19 Reasons of Google Traffic Drop
Have you ever faced a drop in Google traffic? Unfortunately, sometimes even the most authoritative sites experience dramatic traffic loss. Search engines like Google have the power to take away your hard earned traffic with its manual or algorithmic penalties or the latest update.
Why did my website traffic drop?
As soon as you find the core reason for your traffic decline, you’ll get the broad picture on how to deal with it. Usually, your traffic might be suffering either because of Google’s policies violation or because of some SEO errors that led to the traffic loss.
Let’s move beyond words to deeds – run through these 19 important reasons to find out why your website may have lost traffic.
Manual/Algorithmic Penalty from Google
Google has launched various algorithms updates since they are constantly striving to improve the search results for end users. If you didn’t comply with Google’s quality guidelines, your website will suffer.
The common way how Google tells you about any penalties are messages in Google Search Console. Usually, manual penalties are easy to spot here.
Things are different with algorithmic penalties which generally occur upon every Google’s algorithm update. Sometimes it can be difficult to understand that you’ve suffered from the algorithmic penalty because there may be no messages about that in Google Search Console.
So if you’ve faced a website traffic drop, check your site for any suspicious backlinks you may have recently obtained, as well as poor content. Ahrefs is a great tool that will identify any spammy or irrelevant external links. Read more about quality backlinks.
Relying Entirely on Organic Traffic
Nowadays it is quite a risky strategy to rely only on the single traffic generating source. It surely will not score your website a success. Especially if it comes to a drop in Google organic traffic.
You’d better diversify your traffic to be prepared for any sharp change that may happen in SEO. Consider including backlinks from other sites, blogs, forums and social media. Diversification is the only sound way to have a healthy and natural traffic stream.
As you may know, quality content plays a key role in getting high Google rankings and traffic. Since the latest Google Penguin update, you should always provide relevant and useful content for your readers.
And give up any shady tricks to please search engines crawlers instead of real people. Google’s algorithms are becoming more and more cunning, so if you are providing some poorly generated content with many mistakes, be sure that Google will notice it and punish you.
Moreover, you may end up with a high bounce rate if your pages contain low quality, uninteresting content that finally may ruin the organic traffic of your website. And this will be a tough call for your website performance.
No Content Updates
Once again we are talking about content. Google appreciates the fresh content. It likes to see your activity on the website and new useful articles for your readers. Sometimes you may be stuck with exciting content writing. Don’t worry, everyone of us has been there.
The solution to this problem is simple – set up a schedule for updating your website with new articles. Be realistic, don’t strain yourself. Keep in mind quality of content rather than its quantity. So instead of 5 small and dull articles a week, generate 1 quality and solid article. It will bring you much more authority and link juice.
Hidden Text & Too Many Keywords
Another reason why you could be dealing with a drop in website traffic is too many keywords on your web page. Some time ago it was a fruitful strategy to manipulate search results and get high rankings and traffic.
Nowadays everything has changed drastically. Beware of Google crawlers when you overuse keywords, since it may be regarded as spam. This also concerns hidden content – any text placed on a web page but invisible to the user is undesirable and may cause traffic decline.
Low Domain Authority
If your website has suffered from Google penalties of an algorithm update, then your domain authority can either save your traffic or leave you behind other websites.
Very often Google favors high-authority websites since reputation is an essential factor for getting high rankings. Even if there will appear an article of low quality on the authoritative resource, Google won’t punish it so harshly as it would do with the low-quality website.
Overuse of Rich Anchors
Still over using key anchor text? This could be one more reason why you may have been penalized. If there are a lot of anchor texts going to URLs on your website, Google regards it as spam. The excessive number of rich anchor texts is no longer useful for SEO.
Herewith this doesn’t mean you have to change all your anchors. You need to be aware that Google just does not like it when there are too many keyword-rich anchor texts on a website. Read more to find out how to use anchors to get the better results.
If you are extremely active with comments on other websites then call it quits. Excessive implementation of links wherever you want will only make it suspicious to Google. Don’t forget about smart Google’s algorithms that don’t like it at all.
Poor Link Building
There was a time when directories helped the search engines to find your website. And those links were good to obtain higher rankings. Now everything is different. If you have irrelevant and unnatural links to your site, Google might penalize you.
The only right way to use directories is when you are sure your customers use it too.
While link building can be a complex and tickly process, creating a smart link building strategy that focuses on the overall results instead of quick link building methods, you will be successful and get rid of scary waiting of the next Google’s algorithms update.
Usability is a very important variable for getting high rankings and traffic on Google. Designing a handy, empathetic user experience ensures that visitors perceive your site positively.
You will notice how they share your content, make bookmarks, come back to the site and bring along inbound links—all these signals are counted by search engines and contribute to high rankings.
Navigation through your website should be easy and intuitive. Try following the navigation path of an average visitor and answer questions that may arise in their heads. If any page of your site appears to be isolated from the other this may be the reason of a sudden drop in website traffic.
Changing Your Domain Name Without Telling Google
Whatever reasons you might have for domain change, the vital thing is to tell search engines about your move. Of course, if you want to preserve your traffic and rankings. Otherwise, your website will look like it doesn’t exist.
That is why if you want to keep your organic search traffic and rankings, let Google know about your domain change in your Search Console. If you ignored this step, that could be the reason to your dramatic traffic loss.
Redesigning Your Website Without 301 Redirects
Migrating from one domain to another may cause a drastic traffic decline of your website. The reason is forgetting about 301 redirects which help forward all your visitors, organic traffic, reputation and age of an old domain to a new one.
Just add several lines of code to ensure that you have successfully transferred the organic search traffic to your brand new domain. 301 redirects will stay forever and ever on your website. If you didn’t worry about making things right, your visitors will face 404 errors instead of pages that they were supposed to go to.
You can find more info on how to migrate correctly in our article on domain change.
Since robots.txt shows search engines what and where should be crawled, any errors in your robots.txt may cause serious harm to your organic traffic and rankings.
So the first thing you should do with your robots file is to ensure it is well written and to check for errors. Google provides the robots.txt tester tool, which reads and analyzes your file. Besides you need to check whether you haven’t closed some important information from being crawled. You can use the same tool to validate your robots.txt.
The crucial moment here is a clear vision of the architecture of your future website. You need to decide beforehand which pages will be nofollow/noindex in order to avoid probable traffic loss.
Ignoring Mobile First Indexing
In 2017 more than 86% of people used mobile devices to surf the Internet. A considerable number, isn’t it? No surprise that Google estimates mobile content at first when ranking a website, and only after it looks at desktop version.
Ignoring mobile optimization may lead you to the very last page of SERP list. You never know when and where your potential customer will come to your website. That is why the better an experience on mobile devices you can offer, the higher chances that you will get more customers.
Google also provides you with an option of checking the mobile-friendliness of your website.
Not Using Alt and Title Tags
Usually, any interesting and enchanting article can’t go without images. People get your idea better with the help of visual materials. Google does the same. Now Google is able to understand what is depicted on the image with the help of alt tags.
It is essential to add alt and title tags to let Google understand images in your articles. Moreover screen readers for blind people and visually impaired will also have an access to such images.
It doesn’t mean that from now on you should use your focus keywords in every single alt tag or title. Instead, you need a relevant image for your articles which makes sense in adding the specific keywords.
With this in mind, the use of title and alt tags are an absolute must if you want to get high organic traffic. So, if you didn’t pay attention to your alt and title tags this could have led to substantial harm to your traffic.
Using the Same Anchor Texts
Days, when keywords stuffing was fruitful, have already gone. So, when it comes to anchor texts, not only their excessive number can ruin your traffic but also using the same anchor text for most of your backlinks can be harmful.
Google will immediately consider it as spam. To make sure that you follow the formula of natural text distribution, check out our article.
Ignoring Canonical Tags
Canonical tags are used to tell search engines that several pages should be regarded as the single one.
Sometimes there are products and services that can be accessed by several URLs. This is the case when canonical tags will not let your traffic decrease because of duplicated content.
Setting correct canonical tags is important for good SEO results. It is also similar to 301 redirects but it actually doesn’t redirect, just preserve all your organic traffic. Just to ensure that you are doing canonization correctly, learn more about this issue on the Google support page.
Though duplicate content won’t cause any penalties, it may seriously dilute your organic traffic. This may happen because Google doesn’t understand which version of content to index, rank for query results, and where to direct the link metrics.
Inbound links will come to the both duplicates, thereby impacting on the visibility of your content in SERP.
Your business type may have a direct influence on your traffic changes. For instance, if a company sells skiing outfits, the high season will be wintertime. In other periods a company may experience a dramatic drop in Google traffic.
Though, it should be mentioned that seasonal SEO may become a perfect way of getting more traffic. Try to be one step ahead and predict the probable Google traffic drop when planning your SEO activities.
You can take advantage of the Olympic Games or important national holidays for instance by preparing some special offers during this period. In this case, it is essential to take into account your target audience and their location.
Website traffic drop is always unwelcome. Moreover, you need to take immediate actions to save your traffic, rankings and thus money. Nevertheless, if you take a fundamental approach to handle your traffic decline, it will help you revive your website performance.