Having your web pages on the first page of Google is euphoric (and great for business)! But ANYONE can experience a sudden drop in traffic that can leave you reeling and wondering what went wrong and more importantly HOW TO FIX IT.
The reasons may not be obvious at all either. SO let’s get to the possible why’s and then how to fix the issue(s).
A Sudden Drop in Traffic can take some digging to figure out the problem
A sudden drop in traffic can be from many different issues. Here are what I’ve found to be the most common reasons for a plummet in website ranking. Check these to see if you can find out the issue and recover your rankings and drive traffic to your website.
Google’s testing their Algorithm
First of all, check the SERP (search engine results page) for the keyword you’ve dropped ranking on. It could be that there is nothing wrong with your content or website, but Google tests its algorithms. In this case, you don’t even have to take any further steps, as the rankings will be restored soon.
If you track your rankings with SEO tools like SEMrush or Serpstat, you can analyze your competitors’ positions as well. It’ll help you understand whether the SERP was changing a lot lately. So whenever you witness a significant drop in your search rankings, you should start with analyzing the whole SERP. If it s just your site being affected it’s most likely an issue with your site or page. If your competitors are affected as well, it’s probably an algorithm test, all you need to do is to wait a bit.
Uh-Oh! It’s just your web page or website that has the issue! Here are some things to check.
Technical SEO affects how search robots crawl and index your site’s content. If you know your website has been optimized for technical SEO, you can run into issues when you add or remove files or pages. Make sure you’re aware of technical SEO issues on your site. Login to your Google Search Console account and use the URL Inspection tool. With this you can check the way search engines see your website.
These are the main factors crucial for your rankings:
- Server overload – If your server isn’t prepared for traffic surges, it can take your site down any minute. To fix this problem, you can add a CDN on your website or cache your content, set up a load balancer, or set up a cloud hosting,
- Page speed – The more the images, files, and pop-ups you add to your content, the more time it takes for your pages to get loaded. Mind that page speed isn’t only a ranking factor, but it also influences user experience. To check how fast your website or web page is loading you can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights, but I prefer GTmetrix. It will show you what issues are going on and to fix them you can:
- Minimize HTTP requests or minify and combine files
- Minimize time to first byte
- Reduce server response time
- Enable browser caching
- Reduce image sizes
- Optimize CSS delivery
- Prioritize above-the-fold content (lazy loading)
- Reduce the number of plugins you use on your site
- Reduce redirects and external scripts
- Monitor mobile page speed
- Redirections – It’s the most common cause of lost rankings. When you migrate to a new server or change the structure of your site, never forget to set up 301 redirects. Otherwise, search engines will either fail to index your new pages or even penalize your site for duplicate content. There are plugins you can install that will automatically add a redirection for you when your remove or rename a web page. You can try RankMath SEO or Yoast Premium for this.
Detecting site errors can be challenging especially if it’s located only on one page. Inspecting every page can be time-consuming and prove to be very costly if you’re running a business. To speed up the process of identifying such errors you can use different SEO tools and site audit tools, like Serpstat, OnCrawl, and other such ones.
Did you do your Keyword Research to determine you using the right keywords? And if you didn’t take into consideration user intent when collecting the keywords, it might have caused some problems. Even if your site was ranking high for these queries for some time, Google could have changed the way it understands your site’s intent.
Here are a couple of examples to illustrate the issue.
There’s a website for Austin Plumber named “austin-plumbing.com” The site didn’t contain any long-form descriptions but services pages. Once Google began to rank the website for queries with informational intent, SEO experts noticed the traffic dropped. After they added more texts to the service pages, they fixed the problem.
This case occurred to a florist. While the website was ranking for transactional queries, everything was alright. Then Google decided the site better suits informational intent. To restore the site’s rankings, SEOs had to add keywords with high transactional intent, such as “order”, “buy”, and many such keywords.
To collect the keywords that are right for your business goals, you can use KWFinder. With the tool, you can identify relevant keywords that you can easily rank for.
This paragraph doesn’t require long introductions. If your content isn’t fresh and up-to-date anymore, people won’t stay long on your site. Moreover, outdated content doesn’t attract shares and links. All these aspects may become good reasons for search engines to reduce your positions.
There’s an easy way to fix it. Update your content regularly and promote it on your social media channels. Trends are always changing, and if you provide a comprehensive guide on a specific topic, you don’t want it to become outdated. Instead of creating a new guide every time, update the old one with new data. This will help your rankings for that page.
Everybody knows your link profile is a crucial part of your site’s SEO. Website owners take efforts to build quality links to the new pieces of content. However, when you managed to earn a large number of backlinks, you shouldn’t stop monitoring your link profile.
To discover whether your link profile has undergone any changes for the last weeks, go with Moz or Majestic. The tools will provide you with data on your lost and discovered links for the selected period.
If you find out you’ve lost the links from trustworthy sources, try to identify the reasons why these links were removed. In case they’re broken, you can always fix them. If website owners removed your links by chance (for example, when updating their websites), then ask them to restore links. If they did it intentionally, no one can stop you from building new ones.
Poor user experience
User experience is crucial for your site’s rankings. If your page started out ranking well, and then Google noticed it didn’t meet users’ expectations, your rankings will most certainly suffer.
Search engines usually rely on metrics such as the click-through rate, time spent on your page, bounce rate, the number of visits, and more. That’s why you should remember the following rules when optimizing your site:
- Provide relevant metadata
As metadata is used to form snippets, it should contain relevant descriptions of your content. First of all, if they aren’t engaging enough, users won’t click-through them and land on your site. On the other hand, if your snippets provide false promises, the bounce rate will increase.
- Create an effective content structure
It should be easy for users to extract the necessary information. Most of your visitors pay attention to your content structure when deciding whether they’ll read the post.Break the texts into paragraphs and denote the main ideas in the subheadings. This step will help you engage visitors looking for the answer to their very specific questions.
- Avoid complicated design and pop-ups
The content isn’t the only thing your audience looks at. People may also decide to leave your website because of irritating colors, fonts, or pop-up ads. Provide simple design and minimize the number of annoying windows.
Competition from other websites
What if none of the steps worked? It might mean that your rankings dropped because your competitors were performing better. Monitor changes in their positions and identify the SERP leaders.
You can analyze your competitors’ strategies with SEMrush or Serpstat. With these tools, you can discover their backlink sources, keywords they rank for, top content, and more. This step will help you come up with ideas of how you could improve your own strategy.
Never stop tracking your rankings!
You can’t predict whether your rankings will drop one day. It’s much better to notice the problem before you’ve already lost traffic and conversions. So, always keep tracking your positions and be ready to react to any changes quickly.
Need Help? Contact me!
If running your business is keeping you too busy to deal with things like website ranking, contact me! I can help.
We can start with an in depth website audit and we can go from there on how to get your website ranking and the traffic you need to grow your business.