It’s every webmaster’s nightmare… a sudden drop in web traffic that seems to occur out of the blue and doesn’t appear to be temporary. What do you do? This is when you break out your imaginary Sherlock Holmes deerstalker hat and begin a thorough investigation.
In truth, a drop in web traffic can happen to many different kinds of websites. The first step, of course, is actually realizing that the drop has occurred. Without closely monitoring Google Analytics, you could be blissfully unaware of a marked decline in visitors to your website.
By looking at Google Analytics, you may be able to get a quick answer to your mystery. It’s possible that you’ll discover that declines occur routinely at certain times of the year. If that’s the case, these declines may simply be part of the landscape and mostly out of your control. There are, however, many other possible suspects.
Action Items For Understanding a Drop in Web Traffic
After you’ve eliminated the above possibilities, you’ll want to take your magnifying glass and look deeper to find the cause of your drop in web traffic:
Have You Made Any Significant Changes Lately?
You may be excited about recent changes that you’ve made to your website. Perhaps you did a whole new redesign or you’ve cleared out pages that you didn’t think were useful. Unfortunately, it’s like revising a written document. You may correct typos you come across but you run the risk of introducing new typos into the draft without realizing it. With a website, it’s easy to create indexing or crawling errors that Google will penalize you for.
To get to the bottom of this, go to your Google Search Console (GSC) and then proceed to Crawl / Crawl Errors. Look at the graphs and see if there are any sudden changes. If so, that could be the cause of your drop in web traffic. You also need to know if you’ve created any broken links by altering content or eliminating pages. GSC can report broken URLs as well, which gives you the opportunity to correct that particular mistake.
The Dreaded Google Penalty
Have you angered the gods of Google? You may be relieved to know that it’s not especially difficult to be in violation of their rather demanding quality guidelines. Once that happens, there’s a good chance you’ll get a notice appearing in your GSC account (look in the Search Traffic / Manual Actions section). Other than your site being hacked, these penalties are very much under your control. If in doubt about what to do if you’ve been hacked, you can always check Google’s recovery guide for answers.
If you have spammy links on pages where you allow content generated by users (such as comments), you may have the perfect culprit responsible for a drop in web traffic. In a comments section, the spammers will leave a generic message and then drop in their links, and they may drop in dozens with each message. Using spam filters in WordPress can usually catch these kinds of comments but a few devious spammers may still get through occasionally. You need to uncover any violators and do the appropriate cleanup to remove their spam.
A surprising number of web pages on the internet contain less than 300 words. As anyone who uses WordPress and Yoast knows 300 is the bare minimum word count considered acceptable. Any less than that and Google may decide that your web page contains little meaningful content for its users. A drop in web traffic could definitely have something to do with this issue.
Thin content could also define pages that contain brief text and lots of links. A page that meanders off-topic from the title and meta description of the page won’t be liked either. Either delete, alter or hide such pages from being crawled. Always strive to create pages of quality original content. That’s what Google and viewers want.
Google continually creates updates, much to the horror of many webmasters. A web design practice that was perfectly acceptable one month could be grounds for a Google penalty the next. Keep in mind that they don’t do it to inconvenience webmasters. It’s purely about providing the best experience for people doing Google searches. Google is the king of search engines, and they undoubtedly intend to stay that way. Updates help them do that.
All of this is unnerving because you have to stay on top of all these Google updates to make sure that your website is in compliance. If you’re seeing a drop in web traffic, a Google update could well be the cause. Stay in the loop regarding new updates and how they may potentially affect your website. Doing so can save you much heartache.
Fighting Competitors For Keywords
A sudden drop in web traffic can signify that competitors are fighting you for certain keywords. If you see your web pages dropping in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), it’s quite possible competitors have an active PPC campaign in place and they’re bidding on AdWords you were previously ranking highly for.
In a fight for keywords, one strategy would be to overbid competitors for certain keywords. If you’re already stretching your budget to the limit, that may not be possible. It’s also possible that some competitors will always be able to outbid you. Remember, however, that keywords aren’t everything. They’re just one piece of the puzzle.
If you’ve experienced a sudden drop in web traffic, don’t take it lying down. Solve the mystery. If you can’t, we can. Dreamscape Marketing has designed, built and maintained hundreds of websites. As a Premier Google Partner, we understand the world of SEO and can help you reach the next level of success. Contact us today at 888.307.7304. Let’s solve this together.