Suddenly losing website traffic or a even slow decline in traffic over time almost always indicates that there is either an issue with your website, search engine optimization (SEO) issues, or some other external factor. To be aware of losses in traffic you must first be monitoring the activity on the site (likely using Google Analytics) and if you want to catch something like this quickly, you must know what the trends in your website activity look like.
Here are 4 Common Reasons You Might Lose Website Traffic
Is Google Analytics Working Properly?
What you think might be a traffic loss might just be an issue with the tracking code placement or the tracking code itself. You might think that just logging into Google Analytics and checking what’s there might be the best route, however there are times when Google Analytics will tell you data is being received, but that won’t give you the full story. There are possibilities that would not be recognized automatically by Google Analytics such as:
- Has the tracking code been removed from a portion of the website?
- Is there a problem with the placement of the code?
- If you use a WordPress, are you using a plugin to insert the Google Analytics code? If so…it could be an issue with the plugin.
Some of these you may have to get your developer involved to help you answer, but it’s the best logical first step if you see a sudden traffic loss.
Solution: After finding the root of the problem, get it fixed. Because there are so many scenarios I’m unable to provide a specific solution, but the code must be on every page you want to track and it must be firing properly.
Have There Been Significant Changes With Your Website?
If you have made big changes to your website or have recently completed a website overhaul, this may be the root of the problem. If you made big changes in regards to new pages that now have a different location such as http://yourwebsite.com/This-File-Name.html to http://yourwebsite.com/ThisFileName.html this may be causing an issue with the search engine. They have indexed the previous location and are not aware of the move. The old URL will be indexed for a short time, but even if someone clicks the search result they will get a 404 error, meaning that old website file can no longer be found.
If you’ve just gone through an overhaul, your pages may have changed completely. For example you may have originally had http://yourwebsite.com/This-File-Name.html but with the new website you use http://yourwebsite.com/This-File-Name.php because there is different technology powering the site. This can cause significant search engine and referral traffic losses.
Solution: Using something called a 301 redirect, ensure that all of your old pages are being mapped to your new pages. In most cases this will require some professional support.
Have You Been Penalized By a Search Engine?
This situation would be less common than some of the others, but it does happen. Current focus on search engine penalties are geared around duplicate content issues and link spam. In most cases someone has consciously made an effort to trick the search engines to improve search traffic, but keep in mind, the website owner may not always know this. If you’ve ever hired a vendor to do SEO or link building you may want to check into what they have done. They may have used “black hat” SEO methods to inflate results without the business owner even knowing it. This situation is more common than you’d think.
Solution: First, if you are using Google Webmaster tools, check there to see if there are any warning messages. Second, find out if your loss of traffic correlates with a Google Algorithm update. Third, contact a pro.
Do You Have An Underlying SEO Problem?
Search engine optimization (SEO) helps you generate more traffic from search engines, so if there’s a problem with your SEO that could be the root of the problem. Even if what you had done in the past for SEO was successful, that doesn’t mean it’s going to work forever. It’s also possible that your SEO was never really working that well for you to begin with. The traffic loss you are seeing might just be your norm and instead you were just seeing falsely inflated traffic. There are times where you just end up ranking for something, but if it’s not truly relevant that won’t last forever.
Solution: Look into the SEO health of your website. You can start by doing a self audit or checklist, but if you aren’t confident in your knowledge about SEO it’s definitely worth reaching out to a pro.
Don’t let a traffic loss significantly impact your business. Get to the root of the problem as quickly as possible and take the steps to get back on track!