Is your website experiencing a drop in organic search traffic? Though the drop is short term in many cases and could spring to full recovery, many people tend to panic. Did Google adjust its algorithm again? Did my site get attacked or did I do something wrong? These questions keep lingering in the mind as solutions seem too far.
Fortunately, most of us in the digital marketing world own sites and have experienced the same problem at some point. In this post, we outline the main reasons why your organic traffic dropped so that you can know where to start.
Transformation of search behavior and trends
In some cases, the drop in your organic search traffic and ranking might not be linked to your content or sites’ external links. It can be caused by reasons far beyond your control. Because search algorithms are constantly being altered, the way search results get back also changes. However, this does not mean there is nothing you can do. In fact, ignoring present search trends can greatly impact the site’s visibility.
If the landing pages are experiencing a decline in organic searches, it is advisable to refresh the main target and update the keywords to sure they are in line with what the target clients are looking for. Think of starting at Google Trends. The trend helps you to gauge whether the targeted keywords experienced a sharp or gradual decline. Besides, you can also use Google Search Console Search Analytics data for a snapshot or what users use to get your services or products.
Uninformed changed by your developer
Apart from common marketing fundamentals, it is not uncommon to getting some developers making changes without informing the marketing department or site owner. Therefore, when the organic traffic drops, it is prudent to reach the developer and check whether significant changes we implemented on your site. Then, request a new crawl of your domain using appropriate tools such as screaming frog to locate the pages that were stripped of the content or marked as no-index.
Besides uninformed changes initiated by the site developer, carefully evaluate every piece of new content not in line with your targets. Such content might be added by visitors coming to your page.
Algorithmic or manual penalties
One reason that results in the sudden drop in organic traffic is a manual penalty. If the website fails to comply with the Google quality guidelines, a manual penalty will be slapped on you. However, a drop in organic traffic due to manual penalties is easy to identify because a message from Google Manual Action of the Search Console sends a message instantly.
Algorithmic penalties happen when Google updates/changes its search algorithm. Unlike the manual penalties, the algorithm penalties are not easy to detect because no notifications are sent to the site owner. The best thing is trying to comprehensively audit the website to identify things such as harmful backlinks and duplicate content among others issues. Consider employing helpful tools such as Ahrefs and Screaming Frog to point at spammy content and pages with very low word count.
Inattention to technical SEO
Many are the times that brand managers and marketers concentrate more on creating new content and forget technical SEO. Well, technical SEO can get really complex. But you can narrow down to the following key points.
- Is the robots.txt blocking some pages from access by search engines?
- Is any of the pages on your site marked with no index tag?
- Is your site having multiple pages on the same theme of using similar keywords? Ensure to canonize the pages so that they point to the original page.
- Is the website mobile friendly? Today, a lot of people, more than 50% according to Google, are searching content using their smartphones. Google has also given its mobile index preference after dividing the search index.
- Have the pages become suddenly slow? Google algorithm factored page speed in its search algorithm a couple of years ago.
It is important to comprehensively work on your site’s technical SEO using Google Search Console or other relevant tools.
Follow the website’s organic click through rates
The debate on whether websites organic click through rates impact the ranking directly remains a hot button issue in the SEO world. However, if your organic traffic has taken a downward trend, it is prudent to carefully address pages that are ranked very well but not yielding clicks.
On your Google Console account, navigate to the Analytics section and apply fields to show position, clicks, impressions, and through rates. Then, sort the keywords based on the ranks and narrow down to those with low click through rates. To improve click through rates, it is crucial to work on and improve the titles and Meta descriptions. You should also add better call-to-actions on the pages as well as enticing messages to readers.
Lost internal and external links
If you lose relevant and quality links for your page, the impact on visibility will be as crucial as acquiring them. Therefore, if these backlinks get lost or return a temporarily unavailable error to searches, the site’s authority will slacken and cause a fall in search engine ranking.
You can restore the lost backlinks by utilizing professional tools like Ahrefs that searches and identifies all of them. Besides, you can also use Google Analytics to identify declining traffic from specific sources.
If you fail to redirect pages that have been relocated or removed correctly, there is a high probability that a lot of external links will be lost. Therefore, go back to Google Search Console to get a report on 404 errors and set 301 redirects for paths that have recently been changed.
Seeing a website’s organic search plummet is not the desire of any marketer or investor. However, it is a reality and can happen to anybody. Even as much as the blame is directed to algorithm changes and penalties, various manual actions can help to look at the problem closely and fix it. The outlined tips will help you to identify the commonest issues so that you can address them conclusively to regain the site’s top position.