Nothing is worse to a content marketer than logging into Google Analytics and seeing your traffic drop, day by day. When that happens, it might be time to do an “SEO reckoning” and figure out what is going wrong.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do when traffic starts dropping to help it go back up again. Today, I will show you a few tips that you can use during a traffic drop to boost your rankings and get your traffic flowing again.
Let us get into it.
1. Confirm The Traffic Drop With Online Tools
The first step is confirming you actually have a traffic drop. Just because fewer sales are coming in or fewer comments are being left on your page does not necessarily mean you have a traffic drop. People may be visiting your website but not buying any products. In that case, you would have to figure out why that is happening and work on your conversion rates, but that is a separate issue.
Google Analytics should be the first tool to use to confirm your traffic drop. Check the graph to see whether you really have a drop or whether the drop is part of a regular cycle. For example, some types of content may be more relevant at certain times of the year than others. In that case, the graph would show a drop every year, at the same time. In addition, if the drop has only been happening for a day or two, it might not mean anything yet.
If you do confirm a drop, look at the graph to figure out what kind of drop it was. If it was a sudden, steep drop, it might have to do with something like a broken page link or even a manual Google penalty. If it is more like a steady decline, there may be other factors at play. In that case, you would want to do some work on your SEO to boost your rankings.
Another thing to look at is what type of traffic has dropped or where the drop came from. If your organic and social traffic remain the same, but your referral traffic dropped, perhaps someone stopped linking to you or a link became broken. If your organic traffic dropped, then it’s probably an SEO issue.
2. Make an SEO Audit
The next step is making an SEO audit. SEO audits can be complex and take days, or they can be quick and take less than an hour. It all depends on how thorough you want the audit to be. You can make an SEO audit yourself, however.
I’d suggest starting with some SEO audit tools. There are a few excellent SEO audit tools on the market, some of which are free, that will analyze your website and point out fundamental SEO errors that can be fixed.
Here are some of the best SEO audit tools:
You should also check your Google Search Console, as it will show you important data that can be very helpful for your SEO audit. Here are some things to check in the Google Search Console:
- Index Coverage Report (find indexing problems)
- Links Report (find broken links)
- Manual Actions (see if Google manually penalized your site)
- Security Issues (find potential malware infections)
- Top ranking pages, impressions, click-through rates, etc.
There are many other tools that can be helpful during your SEO audit.
Another tool I’d suggest using is the Google PageSpeed Insights Tool. This is a free tool that will tell you whether your page is loading quickly enough. If it is not, it will tell you what errors are causing your page to load slower and how to fix them.
You’ll also want to check Google’s free Mobile Friendly Test Tool. This tool will let you know whether your website is correctly optimized for mobile devices. Since around half of all global search traffic is now coming from mobile devices, it is crucial that your website be optimized for mobile devices. The tool will show you mobile responsiveness errors and how to fix them.
All of these tools, however, check your on-page SEO. You should also conduct an off-page backlink analysis. Using SEMrush’s Backlink Audit tool, you can discover a complete profile of all of your backlinks.
You will see the toxicity level of each backlink. A possible reason for your drop in traffic may be a black-hat SEO attack from a competitor.
If a competitor is creating bad, spammy links pointing to your site, Google may think you are engaged in black-hat tactics and penalize your site. Using SEMrush’s tool, you will be able to discover bad links, made intentionally or unintentionally, so you can disavow them using Google’s Disavow Links tool.
3. Check for Algorithm Updates
From time to time, Google releases algorithm updates that can severely affect your rankings. Updates like Penguin, Panda, and Fred have tanked rankings for many websites in the past and left bloggers scrambling to get their rankings back to normal.
Checking for updates is a bit tricky, however. It’s not as simple as asking Google, as not all updates are announced. However, there are a few ways you can check for recent algorithm updates in the case of a sudden traffic drop.
Here are some resources that can help:
- Search Engine Journal’s list of algorithm updates
- Search Engine Land’s list of algorithm updates
- Neil Patel’s Blog
- Matt Cutts Blog
- Matt Cutts Twitter
Perhaps a more straightforward way to find updates would be to check on Twitter using hashtags like #googlealgorithm, #algorithmupdate, #googleupdate, and #googlellgorithmupdate. If there has been a recent update, even if it was not official, there should be some chatter about it. Some prominent SEO bloggers and experts are bound to be talking about an update if one exists.
If you do see that an update might have been released, regardless of how minor it is, see what the update was so you could adapt your SEO strategy accordingly.
4. Look at Your Keywords, Metadata, and Alt Tags
Another good idea is to go over your keywords, metadata, and alt tags. Are you targeting the right keywords? Here is a full checklist to complete:
- Go over your target keywords in a keyword tool like Ahrefs to see if they are still getting decent traffic volume.
- Use a tool like SERP Robot to see if you are still ranking for those keywords.
- Check each post’s metadata and alt tags to see if they are optimized for your target keyword. You may have missed that in a few blog posts.
5. Update or Revamp Your Posts
Too many content marketers pay too much attention to creating new content at the expense of existing content. It’s just as important to update and revamp your existing blog posts, so they rank better.
Simply updating the publishing date of a blog post can help it rank better as it will seem more recent. There are even some WordPress plugins, like WP Auto Republish, that will automatically republish blog posts periodically.
In addition, it is vital to revamp content that is not ranking well. Here are some things to look for and some things you can do to help existing content rank better:
- Add more images and other visuals, including videos and infographics.
- Add more content. Add new sections and expand existing sections with further information.
- Include outbound links to high-value sites.
- Include some inbound links as well.
- Approve comments that are pending.
- Respond to existing comments.
- Add your target keyword in the metadata and throughout the article, as well as in the alt tags of images.
- Target a new keyword if the old keyword doesn’t have enough search volume anymore.
- Add social sharing buttons.
- Fix broken links.
6. Write New and Solid Content
Finally, you might be experiencing a drop because you are not releasing enough new content. Google tries to rank blogs that are publishing new content regularly. The longer you go without updating your blog, the more your rankings will drop.
By releasing new, solid content on a regular basis, your existing posts will continue to rank well and even increase in rank. It can be tiring to continually publish new content, but it is crucial to do so. You may consider hiring a freelancer to write and publish blog posts for you. Alternatively, you can set blog posts to be published weeks or months in advance so you can focus on other things that are important for your business.
Wrapping It Up
So, there you have: six things to do to fix a traffic drop. It can be scary to see your traffic dropping, but it is not unfixable. By following these simple steps, you can help get your rankings back on track, whether you were hit with a manual penalty or an algorithm update or even if you were neglecting your blog for a while. It might take some time to get your rankings back up, so be patient and consistent.