Seeing your web traffic suddenly drop away is a painful and frustrating experience.
There can be any number of reasons for the fall, but one thing is for sure, it hasn’t happened by accident. So in this article, we are going to look at the 10 most common reasons we see for SEO traffic dropping away and what you can do to fix it.
1. Lost backlinks
Despite recent changes to Google’s ranking algorithm, Organic link building is still one of the most important aspects of search engine optimisation. But building and maintaining backlinks is hard work. And once you have earned a nice juicy backlink from a high authority site, there is no guarantee that it will remain in place.
High profile sites often remove old and outdated content to keep their sites fresh. If one of these pages happens to contain a link to your site, you are likely to suffer a small but insignificant drop in search traffic. Should this happen on several high profile sites, however, you will start to see the effects on daily traffic numbers.
There are several free tools out there you can use to check backlinks such as Ahrefs or SEMRush to name a couple. These tools allow you to monitor who is linking to your website and which links have been removed. If you notice a site has removed your links it’s best to then contact them to get it reinstated.
2. Algorithm changes
This is probably the first place people look when they see a fall in organic traffic. But the reality is, so long as you have been doing SEO the right way, no algorithm change is going to make that much difference to your organic traffic. It’s a different story if you’ve carried out some blackhat SEO strategies to get your site ranked unnaturally.
That’s why you should avoid using any blackhat strategy, that may work for a short time but will eventually get caught by Google’s search boffins. To insulate yourself from this issue, you should develop an effective cross-channel search strategy which encompasses sound SEO strategies that do not contravene any rules.
That might not sound sexy, and it may take a little longer to see results, but it’s the only real way of building a solid online business in the long term. If you would like to see how we create effective search engine optimisation campaigns for our clients, check out our SEO strategy to grow our client’s businesses.
3. Broken redirects
If you have recently relaunched or redesigned your website and have seen a drop in search rankings, broken redirects are probably one of the causes. It is therefore important when moving or changing a site that you have an effective 301 redirect plan in place to maintain all the backlinks you have worked hard to develop.
A 301 redirect is effectively a change of address notification for the web browser. It tells the browser where the content has moved to and automatically redirects them there. Using 301 redirects properly can also help reduce duplicate content issues because search engine crawlers won’t index both old and new pages.
4. Link penalties
If you have been using blackhat SEO practices to build backlinks and have seen organic search traffic fall away suddenly, the chances are that you have been hit by a link penalty. Link penalties vary from automatically applied algorithmic penalties to those applied manually by the search engine moderators.
Manually applied penalties are easy to identify because you’ll be notified that unnatural links have been found in your link profile. You will then have to remove or disavow them through Google Search Console, before submitting your site for approval. This process can take up to four weeks, but you will eventually see a recovery in your rankings.
Algorithmically applied penalties are harder to identify but it is possible by correlating a fall in search ranking traffic with an update to Google’s algorithm. You can check Google’s algorithm update history via Moz to help you maintain valuable ranking positions. If you think you have been hit by an algorithmic penalty you would need to remove any suspect low-quality links or disavow them in Google Webmaster Tools. But it may take several weeks/months before your rankings can recover.
5. You’re being outranked
There is a scenario where you have been doing everything right and are still seeing organic traffic drop. The reason for this could be increased competition from other websites. The only way to get those rankings back, assuming they have not been achieved using blackhat strategies, is to do a better job of ranking your site within SERP results.
If you do see a site take your position in the organic listings. Try to analyze the site to see what they have done to improve their rankings. It could be they have achieved a high-quality backlink or two, or they may have implemented a new website design to improve internal linking. Whatever they have done, try to identify it and then do a better job on your site.
6. Your website is slow
Google has been using Page Speed as a ranking factor for desktop searches since 2010 and mobile searches since 2018. So if your website is slow to load you are sure to have been hit by a ranking penalty. A slow website will also impact the user experience and result in lower conversion rates.
This will show you how fast your web pages are loading and provide handy information about what you need to do to improve your site’s performance. Find out ways to increase the speed of your website and stay ahead of your competitors.
7. Poor technical SEO
Technical SEO is the work that is done on your website to make it easier for search engine crawlers to index. Technical SEO has come a long way from the meta tags and site maps we used to use to rank sites. Today’s site crawlers are sophisticated bots which look at the quality of content, internal links, page speed, canonical tags and more.
Some of the biggest problems we find here include missing links, duplicate content, canonical errors and missing alt tags for images. If you would like to know how well your website is constructed from a technical SEO perspective get in touch with us and we’ll carry out a FREE SEO audit to identify any technical issues which may be affecting your ranking.
8. High bounce rate
Search engines like to see high levels of engagement when users visit your site. So if you have a high ‘bounce rate’ i.e people leave after only a few seconds. This sends a warning signal that your site either doesn’t meet the intent of the search query, is poorly designed or your content is of poor quality.
Google and other search engines have never specifically admitted that they use the ‘bounce rate’ as a ranking factor. But the fact that it can be easily measured and is a good indicator of whether you are delivering a good user experience shows this is something you should be considering. Find out tips on what makes a good website design that keeps users engaged.
9. Not optimised for location
Search engines are getting better at delivering results based on location. This is because more searches are being carried out on mobile devices where location forms are a key aspect of the query. So if your site is not properly optimised for location-based searches you will see a large drop-off in traffic from mobile devices.
So make sure your website is optimised for the town or city where you are based. If you have multiple locations you will need to optimise pages for these too. Also, make sure your business name, address and phone number (NAP) are listed correctly on your website, directory listings and social media channels.
10. Poor internal navigation
Internal links tell search engines how important various pages are on your website. They also help users find the information they need. So a poor linking structure can impact both the user experience and search listings. It’s therefore important that you develop an internal linking structure to connect all your pages coherently.
The best way to achieve this is to manage internal link value by structuring keyword-rich links around specific topics. Don’t spray internal links around randomly, limit them to high-value pages and ensure they take the user on a journey. The more you structure your internal links around relevant content, the more benefit you will get.
Implement the right SEO strategy to perform
As you can see from this list the primary causes of lost organic traffic are black hat SEO strategies and poor web development functionality. Fortunately, both of these can be easily fixed by enlisting the services of a knowledgeable and trustworthy digital marketing agency.
If you have suffered a drop in search ranking traffic and would like help restoring it to previous ranking positions contact us at Design Point today.