Sudden Traffic Drop – What To Do?
Sudden traffic drop is one of the most shocking things that can hit any webmaster. It is especially hard when there is no announcement and then blindsided when you wake up to check your site stats. While extremely frustrating, it is doubtful that any serious webmaster has been spared this unwelcomed scenario. With that said, look at any traffic drop as part of a business and development path.
The goal of this article is to help you diagnose the problem on your own. It is important to do it by yourself because the alternative is to look for an answer online. Usually, this leads to even greater frustration with tons of false information provided by so-called experts, spread around both intentionally or unintentionally. Getting trusted advice is usually a good thing to do but in this specific case, we recommend that you do as much fact-finding as you can, on your own.
FIRST AND MOST IMPORTANT
If you are looking for a drop similar to the google analytics graph below, then you already know the feeling of helplessness and desperation. Your work is ruined overnight, your business seems totally lost and you don’t have a clue what happened. Who is to blame? Bad luck, cheaters, search engines? One is for sure, there is a precise reason why this has happened. The problem is that you are not aware of it at this point. The first and foremost important thing after a sudden traffic drop is to avoid panic.
Even though it may sound obvious, it is necessary to confirm that you are looking at accurate data. Believe it or not, there are many webmasters that don’t realize that tracking code position can make the difference in the results. You want to be absolutely certain about data accuracy. Be sure you are not barking up the wrong tree missing an important piece of stats for a defined period of time, a device or a page type. Ideally, you are already utilizing two types of tracking on your sites like Google Analytics and Piwik. Doing so, allows you to compare two sets of tracking data to see are there some deviations. Sometimes a drop can look sharp because you’ve set the wrong date range. For example, you’ve included today and the day isn’t over. Or you’re looking at an hourly report.
SEARCH ENGINE PENALTY
There is 95% chance that data accuracy checks out OK but, we know further steps simply have to be taken. The next easiest thing to do is to go to your Google Webmaster Tools console and see is there some type penalty placed on your site. If there is, it will be clearly stated in the “manual actions” section of GWT. There are multiple scenarios why this happened. Below is an example of what a manual penalty looks like.
Basically, this is the easiest and best case scenario if there is a problem on your site. Why? Because you don’t have to investigate further and you will immediately know the culprit. There are different penalties. For example thin content with little or no added value. This often happens on adult website pages without text and embedded videos or galleries. The following is a list of penalties you can earn:
1. Unnatural Links Penalty – Google discovered that you were buying or obtaining low-quality links.
2. Unnatural Outbound Links – This penalty is imposed upon websites that Google believes are selling links to other websites without being properly marked as “sponsored.” The outbound links also include irrelevant links and pages set up for linking schemes.
3. Hacked Site – Google will impose a Manual Action on your site as soon as it notices malicious code. Even though you are in no way responsible for your own website being hacked, Google will still deliver a penalty. Sites using popular scripts are in jeopardy so keep your scripts updated.
4. Thin Content Penalty – as mentioned, this is the most common reason for the penalty and sudden traffic drop with adult websites. Below, please find a list of items that Google considers thin content:
– Automatically generated content – If a human is not creating your content, then it will likely fall into this category and be considered thin content.
– Thin affiliate pages – If the only content your website is for the purpose of promoting products or services as an affiliate and provides no additional value, it might be considered thin content.
– Content from other sources – If you rely on content scrapers to steal content from other websites, or you get low-quality content from outside contributors (guest posts), then it might be considered thin content. google-manual-action-thin-content
– Doorway pages – If you have multiple pages or websites that you are trying to rank for specific queries that take the user to essentially the same piece of content, then they might be considered doorway pages.
– User-generated spam (UGC) – Google distributes this type of penalty when users on your website, blog or forum contribute spammy blog comments or forum posts. If you own a social networking site, you may receive a penalty based on the behavior of your users’ profiles, members or visitors.
– Cloaking and sneaky redirects – Sneaky redirects refers to landing pages that users are redirected to. If your website contains any pages that are indexed by Google but reroute users to other pages, then you may have “sneaky redirects.”
– Hidden text and keyword stuffing -Your website may be subject to Manual Actions if you overuse keywords or conceal keywords from users during your page optimization. This sort of Manual Action can target hacked or infected websites.
It would be great if search engines would notify webmaster when any new algorithm update goes live. In reality, search engine companies don’t care because you will have to adapt anyway. If SEO is not your core business, you are probably not checking the latest search engine news. It doesn’t take long before you hear that something is going on with other webmasters complaining about sudden traffic drop. At that point, you know that you are not alone. Having more people sharing same problem (a sudden traffic drop) means that there is much larger chance that they will find a solution and reasonable explanation of what the new algorithm just accomplished.
What you should know is that there is an extremely small chance that you are having these problems. That is IF you were doing a quality SEO work in previous periods (years).
LOSS OF IMPORTANT LINKS
Link building and constant improvement of your site link profile is still an important factor when it comes to SEO. Valuable links are those with high quality (PA, DA, link rank, etc) and losing some of the established links can drastically reduce search engine performance. To prevent this from happening, pick your link partner carefully and keep the track of your links. With an important backlink list, you can eliminate this problem in a very short time, by checking are your links still up. Ideally, you would keep all your links sorted in one place, but it is not necessary. Taking care of high-ranking links will be just fine.
BIG SITE CHANGES
Recent website migrations, updates or redesign may also explain why your traffic has seen better days. This is the second time Google Search Console gives you a helping hand. Go to Crawl, then Crawl Errors, have a close look at the graphs to spot any differences that may have taken place after your sites renovation. If you are a responsible webmaster, you did a proper evaluation of potential problems (to be prepared for a sudden traffic drop) and you have a backup ready to restore. Our advice is to never decide in a short time period, you should allow the search engines better understand what you did for at least a few weeks or a month.
There is one specific scenario that can be applied to the websites relying on a few high volume keywords. In case you lose ranking for keywords with the huge amount of monthly searches, and you drop below top 10 results in SERPs, you will notice a significant drop in traffic. Targeting high volume keyword is always a risky business. When something is searched so many times per month you should know that it won’t stay unnoticed by other SEO teams and site owners. Usually, those sites owners are the big guys with huge SEO budgets and teams working hard even while you are reading this article.
SEOAdult has a special service for a people asking why a competitor overtook their place in search engine result pages. Read more about competition analysis and get accurate data about the current market situation for your favorite keyword.
SEM (SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING)
SEM involves gaining traffic through paid advertisements. SEO traffic, on the contrary, only comes from organic search. Basically, there is not much you can do about this because search engines are charging business to show their ads first. People today are lazy and usually click on the first top five or top ten results. This means that SEM results will push you down and often move to the second page.
This situation depends on the attractiveness of your niche and ability to finance those campaigns. Actually, there is a very small chance that this is a reason for losing traffic. Blaming SEM for a sudden traffic drop can be legitimate but usually, if it is combined with some of the previously mentioned problems.
After a near-brainwashing about mobile-friendly sites has been going on for years. Even so, there are still people that ignored this “warning.” Our experience says that the main reason is not lack of knowledge but not adapting to change. Their websites were created years before being mobile friendly was a ranking factor.
From the early beginning of the internet sites have been developed with thousands of pages of unique content. Delaying and ignoring mobile responsiveness warnings eventually resulted in a drastic rank devaluation and a sudden traffic drop. Unfortunately for those people, reality will force them to apply what search engines are demanding, especially after a Mobile First Indexing rolled out.