SEO Investigations

SEO Investigations for Organic Traffic Drops

Whether it's been a steady decline over the past few months or a sudden drop in organic traffic overnight, there’s usually a reason. If your Google Search traffic is down, we can help diagnose the problem and turn it around.

When a sudden drop in website traffic occurs, it’s a major cause for concern. Sometimes a Google Analytics drop off is merely a tracking issue. (For such cases, we offer Advanced Google Analytics and Tag Manager Audits, Debugging, and Tracking Setup to help this issue).

In other instances, Google traffic is down because there is in fact an SEO problem, and it needs to be assessed. Our SEO investigations are tailored to pinpoint SEO bottlenecks plaguing your organic traffic, and more importantly, fix those issues in an effort to restore major drop offs.

Generally, there are 5 potential factors—especially for steep & sudden traffic drops

When Google traffic is down, especially in cases of steep and sudden drop offs, the cause is generally due to one or more of the following factors:

  • A search engine or Google algorithm update (external factor) - Although algorithm updates occur frequently throughout the week, Google occasionally implements major updates to improve its search results (and crack the whip on sketchy SEO practices).
  • A Google change to the SERP landscape (external factor) - No doubt, the SERPs change almost every day. But over time, you may notice more paid ads above your organic listing, or new certain features that ultimately push your listing further down the page.
  • A change on your website (internal factor) - Sometimes after a website migration or substantial website update, something gets broken (e.g. a plugin added a noindex or nofollow tag to some or all of your pages.) Website design and hosting changes can also influence things like page speed, web vitals, content accessibility, and mobile-responsiveness - which of which can impact SEO.
  • A Google Analytics tracking issue (internal factor) - if you are seeing a sudden Google Analytics drop off across all traffic sources, sometimes the simplest answer is the obvious one. That is - tracking could be broken on some or all of your pages!
  • A Manual Action (internal factor) - A rare but possible case behind a sudden drop off in website traffic is getting penalized. This is when Google has determined that your website has violated its webmaster guidelines, such as blatant keyword stuffing, hidden text, sneaky redirects, and unnatural links to your site.

An SEO Investigation can help you better understand the underlying issue(s) causing your organic traffic drop. We can help determine if a drop in organic rankings is the culprit, and help you prioritize the changes needed to turn the trend around.

Detecting drop offs in organic traffic

For a deeper understanding into the our SEO investigation process, below are common stats we dig into to explore Google traffic issues:

  • Year over year trends (what happened last year?)
  • What's down - digital marketing channels (e.g. social media) & and all traffic sources (e.g. direct traffic), or just organic search traffic?
  • What keyword search rankings and/or pages (or sections of the site) are driving the decline?
  • Are keyword rankings steady, and if not, what's dropping, where? Are click-throughs an issue?
  • If there is a correlation with a Google algorithm change, what happened in that update that might be the culprit?
  • Did you lose any key backlinks? Do you have outstanding broken links that could be redirected? Can we find any evidence of spammy link building?
  • Are there any spikes in crawl errors?
  • Mobile vs. Desktop comparison
  • Web vs. Image vs. Google Discover comparison
  • Branded vs. non-branded keyword review
  • Obvious technical SEO issues: robots.txt file or robots meta blocks, canonical tag issues, is the GA tracking code in place and functional, etc.

In some cases, it can be quick to detect a sudden drop in website traffic. In other cases, it can require an exhaustive look at your site’s entire online footprint. With the proper access, we can clearer look at why a Google traffic drop has occurred.

Need help pinpointing SEO problems and bottlenecks?

If your website has experienced a sudden drop in organic traffic, there’s likely an explanation. We can help you get to the bottom of it. 

SEO investigation projects require the following access and insights:

  • Google Analytics: Everything but User Editing access
  • Google Search Console: Full User permissions
  • Website Insights: What changes have been deployed on your website, on what dates?

We also use several handy 3rd party SEO tools (i.e. Ahrefs, Semrush, ScreamingFrog, etc.) to help get a clearer understanding of the overall health, authority, and trajectory of your site. These tools help us see broken or lost links, top performing pages, organic keywords, potential content gaps, and new opportunities.

Combined with a solid SEO strategy, you’ll be better equipped to rank better in Google Search and start growing organic traffic (instead of struggling to get it back).

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