Website traffic is definitely important for every business and losing it does hurt, sometimes a bit too much. There are a couple of ways to find out whats causing the dip in traffic.
In order to check traffic drop, we need to find out exactly what kind of traffic is the website losing, in order to do so simply open up Google Analytics, and click on Acquisition then click All Traffic then Channels. This will give you a breakdown of all of your traffic sources and you will know which section to focus on.
I always start with the common and simple factors then move on to check the more complex ones, this saves a lot of time and has been successful every time.
Check out the top 15 reasons your website traffic is dropping
Table of Contents
- 1. Google Analytics Tracking Error
- 2. Website changes
- 3. Hosting downtime
- 4. Google Algorithm Updates
- 5. Google penalty
- 6. Drop in SERP’s
- 7. Increased 404 errors
- 8. SSL update
- 9. Poor on-page SEO
- 10. Non-optimized ads
- 11. Mobile compatibility issue
- 12. Broken backlinks
- 13. Negative SEO
- 14. Duplicate Content
- 15. Buying Traffic
1. Google Analytics Tracking Error
We all use Google Analytics to check our traffic and study our websites traffic behavior, however, we need to ensure its working.
Check for a change or issue with the site’s tracking code. Analytics plug-ins or site code changes can frequently cause issues with tracking code and in this manner cause errors in analytics detailing.
I would definitely start with this one and if there is an error simply update the tracking code and you will start seeing the results just like before.
2. Website changes
Did you add a plugin to the website or did you make any design changes to the website recently?
As an incompatible plugin or a heavy website design coding could actually increase the load time on the website making the customers leave instantly which in time would also affect your website rankings and leading to traffic drop.
Website speed is the most important factor to be considered therefore check on the website’s bounce rate if there is a sudden increase in it this would mean that the website definitely has a loading issue.
Try uninstalling the plugin and also make the design code a little more clean to fix this issue.
3. Hosting downtime
I use website monitoring services to keep a track of my website downtime and always get an update as soon as it’s down. I am on a dedicated hosting server thus it’s really rare for this to happen but one can never be sure.
Check your hosting downtime status on your account and check if the hosting company has any updates currently running or if they had an issue keeping the websites online. Normally, when these kinds of things happen, forums and review boards make a lot of noise around the subject. Server downtime can affect your website rankings and traffic but mainly it’s reputation.
I would fix this issue by choosing a better and more reliable hosting provider, there are a lot of them so check for hosting reviews and sign up for a good, but a dedicated hosting server is always preferred.
I also recommend using a cloud hosting service offered by companies like TMD hosting, FastComet.
4. Google Algorithm Updates
We all know that Google is really moody and changes it’s working structure on a regular basis, you cannot blame Google for it as everyone wants to manipulate and dominate it’s weaknesses so its only fair for it to do what it does.
The history shows that each time Google updated it’s algorithm a lot of websites lost a potential traffic. When Google Panda was launched every website using copied content was wiped out and recently when Rankbrain came out the history repeated itself.
I would check on the recent Google algorithm changes and modify my site accordingly, by doing so I will have my website rankings and traffic back in a few days.
5. Google penalty
Did you try to fool Google? If yes, then they might have just caught you, apart from the big algorithm changes Google regularly updates itself almost every day and sometimes makes it public and sometimes it does not.
If you have been building links from unnatural places or been buying then or maybe just doing some blackhat SEO tricks, you may just have been penalized for it.
You can easily find the penalty in the Google Webmasters/search console section and find out exactly why you were penalized, also work to fix it.
6. Drop in SERP’s
It’s time to put your ego aside. Check if your competition just defeated you in the rankings game, I use some tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush and Majestic to track my keyword rankings and if they drop I get to know instantly.
You may have a lot of links ranking well on Google and suddenly your competitor found a way to beat your rankings which lead to the drop in ranking.
In the SEO industry, there is no defeat every, there is only analysis and a lot of hard work. So, analyze your competitor and find out how they outranked your website. Once you find it, it will be really easy to get your ranking back and get that lost traffic as well.
7. Increased 404 errors
Use search console or screaming frog to see if any of your old posts or pages are showing 404 errors. Every website updates itself on a regular basis, sometimes its the design, pages, layout, permalinks and tons of other stuff however you may have forgotten to add a 301 redirect to it, resulting in 404 errors.
I love screaming frog for these kinds of issues as it would scan the site and give a list of 404 errors in less than a minute, now all I have to do is add redirects to it or just add the content back to the pages.
If you do not have the content saved, I recommend using the Wayback machine to get a copy of your indexed site from the past, so now just copy and paste it to the page.
8. SSL update
Google recently announced that they will mark every website without an SSL license as non-secure on Google Chrome.
This announcement made a lot of people jump up and get an SSL added to their website, however, there is a procedure behind it, like forgetting to add 301 redirects, not fixing the hardcoded items on the website and few more things.
If you just added an SSL license yourself then make sure you did it by the book as this can lead to a major traffic drop.
9. Poor on-page SEO
SEO is divided into two parts on-page & off-page SEO.
On-page SEO means optimizing your website internally and ensure it has a good and clean internet structure.
You need to ensure that your pages have Meta descriptions in place along with Meta title, Meta tags, schema markup, Call to action etc.
If you do not have them in place that could lead to a traffic drop as well so keep them optimized.
10. Non-optimized ads
Your traffic mainly comes from 4 sources i.e. organic traffic, social media traffic, direct traffic and paid traffic sources.
If you are paying for advertisements say on Google, Facebook or any other network you might want to check on the ad campaign to ensure they are optimized well, normally the prices of the keywords rise and you would have to manually update the ad cost for that particular keyword to get the maximum results.
This is a quick fix so don’t sweat it, just give the ad networks a little more money and you will be on your feet in no time.
11. Mobile compatibility issue
A lot of people have been using mobiles of surfing and looking at this trend Google launched Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) which improves websites performance on mobile devices.
When Google launched AMP it was clear that non-mobile optimized keywords will see a drop in rankings and it proved to a right theory as many sites lost a lot of traffic due to this, therefore you need to check to ensure you do not fall into this list.
All you have to do is ensure that you have a responsive website and your visitors do not have any trouble accessing relevant pages of your website from a mobile device.
12. Broken backlinks
Google always tells us that link building is like trying to manipulate it’s algorithm and always wants us to stay away from it.
One of the reasons why I stopped building links is because they are not permanent, let’s look at this way, you spent a lot of time gathering a bunch of high authority websites and then found a way to put your anchor text on them.
We need to understand that even though we got our link on there but we do not own or manage the site this means the website could die on you and you would lose your links or the website owner may just remove your link or delete that page itself, either way, you will lose your hard work if any of this happens.
Now, you have a bunch of broken backlinks which made the website lose a lot of its authority and leading to website traffic drop.
I would recommend using Ahrefs to fix these as you can easily find your broken backlinks just by clicking on a tab and then contact the website owner in order to get your link back on their website.
13. Negative SEO
Negative SEO is used by companies to bring down their competition, this is more like taking a cheap shot at your opponent.
Your competitor may have built some spammy links for your website and when Google found them they just went all mafia on you, however, Google is a smart cookie and knows these tactics, therefore, they created the disavow tool.
Find the spammy links using link checkers like Ahrefs, SEMrush or Majestic and then visit Google Webmasters, and then go to Tools, and then click on Disavow tool, here you can simply enter the URL of the spammy website.
It would take a few days but eventually, Google will ensure that the particular backlink is not associated with your website and once this is done your traffic will start growing again.
14. Duplicate Content
We already discussed Google’s panda update whose main focus was to kill websites with duplicate content but it’s not that they will penalize you for a single page but if you have too many pages with duplicate content on them that would surely get you banned.
I have seen many such cases where the website owner had no clue about the presence of duplicate content on their website but we found some and when we asked them about the content source, it was a third party content writer they hired to write the content for them.
This can easily be avoided if you use plagiarism checkers like http://plagiarisma.net to ensure the content is not published elsewhere.
Now, the only way to fix this issue is to remove the duplicate content and add some fresh content to it.
15. Buying Traffic
We all want traffic and sometimes we think that getting traffic from organic sources is tough so why not just buy them for a while and get to boost the rankings but honestly it does not work like that.
When you buy traffic from companies promising you that it’s the best way and it’s organic you need to understand that they just want to sell you the service. Google spends millions of dollars on checking their algorithms and to ensure its users get the right data so another small sized firm has no chance to beat that.
Not only this is something you should totally avoid but this also has no value behind it as the paid traffic is generated by a bot designed by the company selling it, therefore these are not real people and they won’t add any human value to your business.
I have had a few clients who came to me who bought traffic but got no results out of it and then decided to move to SEO but the traffic was just not building up, we need to understand that SEO is a process organic process thus takes time to see the results. Once you understand this, simply sit back and let the magic work.