When a business notices a sharp drop in traffic to their website, the first instinct is likely to be to hit the panic button. And as an agency, you are probably the recipient of this call. While your client may be tempted to overcompensate with a website redesign or an influx of new content, it’s important to first investigate the root cause of the traffic drop and then respond accordingly.
From Google’s algorithm changes to coding errors, there are many potential reasons for decline, and not all of them are necessarily the website owner’s fault. We asked members of the Forbes agency advice to offer possible explanations and what to help your client look for when investigating a drop in site visits. Their best answers are below.
1. Lack of mobile optimization
If your website is not optimized for mobile use, your site may see a reduction in traffic as Google’s search algorithms have adapted to favor mobile search. I would recommend checking your website pages on your own phone to make sure they are formatted correctly, load quickly (under five seconds), and are easy to navigate. – Michael Mogil, net video group
2. Important Website Changes
Often a change of website, a misplaced crawler file, or navigation updates can be the cause. Start by talking to your team to see what has changed over the past week. If it’s a disciplined team, check the ratings or annotations in Google Analytics, which can correlate traffic drops to any major website changes or updates. – Dan Golden, To be found online
3. New backlinks
Take a look at your backlink profile to see if there are any new links that have appeared recently. Ahrefs, SEMrush, and CognitiveSEO are great tools for viewing your backlink history. I recommend using at least two different tools and not relying too much on one. – Thomas Brodbeck, Site Policies
4. Outdated Content
Sometimes traffic drops are caused by technical issues or changes to Google’s algorithm, but sometimes they’re due to the busy holiday season or a major industry event that could distract your prospects. Lack of fresh content is another reason. I recommend a regular cadence of blog posts, customer case studies, and other useful, non-promotional content. – Paula Chiocchi, OutwardMedia, Inc.
5. Bad email marketing strategies
A company’s email database can be a double-edged sword. If the messages you send to this group of fans and brand loyalists are compelling and/or provide timely offers, consumers are more likely to click through to your client’s primary site. If your communication with consumers is getting stale and there is no added value, your drop in traffic could simply be attributed to poor messaging practices. – Priscilla Martinez, The brand agency
6. Slow Site Speed
Site speed is one of the main factors that Google uses in its algorithms to rank pages. When website traffic experiences a sharp drop, slow website speed is a common cause. This could be due to poor user experience, optimization, slow page loading, or long downtime. Recent research shows that the golden time is to aim for three seconds or less, especially on mobile. – Solomon Timothy, OneIMS
8. A drop in search rankings
Whenever we see a sharp drop in website traffic, we immediately look to see if there has been a change in our clients’ search rankings on Google. Even a small algorithm update can have a big impact on search rankings and web traffic. Alternatively, if a brand isn’t continually working to create targeted content, it’s very likely that competitors have moved up the search rankings and taken their place. – Lauren Fairbanks, S&G
9. Basic technical errors
In my experience, it’s easy to assume that something is seriously wrong because of the algorithms and jump to conclusions. First, take a look at the host site/server and make sure all the technical details are correct. Does the site work? Is it functional? Are all pages accessible? Do 301 redirects, including those from http to https, work correctly? Rule that out, then look for other reasons. – David Kley, Web Design and Business
10. Audience oversaturation
A change means that something is not the same, so the first step is a thorough analysis of website analytics. If the media strategy is held constant, the quality of targeting, messaging and/or offering could affect the ad campaign’s ability to drive traffic with the same spend. If this first test is clear, you may have reached audience burnout or oversaturation and need to rebuild. – Bryan Shetsky, Lamark Media
11. Lack of attention to SEO rules and accelerated mobile pages
SEO rules are constantly changing. Be sure to follow the latest requirements when posting new content and confirm that your existing content is up to date. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) are becoming increasingly important to the perceived quality and overall usability of your website when loading content or displaying advertisements. – Timothy Nichols, ExactDrive, Inc.
12. Changes in marketing activity
We often hear “advertising doesn’t work”. But when there is a sudden drop in website activity, we first look at the advertising campaign to see if it has been stopped or if a tactic has been changed. For example, we had a client who cut all TV shows and moved the budget to cable. While spending hasn’t changed dramatically, analytics data has reflected a sharp drop in visits. – Keys of Korea, Key Media Solutions
13. A high quality competing campaign
SEO is never a “one and done” strategy. If your client got a lot of organic SEO traffic, chances are they posted an article or video that Google ranked as one of the most relevant answers to the question your clients were looking to answer. to respond. To find this position, check out what was recently posted and find an even better and more relevant answer. – Bill Carmody, Trepoint, Inc.
14. A traffic source dropped
When a drop is seen, the first place to look is your traffic sources report. By reviewing this report and comparing month over month (and maybe over a few months), you can identify if a specific source has fallen, and if so, you can investigate why. If the identified source is valuable, then you can work to find a way to put it back in place. – mike liberman, Square marketing 2