Diagnosing A Reduction In Search Engine Traffic


Webmasters have endless access to data regarding their own websites. From viewing traffic sources to analysing visitor demographics, the access to data can be overwhelming for many. So let’s look at website traffic and help how to spot a drop in traffic within the search engine results pages. When traffic suddenly drops, one thing that’s clear is that there will be a solution to the problem. For example many online retailers rely on traffic and customers, if traffic drops then finding the problem is vital.

So what diagnostic measures can one take after discovering a drop in traffic or to possibly identify this?. First and foremost it’s important to discover the source of the problem. To begin try viewing Google Analytics to help discover the problem. For instance is it only organic traffic or is it paid search? By viewing each, it will soon become visible which traffic is being directly affected.

For those who do not often use Google Analytics, or any other website analytic tools, it would be worth learning. Because this tool can help you become pro-active at viewing any possible changes to page views or increased bounce rates, and in doing so can help improve your website and identify where current problems may exist.

Here’s another tip that could help highlight a possible problem, simply filter analytics by organic traffic only. Many websites will receive the majority of traffic from brand queries. By doing this can help display queries driven by organic traffic. If the results are low, then by increasing SEO work will no doubt help improve these figures. Or by comparing data by year-on-year for example can help identify possible changes in markets and possible trends.

Also, to what extent has traffic fallen?, has traffic suddenly hit a cliff edge and disappeared over night or has it been a gradual problem that has been hemorrhaging, i.e. getting worse each month. Sudden drops could mean that there has been changes made to the robots.txt file that impacts how the search engine crawlers index a website. Has there been a website design that involved URL migration? If so has the Google Analytics code been removed. Although not impacting a website as previously thought, the data will have been lost.

Last but not least if the above is true and traffic has sudden disappeared over night, and there are no other possible explanations then it could be a result of the website being penalized by the search engine. For instance, Google has a notification area within Webmaster Tools to help notify each webmaster when a penalty has been applied. With the many changes being made each year to search engine algorithms it’s vital to stay up-to-date, just recently there has been an update tackling websites that have been taking part in link farms and schemes. Make sure only ethical link building techniques are being used and that by following the webmaster guidelines no penalty will ever be issued.

Don’t think this is all that can be done to diagnose or identify problems in traffic, another area that can be further investigated is keyword traffic. To view possible keywords that are bringing in the most traffic compared to last month and even last year, within Google Analytics. This can also be used to assist future link building and search engine optimisation campaigns.

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