19 reasons for the sudden drop in website traffic
The most common cause of a sudden drop in website organic search traffic is the recent update of the search algorithm. Penalties, redirects, inaccurate robot.txt Rules, and ranking losses are all the reasons why you might see a drop in website traffic.
Luckily, in most cases, if you are hit by a sudden drop in traffic, there are a few things you can check beyond what I mentioned above. Hopefully, in the end, you’ll be able to diagnose why things might change.
Here are 19 points I want to check if I notice that a website is getting lower monthly visits or a sudden drop in traffic:
- Algorithm Update Changes
Google doesn’t shy away from the fact that it releases multiple updates throughout the year. However, an easy way to gauge if your site has been affected by algorithm updates is to closely monitor confirmed changes from Google itself.
But, by far, the easiest way to get information about algorithmic changes is to use tools like Mozcast – from Moz.com or from SEMrush, or follow those who follow analysis and coverage. Algorithm update like Barry Schwartz (follow him on Twitter)
- Tracking errors: Tracking code errors
Even now, I am amazed that so many webmasters and website owners are managing their tracking code missing/error off the site and wonder why the traffic is coming.
Luckily, it’s a bug that can be easily fixed, but in the long run, you’ll miss out on data – so the faster you spot this and sort it out the better!
If you notice that there are suddenly no sessions recorded in Google Analytics or the Deactivation Tag, it is most likely that the tracking codes have errors or have been removed entirely. If you have access, check to make sure the code is present and correct.
Alternatively, contact your developer and confirm that the tracking code is where it should be and working.
- Robot: The robot.txt rule is incorrect
Are you sure your website is not blocking search engines from crawling in the robot.txt file?
It’s not uncommon for developers to leave the robot.txt files unchanged after migrating from a demo development site to a real running domain.
- Redirect: Redirect error
301 redirects are like changing the address message for the web. This message tells search engines that a page, a few pages, or your entire site have been moved. You are asking your website visitors to be sent to your new address and not to your old address.
Whenever you add a new permanent redirect (301 Redirect) to your website, I recommend testing it before pushing it into a real runtime environment, even more, if you add a large amount. navigation.
If you are launching a new website, moving to a new host, or making any structural changes to your website, unless you have a proper 301 redirect plan, you can see your rankings. I dropped.
When using 301 redirects, you must ensure that the XML Sitemap, Canonical tag, and link are updated as well.
To make sure the redirects still work as expected, I just use a web crawler (my preference is Screaming Frog) and use list mode (Mode> List) URL books are being redirected and crawled, then parse the response code and the final destination:
- Crawl: Crawl error
Using the new Search Console, open the Index Report and check any URLs with Errors.
Any URLs in the coverage report with errors related to them will not be indexed. Typical errors found in this report include:
URLs are blocked by robots.txt
URLs are marked with noindex tag
Soft 404 error
URL that returned an unauthorized request
URLs cannot be located (404s)
- Ranking: Falling keyword rankings
Another really common reason to see a drop in website traffic is the loss of organic rankings.
Now, if you are monitoring your performance with a ranking tracker, then fixing this issue will be a lot easier. If you don’t, then using the data from the Search Console would be your best option.
I use the following procedure to get an idea of any ranking changes:
Using Google Analytics and Search Console or your preferred ranking tracking tool, determine when traffic starts to drop.
Export (export) ranking keywords before and after a decrease
Use Excel or G Sheets to create a table and paste in the data side by side
Compare position changes
Retarget ditches its terms with keyword research and mapping
- Backlink: Loss of incoming link (backlink)
Another reason why website rankings can drop is that you have lost links.
Check your website for links that have been lost in the last 90 days using a tool like Majestic or Ahrefs.
CognitiveSEO also offers a free backlink checker that will generate near real-time information where you can analyze your link profile.
If you find that you have lost a lot of links, this could be the reason you have dropped your rankings. You will need to dig deeper into more specifics about lost links, such as:
Is the sitewide link?
Are the lost links located on the same page of the website where you saw the rankings drop?
Has there been a drop in backlinks to your pages losing rankings?
Do you see dropped backlinks to pages on your website that link to other lower-ranking pages?
If the backlinks to your website are broken or lost, you will need to determine exactly where those links are coming from and why they are broken. You can then remove, replace, or keep them.
- Unnatural link: Poor quality link penalty
Not all links are created equal. If you use risky, spammy, or outdated link building strategies, Google will penalize your site.
Google very clearly states what it considers a low-quality link in the first paragraph on the help section of their search console called the Link schema.
Any link that intends to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of the link scheme and violates Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any manipulation of links to your website or outbound links from your site.
Take the time to develop a high-quality link building strategy to avoid Google penalties and increase your organic search traffic.
Some suggestions for good link building:
Repair your broken links by building new and valuable links.
Use PR to be quoted in online content or article.
Write special content and promote it as much on social media so that people can find it.
- Change Sitemap
If you’re an SEO, you’ll know (hopefully) that only URLs that return 200 responses and is indexable will show up in your sitemap, unless you intentionally left URLs passed down. directions to make sure that search engines find them faster.
One reason you might see a drastic drop in traffic is a change in your XML sitemap.
Crawl the sitemap URLs and make sure they all return 200 OK responses, and any new landing pages or posts are included. If your site contains 200 URLs and only has 50 in the sitemap, you will want to re-create and resubmit the Sitemap using Search Console.
- Manual action: Manual action and penalty
Manual action will be taken against your website if one of the reviewers finds content on the website that goes against Google’s guidelines. You can find more information on their webmaster guidelines here.
Whether your penalty is manual or automatic, you’ll want to fix the problem and remove it.
You can see if your site has been affected by manual actions by using the manual action report in Search Console.
- Indexing: The URL is not indexed
Google recently tweeted about a reported ‘indexing’ error that caused websites to see important pages appear to be removed from the index almost overnight. But this is not just a recent issue.
Finding those critical URLs that are no longer available in search results can be a big factor when investigating sudden website traffic loss.
Check the index coverage report in Search Console for any errors
Using the URL inspection tool, check if important pages are still in the index
If not, use the ‘REQUEST INDEXING’ option in Search Console
- Keyword conflicts (Keywords cannibal)
If you’ve recently created a lot of new content around a particular topic without considering keyword targeting, you may have unintentionally fallen victim to keyword stealing.
Cannibalization occurs when a web page appears on a keyword with multiple URLs. For example, Ahrefs.com has a lot of content around the broken link building:
If the traffic is spreading across multiple pages or posts, you could lose valuable traffic. The easiest way that I’ve found to highlight keyword cannibal errors is through the use of BigMetrics.io and the keyword cannibal report.
Just create an account (trial or paid version) and connect it to the Search Console property and export.
- Change the SERP layout
A recent change in the way Google and search engines display organic results can have an impact on your traffic levels. So, make sure that you are adaptable and ready to make the changes to optimize search engine results page visibility.
Google, in particular, has made some changes to the way results are displayed; showing a Featured Snippet, Knowledge Graph and making ads stand out more to name certain people, frustrating SEO agencies and experts.
In the screenshot above you’ll see that before you see any signs of organic results, you need to compete with Ads, Knowledge Graphs, Featured Snippets, and Suggestions. by Google. This doesn’t even take into account some of the other SERP features.
Analyze the keywords that you are targeting; Just because they’ve enabled the SERP feature doesn’t mean they don’t now. The AccuRanker SERP Checker is great for this.
If the keywords you target are triggering featured snippets and instant answers, and you’re not a featured snippet, you’ll lose clicks and traffic to your website.
- Competitive: Competition from other websites
Maybe you’re doing everything right but still losing traffic and seeing a drop in your rankings. One reason for this could be that your competitors are doing a better job.
Follow your competitors by analyzing and monitoring their social media performance, link building strategy, and Content marketing.
You can use tools like the Wayback Machine or Versionista to see the changes your opponent has made.
Once you understand what your competitors have done to outdo you, make some of the same changes – just make them better.
- Pagespeed: Page speed
The speed at which content loads on your pages will not only affect your rankings, but also the user experience of your website visitors.
When pages take longer to load, bounce rates are higher because people don’t want to wait to see your content.
To test your page speed, try using Google’s new and improved PageSpeed Engine. The tool has been refurbished to incorporate real user data. Pages rank fast, slow, and average depending on how fast they load.
Test your website slowly and improve its loading speed soon!
To improve page speed, you should see instructions: Guide to optimize page load speed
- Recent website change & redesign
If you decide to redesign your website, what this could do is lose traffic and rankings you worked so hard to build.
Some specific steps you might not hurt but even help with your rankings are:
Make sure all of your 301 redirects are mapped correctly. If there is a change of URL.
Check the topology of your internal links to make sure they work correctly on your new website.
Before launching your new website, get some basic metrics reports like ranking tracking, website auditing, traffic, and page URL mapping.
With careful planning and attention to the essential components of a redesign project, you’ll avoid a negative impact on your SEO and rankings and possibly even improve.
- Duplicate Content: Duplicate Content
Google defines duplicate content as significant blocks of content that appear on or in significantly similar domains, or completely match other content.
This is not always considered to be deceptive or malicious and does not always result in lower search engine rankings.
When the content is clearly intentionally duplicated to manipulate rankings and increase traffic, your website gets penalized.
Your rankings will suffer, and in the worst-case scenario, your website can be completely removed from the Google index and will no longer be found in search.
- Unsafe website, containing malware
Google Chrome will warn visitors about unsafe websites. When they see the message, they can’t visit your site. And you will lose a significant amount of your traffic.
- Website hacked, malicious code attached
When hacked, there will be “unauthorized” links and pages placed on your site. They will adversely affect website ranking.
One of the ways to detect a hacked website is to check the indexing section on Google Search Console to see if there are pages that have been indexed that were not created by you.
The case is harder to control when hackers gain unauthorized access and embed malicious code on the website that causes your page to be removed from the index in search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.
Please regularly check and resolve this issue as soon as it is discovered.
Seeing a drop in website traffic can be difficult to pinpoint, but there’s always a reason why and if there’s a reason, it can often be fixed.
If you see a sudden drop it could be due to some combination reason, or even just one page of major traffic has been lost from the index.
Make sure to thoroughly examine any possible causes, and that you will have a quick plan on how to fix it.