Your numbers are chugging along predictably, perhaps even climbing for stretches, when you notice an abrupt change. Suddenly, the number of people visiting your website plummets, and you feel as though you’re in a ghost town. Where has everyone gone? Why are your pages performing so badly? What’s changed? Diagnosing a sudden drop in website traffic isn’t as tricky as you might think. So before you panic, take a deep breath and look for a logical solution. Once you discover the root of the problem, you can repair the damage and restore your search traffic to its former glory.
Diagnosing a Sudden Drop in Website Traffic
If your web traffic has plummeted, ask yourself the following questions to pinpoint the issue. Diagnosing a sudden drop in website traffic may require a bit of sleuthing, so put on your detective’s hat, pull up your data, and get ready to investigate.
Is this really happening?
Before you lose your cool, check the data to be sure that the drop in traffic is genuine. Can you trust the data? Did you input the right date range? Are you completely missing data on certain days? If a data error exists, you can typically spot it with a bit of probing. In addition, remember that this could be a normal variance. Web traffic goes up and down every day, sometimes for no discernible reason.
Is something wrong with your website’s functionality?
If your website isn’t functioning properly, visitors won’t be able to reach it. Check for a domain problem, a mechanical issue, broken links, or any other functional error. Although it may be frustrating to find such an issue, you can rest easy knowing that once you fix it, your traffic will return to normal.
Did Google update its algorithm?
Google changes its algorithm 500-600 times a year. Although most algorithm updates have a minimal effect (if any) on most websites, a far-reaching update could dramatically impact your web traffic. Check our blog or SEO news resources like Moz, Search Engine Land, and Yoast to determine if a major algorithm update has occurred. You can find a full list of known algorithm updates on Moz.
Is the problem isolated to a specific segment of your website?
What is the extent of the problem? If you can isolate the specific segment of your website that has been impacted, you may be able to pinpoint a solution. For example, is traffic down on both desktops and mobile devices? Are people not visiting a certain type of page – product pages, category pages, blog posts, your homepage?
Are you being penalized by Google?
A webmaster’s worst nightmare: being penalized by Google. According to Ahrefs, Google most often penalizes websites for over-aggressive SEO techniques that attempt to manipulate the search engine’s results. So if you’re engaging in shady optimization tactics, sometimes called “black hat” SEO, like buying links or creating enormous link schemes, we urge you to reconsider. Be sure to check Google Search Console to see if you’ve received any messages related to a penalty.
Did you recently change your website in a critical way?
Think back over the changes you’ve made to your website recently. What’s the last item you changed? Could it have majorly disrupted your website’s traffic? Maybe you forgot to write 301 redirects after deleting pages. Perhaps you need to reorganize your website’s architecture. Maybe your recent copy edits are harming your website’s success. If you did the damage, chances are you can fix it.
Has a specific traffic source greatly declined?
Still having trouble diagnosing a sudden drop in web traffic? Review your website’s specific traffic sources. You might find that only one source of traffic has greatly declined, whether that’s direct, referral, organic, paid, or social. Once you identify the source, you can troubleshoot the dip in traffic. If your direct traffic has fallen, for example, it’s possible that your greatest competitor is stepping up their game. If your organic traffic has fallen, maybe you should check to see if you’ve been penalized by Google.
Have you lost backlinks or referring domains?
Do backlinks serve as the backbone for your website’s traffic? Do you only have a few valuable backlinks supporting your website? Check your backlinks and referring domains to see if they’ve been removed or are inaccessible, because that could really hurt your website’s visibility and traffic. If you have lost backlinks, try to identify the reason why so that you can remedy the situation.
Of course, these aren’t the only reasons you could have experienced a drop in web traffic. Did a competitor best you? Has the SERP changed? Are some of your pages not being indexed? Is your Search Engine Marketing (SEM) traffic eating your SEO traffic?
If you need help diagnosing a sudden drop in website traffic, contact 417 Marketing for help. Our team of knowledgeable, creative, and passionate professionals specializes in SEO, web design and maintenance, and Google AdWords, and we have successfully completed over 700 websites since our inception in 2010. Click here to contact us and learn more about what we can do for your company.