A Search Engine Optimization campaign usually leads to a gradual increase in traffic to your website. If your optimizers are getting it right you will see quality traffic coming until you reach a threshold where you don’t experience a quantum jump in traffic growth any longer. There are dozens of factors that play role in your traffic growth and it is obvious that your SEO strategy may not be offering the kind of dividends that you expect. This isn’t worrying and will only require you to revamp your SEO strategy. What is worrying though is a sudden drop in traffic. While it may start as a small dip, it could soon snowball into a major problem where your entire website (or some landing pages) may be completely out of bound for the users on the search engines. Here is how you need to troubleshoot this problem.
# Identify If There Is any Manual Penalty
While this isn’t common, it definitely is a good starting point to identify the problem. In case, of a manual penalty, you will witness a steep drop in traffic and rankings. It usually occurs after major algorithmic changes when your existing SEO strategy is seen to adversely affect user experience. This can also happen due to spamming, plagiarized content and other ‘Black Hat’ SEO techniques. There are a number of online tools that you can use to identify manual penalty including Google Search Console.
If you have been able to identify a manual penalty and pinpointed reasons behind it, fix them before appealing to Google for lifting the penalty. This process can usually take weeks and require a stream of communication with Google. However, if you see no signs of manual penalty you should move on to the next stage of identifying and fixing the problem.
# Know Where Problem Lies
It is important for you to identify the root cause behind the problem. Has traffic dropped throughout the website or are some landing pages contributing more to cumulative drop in your traffic? Usually, you would experience the latter case where some pages experience a major drop in traffic and keywords that fetched bulk of the traffic are not delivering the expected results anymore. Here is what you need to do in such an event.
- Take Note of Competition
The most obvious reason behind this is your competitor(s) working on a more comprehensive strategy. Check your rankings for specific keywords that were driving traffic to your site. In the most likely scenario, a new competitor or those known to you may have been running a more aggressive campaign snatching your pole position. Herein you must take the competition head-on or use more specific keyword based on the recent search trends. In some cases, the drop may be less to do with your competitor’s strategy and more due to your chink in the armor wherein your fall has allowed your competitors to rise. In such an event you should move onto the next stage.
- Check Your Link Profile
The quality of links is a major contributing factor for the success of any search engine marketing campaign. If you have spammy links, you are likely to see a drop in traffic. So, use tools such as Moz’s Open Site Explorer to carry out a detailed link audit of your site. If there are links that appear spammy or ones that have been mysteriously added (you are still wondering where they came from) to the site, there could be a drop in traffic. Once you have identified these links, remove them as this should fix the problem. If your link profile is fine you should move over to the next measure to restore the flow of traffic to the site.
- Check Your Content
Poor content is often the biggest culprit behind the drop in traffic. You may have unintentionally removed some top performing content (very unlikely though) or you are publishing new content offering little to the users in terms of information or value. If your recent posts are showing low engagement with your audience you should overhaul your content strategy and invest in quality and informative content. It may be expensive but will pay dividends in the long run.
While there is no shortcut to resolving fall in organic traffic the above approach will help you deal with the problem in majority cases.