building up your backlink profile will only help you rank higher on the SERPs.
6) Algorithm updates
An algorithm update is the most common issue for a decrease in organic search traffic and a decline in ranking on the SERPs.
Search engines do this because they want to improve the user experience. When users are happy, market share and loyalty will increase.
When Google updates its algorithm, it can push your website from the first to the second page. Unfortunately, only 25% of internet users go to the second page.
It’s not uncommon for a search engine to do regular updates; however, they often do not report on the changes to their algorithms. Your best bet will be to keep an eye on industry leaders for such news.
There isn’t much a company can do once an algorithm update takes place. If you want to improve your ranking, you will need to do a full audit of your website after the update took place.
For example, you can adapt your online strategy through cross-channel marketing to account for the updates.
7) Broken redirects
If you have any structural changes planned for your site, like launching a new one or moving to a different server, you need a 301 redirect plan. Otherwise, your rankings will drop.
Broken redirects are a nightmare for every SEO agency.
Your XML sitemaps, links, and canonical tags have to be updated when using a 301 redirect. This means anyone attempting to visit an old URL will automatically be redirected to the new one.
Setting up a 301 redirect is essential because it will help you not to lose rankings or get penalised for duplicate content.
8) Keyword strategy
If you’re still using an old keyword strategy, you might not see an immediate decrease, but over time you will.
Companies experiencing a slight decrease but who don’t have a solid keyword strategy can review their content and see where it ranks in search results.
Your ranking can change because people’s search habits change over time.
A fantastic free tool to use is Google Trends. It will give you an insight into how the search results for specific industries changed. A couple of years ago, people used to search for the term “cell phone”; nowadays, most people search for “smartphones.”
As you can see, you must adapt to any changes in your industry to avoid losing website traffic.
Even if your team is small, reviewing and updating your keyword strategy can be an intensive process.
Yet, the substantial return on investment will be well worth it when you see your search ranking improve back to the first page.
9) Your site isn’t relevant or updated
Your site’s condition is crucial to how viewers and users handle their time on it. If you have something user-friendly and inviting, users will likely stay longer.
For example, if you have a site that takes a long time to load, you can guarantee no one will wait unless that person really wants to be there. Otherwise, they’re gone.
People want to see and feel that you get them, and with a beautiful website that loads quickly, you can make them feel like that.
If you create content that makes everyone feel appreciated, you’ve got something special. It’s more than just a website; it’s an experience, and people want to feel entertained when they visit your site.
You can use tools to help your videos and images load faster. A content delivery network like Azure will help you with that.
10) Keep an eye on your competitors
There is always the possibility that you didn’t do anything wrong; your competitors may have just improved on their SEO strategies.
The chances of a considerable decline in traffic, in this case, are rare. But if you have dropped a few positions over some time, it is worth investigating your competition.
There’s a beautiful tool that you can use called Rank Tracker. Its Search Engine Result Pages (SERP) history function allows you to see how your rankings have changed over time.
If things look a bit chaotic for you, like a bunch of new websites coming up with frequent shifts, it is more likely you are experiencing something called a Google Dance.
There is nothing to worry about; it is just high SERP volatility that only lasts for short periods because of minor algorithm tweaks.
Now, if you start seeing these same websites overtaking your position for a consecutive time, you might want to start investigating.
When you start seeing that your top competitors are overtaking you across many keywords, you can run their website through SEO SpyGlass. You’ll be able to see whether your competitor is outperforming you in technical optimisation or the quality and size of their backlinking profile.
For times where you see shifts across a couple of keywords, it means your competitors are doing on-page optimisation. Do an audit of your competitors’ pages that you see are outranking you, and compare them to yours. It will give you an idea of what you can do to improve.
11) You don’t have a mobile-friendly site
More and more people are accessing websites through their smartphones. Smartphones are taking over the market, so your website must be mobile-friendly.
If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re guaranteed to see an immediate drop in traffic.
It’s said that half of the global traffic that runs through the web is from mobile phones. It is for this reason that your website loading functions, as well as the user interface, is so essential.
When accessing the web from your mobile, you want quick results. If your website takes a second too long to load, you’ve lost that person.
There are two ways in which you are damaging your website if it’s not mobile-friendly:
- Half of the world’s internet users are missing out on your website.
- Your ranking will drop, affecting your traffic from the desktop.
Any company that has ever experienced a decline in web traffic knows how scary it can be. It means a reduction in visibility, followed by fewer conversions, which leads to less revenue. It feels like everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve is unravelling before your eyes.
For that reason, we’ve compiled this article for you: so you can take control of the situation and not panic. Take a step back and assess things while calmly going through all the possibilities. Then it’s time to get the game plan going and get those rankings back to where they were before (or higher!).