A nightmare no one asks for: a sudden drop in organic traffic.
Thousands of marketers spend hours executing their content marketing strategy, creating engaging copy and compelling images each day. They create websites with beautiful layouts and build funnels with the best practices. They test everything from content length to headlines to calls-to-action–all for the sake of getting organic traffic.
Then, all of a sharp and traumatizing sudden, not a single person visits your website.
But what is going on? Is there a technical issue with your site? Or is it simply a temporary blip, and you can expect things to return to normal after the next few days?
Let’s take a look at five common causes of this problem and how you can troubleshoot them.
Table of Contents
1. Google Algorithm Change
Woke up at the wrong side of the bed this morning? Wake up to a major update of the Google algorithm that basically makes all your SEO efforts useless? Does your SEO company need to go back to school?
OK, that might be a bit of an exaggeration. But seemingly out of nowhere, your organic traffic might drop like a rock. The reason? Google or its search engines update their algorithm hundreds of times a year, and most of these updates are minor and don’t affect your site much. But sometimes, major changes might cause search results to change dramatically and suddenly.
In reality, Google updates its algorithm several times every single day. In fact, it seems that there is a different update every day, which means you could experience several algorithm changes per week.
Therefore, even if your search traffic is showing a drop in organic traffic, it’s likely to return to normal after the next several days. The only exception is a big Google update. In that case, you need to make a comprehensive analysis of the update and figure out how it impacts your site specifically.
2. Lost Links
Whoa! Your favorite site suddenly disappears from the index. Although Google usually doesn’t remove a website from their results except for some major violations (e.g., selling links or using black hat tactics), your backlinks can naturally change over time.
For example, your competitors might acquire a lot of new links while you haven’t, which will hurt your rankings. Or you might have forgotten to update one of your social profiles, and it went dead, causing your link to no longer count.
Lost links are annoying and difficult to track. So, the best way to find them is to use a backlink analysis tool such as Ahrefs Site Explorer (free 30-day trial) or Moz Pro. You can quickly scan your domain and identify all broken links with these tools.
Once you have identified the lost links, update them or remove them from your site.
3. Slow-Paced Content
In most cases, a strong website with large traffic will increase organic traffic reasonably fast. Given enough time, your website will get more than a thousand visitors per day, and the organic traffic will start to grow exponentially.
However, the process is quite different for some sites: it can take up to 6 months or even years. During the initial stages, it’s vital to provide engaging content with fresh content appearing every day. If your site is slow-paced and doesn’t generate new content for weeks or months, it will harm your organic traffic.
How to check? Use Google Analytics Report. In this report, you can view how many people visit your site at different times of the day. You can also check for slow-paced content by looking for low bounce rate, low session duration and low average session duration (how long do people stay on your website).
By doing so, you will understand if your content is slow-paced. If you have a lot of low-quality content, consider removing it and replacing it with fresh and engaging material.
4. Google Penalty
There are several reasons why you can get penalized by the Google algorithm: duplicate content, keyword stuffing, ad cloaking, etc.
If you have made any changes to your site and haven’t checked to see if your site has been penalized yet, it’s time to take action.
How will you find out if you have been penalized by Google? You can use a few tools to check, including:
- Check Google Console for messages from Google Search Console.
- Use SEMrush. Go to their Site Audit and type in your site URL. Check for Page Issues and Manual Actions.
- Use Ahrefs Site Explorer or Moz Pro to scan your site for possible rules violations (e.g., duplicate content)
If you get penalized at one point, it’s best to focus on removing the violation and then wait. Even if the site takes longer, you will still recover once all the problems are fixed. Also, keep in mind that you can get a penalty for different reasons, such as having duplicate content, which is quite easy to fix.
5. Your Competitors Are Winning
One word: competition.
Competitors invest in content marketing, and you are not. They have better design, better usability, better conversion rates, better landing pages. And they’re all making you look bad. They are getting more conversions than you, thus getting more traffic from search engines.
That sharp decline in organic traffic is because your competitors are constantly getting better at SEO, and you’re not. As a result, you cannot keep up with the competition.
It’s time to step up your game. Take a look at the search engine result page (SERP) and analyze why your competitor’s website is on top of yours.
It’s either because they have more authority (e.g. more backlinks) or more engagement with users (e.g., better landing pages, better usability, etc.).
The good news is that you can fix it. In addition, there are now tons of tools that you can use to get more authority (e.g., Ahrefs Site Explorer) and increase user engagement (e.g., Google Optimize).
The Key Takeaway
Remember the adage: “Don’t make excuses; make your best case.” And don’t panic. Instead of freaking out about the decline in organic traffic, focus on the ways you can recover from it.
Start by analyzing what caused the decline. Then you have to fix it. And then wait for a few days to a week and see if there is any change. Then, finally, seek professional help from a credible SEO company in Manila if the decline persists. Contact us for a free consultation.
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