Website traffic is crucial for several reasons. The more eyeballs you have on your site, the more potential customers you attract.
In other words, the number of people landing on your website becomes the opportunity to impress, generate qualified leads, increase your brand’s awareness, and nurture relationships.
And, building relationships and credibility can eventually sell your product or service, bring in new customers and, by extension, grow your business.
So, when your website starts to experience a decline in traffic, there’s a genuine reason to get concerned.
What causes traffic drops?
In this post, we’ll explore possible reasons for the decrease in traffic …because once you know the problem, you can start to figure out how to get things back on track.
1. You Could Be Monitoring the Irrelevant Keywords
If you’ve got a website that’s been around for long, chances are, your keywords may have been already overtaken by events. Analyze your Google search behavior and compare it to the keywords that pop up in your Search Console dashboard.
Are you using keywords or phrases that your target audience may not relate to?
Keep in mind that Google’s algorithm has changed a lot over the years. Today, the search engine uses natural language comprehension to help users find the answers they’re looking for.
In fact, these days, search engines rank websites based on complete sentences. So, your website’s drop in traffic could be because you’re using old generic keywords. Essentially, this means that you’re monitoring the wrong search rankings, and it’s time to get up to speed with your keyword research.
2. You May Have Lost Links
Another reason for a drop in rankings and organic traffic decline is link loss. You can determine if your website has lost links in the last ninety days by using tools like Ahrefs, Majestic, and Cognitive SEO.
Next, you should investigate the following:
If the link drop affects the entire website
If the lost links are located on the same pages of your website where you’re experiencing drops in traffic
If there’s a decline in inbound links to pages that have lost their ranking
If there are lost links to pages on your site linking to other pages experiencing ranking drops
For lost or broken inbound links, you’ll need to determine the source and the reason for the broken links. You’ll then decide whether to remove, retain or replace them. You should check each link individually to guide your next course of action.
Links removed intentionally indicate they weren’t natural and could have been flagged or penalized by Google, so you should remove them. Changed or broken links could have been due to a site update. You can convince the site owner to restore them.
For replaced internal links, you may consider linking to the new source. You can prevent future link loss from harming your website by using a rank tracker to monitor your backlink profile.
This way you can get regular updates regarding broken, lost, or spammy backlinks enabling you to take swift action before your rankings drop.
3. Broken Redirects
You’re likely to experience a sudden drop in traffic if you’re launching a new website, moving to a new server, or conducting an internal link structure. You can mitigate the rankings drop by implementing a 301 redirect. Still, you need to ensure that you update all your canonical tags, links, and XML sitemaps.
A 301 redirect notifies search engines that a page, a couple of pages, or your entire website has been moved. Further, you’re requesting that your traffic be directed to the new address,
When you implement a 301 redirect correctly, your rankings will remain intact, and you won’t get a penalty for duplicate content since your old and new web addresses will be indexed.
4. You’re a Victim of Manual Penalty
A sudden decline in traffic could result from a Google manual penalty.
Manual penalties, as the name suggests, are applied manually. They’re different from penalties caused by algorithmic updates.
You can know if you’re a victim of a manual penalty if your website continues to rank on other search engines like Bing and Yahoo. The best way to deal with a manual penalty is to get it removed by fixing the problem that caused it in the first place.
So, that by looking for notifications in your Google Search Console dashboard.
Look for warnings in the message menu and the Manual Actions sections. You’ll also find suggestions and info on how to fix the issues.
5. User Experience Changes (UX)
At times, Google tweaks the UX of search pages in ways that are a few clicks away.
It could be a Featured Snippet that topped your blog post in the search engines, driving away your traffic.
Or it could be a search experiment that has affected your clickthrough rate, triggering a dramatic drop in traffic.
Whatever the cause, be sure to check what search phrases have dropped to see if there’s anything you can do.
6. Duplicate Content
According to Google, duplicate content contains noticeable blocks of content that appear across or within domains that are similar to or entirely match other content.
Such content is always regarded as malicious and doesn’t always lead to a sudden decline in traffic.
However, when content is clearly and intently duplicated to manipulate and trigger an increase in traffic, your website will get penalized. Bad content means that your content competes for similar queries. If Google believes a search term should be more diverse, it’ll penalize one of those pages.
In extreme cases, you can experience an indexing issue, with your site being complex removed from Google’s index. Speaking for content, low quality or thin content can also cause a manual penalty.
Put differently; your content quality should be top-notch to avoid rankings drop.
Always aim for high quality content that attracts user engagement.
7. Algorithm Changes
Google is constantly implementing strategies to fine-tune results through algorithm changes.
Many sites have experienced huge declines in traffic due to algorithm changes.
You can avoid being a victim by leveraging a solid cross-marketing and traffic strategy that encompasses social media and a host of other marketing channels.
8. Your Source of Traffic
Yes, your traffic source can propagate rank drops. Keep in mind that your traffic covers more than people who land on your websites. It also includes the number of pages clicked and the time a visitor spends on each page.
Sources of traffic may include:
The best traffic source is the one that generates the highest user engagement, the lowest bounce rate, and a high conversion rate. Your traffic can decline if it’s coming from sources outside organic search. For instance, when a change affects how Facebook or Twitter treats links.
You can monitor direct traffic statistics on your Google Analytics dashboard. If you want to boost direct traffic, work on creating a brand that resonates with your target audience.
On top of that, create high-quality content that cements your position as a thought leader in your industry.
9. Page Speed
Your site’s load times impact ranking and your visitor’s user experience. When a page takes longer to load, the ripple effect is higher bounce rates because visitors aren’t interested in seeing your content.
You can see your website’s page speed via Google’s revamped PageSpeed tool.
The tool ranks pages as fast, slow, or average, depending on the load times.
10. Server Problems
If your website’s server is experiencing server issues, it may be due to an empty markup served to Googlebot or a broken caching function. When this happens, you’ll want to resolve the problem as soon as possible.
You troubleshoot server issues by looking for errors in your server logs. You can also use Google’s Fetch and Render tool to check how your website’s URL renders or if it’s crawled.
The Bottom Line
Sure, your website may experience sudden traffic declines. But, you can correct the issues to start drawing traffic once again.
If you’re experiencing a drop in traffic, we can conduct a quick site audit to help you pinpoint the problem. In addition, we’ll suggest quick fixes to stop further declines.
Book a consultation session today and have one of our experts look at your website.