Logging into your analytics platform and seeing a significant drop in traffic metrics is always an alarming and concerning experience. Take a deep breath, refresh your coffee and fight the urge to call an emergency content marketing meeting. Let’s take a step back and pinpoint what’s really going on. Often, these situations can range from minor, self-induced tagging errors to intricate algorithmic updates that can significantly impact organic traffic.
Let’s start by exploring some simple, self-induced issues that could be at the root of the problem:
- Google Analytics issues: Check your source code to confirm that analytics tracking codes are intact across the domain. It could be the case that traffic hasn’t dropped at all, but your ability to capture data has.
- No-index errors: If you’re in the process of redesigning or migrating your website or making significant changes to UX, etc., you may have forgotten to remove the no-index code or to update your robots.txt file in Search Console. Both of these simple errors could signal search engines not to crawl or serve certain content. The resulting impact would be reduced visibility within related search results and, thus, shrinking levels of traffic.
- Campaign lapsing: If your marketing team has been running paid advertising campaigns supporting a launch or brand effort, those efforts could have temporarily inflated traffic levels beyond the norm. Upon completion of such a campaign, it’s normal for traffic to significantly dip back down to average organic levels.
If it’s not one of the above issues, and it’s not one of these more common mistakes causing the dip—then no, it’s still not time to call the meeting. It may be that traffic has dropped due to Google’s constantly shifting algorithm, which routinely factors in hundreds of variables that can drastically impact visibility. Let’s explore some of those below:
- Weakening Core Web Vitals: Your traffic may be impacted if you haven’t optimized your website for mobile-friendliness and contemporary page load speeds. Use the Core Web Vitals report in Google Search Console to confirm and troubleshoot with your developer as needed.
- Over-optimized technical elements: Are you chasing traffic from important keywords by stuffing them into titles, headers and body copy? Google can easily decipher these activities and reduce the visibility of your website in favor of the brands adhering to current best practices.
- Thin content: If you’re publishing thin, low-quality pages to stay ahead of the competition, you should stop right now. Remember that all published content should first and foremost be catered to users, providing real value based on the intent of their search.
- Backlink spam: Have you been inadvertently generating irrelevant and low-quality backlinks to your website? This practice can be seen as an over-optimization practice that can lead to manual action and reduced traffic in short order.
There are a ton of reasons why you may see drops in organic website traffic—many of which are unintentionally self-imposed. Before jumping to conclusions, consult this list and speak with your broader marketing team. Should all administrative and infrastructural items be in order, begin to work through the list of other potential risk factors and address them accordingly. Everyone on that meeting invite list will thank you.