How to Analyze and Recover From Traffic/Impressions Drop

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How to Analyze and Recover from a Website Traffic/Impressions Drop

  • Recovering from a sudden decline in website traffic/impressions can be challenging. However, you need to be patient and work out a strategy.
  • First look into your Google analytics and search console data to identify any obvious reasons.
  • Technical problems or poor user experience can also cause a traffic decline.
  • Website experiencing a traffic decline caused by Google core update can take time to recover.

You have been working hard on your blog creating content, backlinks and optimizing keywords. Your website has been ranking well in searches and you were receiving a nice level of traffic. However, suddenly you experienced a significant drop in traffic/impressions and are in a fix about how to fix it and recover the traffic.

You will need to conduct an extensive audit of your website and website content to find out the reasons behind the traffic decline. Before arriving at a conclusion regarding why your traffic/impressions might have dropped, you must check at a few places to look for any anomaly.

  • Your server
  • Google Analytics
  • Google Search Console
  • Robots.txt
  • XML sitemap
  • .htaccess file

If you do not find any issues in these, there might be other reasons that your traffic declined.

Google core updates

Whenever Google rolls out an update, there is considerable buzz in the SEO world. With each update there are winners and losers. While some websites may experience a considerable decline in traffic and search rankings, some may end up gaining traffic and ranking higher in search results.

One of the common reasons that your website experienced a sudden decline in its traffic and impressions is that it might have been hit hard by a latest Google core update. It is one of the multiple reasons that could cause a traffic decline on your blog. As happened recently, Google’s latest core update hit a large number of websites hard and many of them lost 80% or more traffic. If Google considers your website/content to be spam, chances are high that it could get deindexed and then not surface in search results.

If there has recently been an update and your website was hit by it, you must check out the latest guidelines provided by Google and make changes to your content strategy to recover.

There are two factors that are quite important for website owners to achieve and maintain higher rankings in Google searches. The first important factor is quality and the second is user experience. Google has been emphasizing these factors for quite a few years. However, it has now taken a stricter approach to handling spam websites or websites that contain useless, unoriginal, or low quality content. You have to ensure that your blog has original and high quality content to maintain your rankings.

A large number of such websites that have been using AI tools or automation to generate content at scale have faced strict action from Google and lost a large part of their traffic and ad revenue. So rather than simply generating content and optimizing keywords, focus on creating useful and high quality content for traffic growth. If you think that your website was hit by a core update, you will need to adapt and change your content strategy to follow the guidelines offered by Google.

Technical Issues

There are a variety of technical issues that can cause traffic and website impressions to decline.

User experience is now an important ranking factor on which your search rankings depend. You need to make sure that your website offers a good user experience. It means apart from being designed well, the website should be fast loading.

A poor user experience can also lead to drop in rankings. Your website should load fast since slow loading websites rank lower. Optimize your website to provide a good user experience. Conduct regular audits to find out the aspects of your website that need to be improved. If you think you do not have enough resources, upgrading the server also might help you recover.

There are other types of technical issues too that might cause a drop in rankings and traffic or make links disappear from searches. For example, a wrong server configuration, changes in the robots.txt file or a wrong robots.txt file or even some error in DNS configuration might prevent Google from crawling your website and indexing urls.

There a few things you must check when you experience an abrupt decline in traffic:

  • Server configurations
  • DNS configurations
  • XML sitemap
  • .htaccess file
  • Robots.txt
  • Theme or plugin conflicts
  • Issues highlighted in Google Search Console

Did you make any recent changes on your server? Check out your server configurations and error logs. If you have made any changes recently that you believe might have affected site traffic, remove or revert them and wait for the traffic to return. Server level issues can affect crawlability and indexability which may affect impressions and traffic.

Have you made any changes to your DNS configurations? Even if you have not, you must check once if your DNS is working properly. Use whatsmyDNS to check if your DNS is working properly or check out at your Domain registrar’s.

Check the xml sitemap on your website. Is your website having an xml sitemap? In some cases, due to a plugin update or a server related issue, the xml sitemap might not load correctly and Google may be unable to crawl your sitemap. Check for any such issues and fix them and then resubmit your sitemap to the Google Search Console.

The robots.txt file is also a critical file that affects the crawlability of your website and indexation of urls. Make sure that the entries in your robots.txt file are correct. Use the robots.txt tester in your search console to verify that there are no errors in the robots.txt file. If you have recently made any changes to your website’s robots.txt file, you can revert those changes and wait for the traffic to climb.

Have you recently made any changes to your website design? Design changes to the website can also affect rankings. If you have recently changed the theme or plugins, you might try reverting these changes to see the effect. Plugin or theme conflicts can also cause the traffic to decline. Sometimes a recent update to a plugin can also cause a conflict and affect website impressions and traffic. You should disable any plugins that you have recently installed to check if it fixes the issue. In case you recently added some code manually to your theme’s functions.php file, you can remove that code and wait to see the impact.

If there has been a technical issue that caused the website traffic to decline, then fixing the issue will bring traffic back faster.

Google Search Console

One of the most important places to look when you see traffic anomalies is the Google search console. You can check inside the Google search console to see if Google has reported an issue regarding indexation or any other important issue affecting crawlability and indexation.

Check out the notifications to see if recently Google has faced any crawlability/indexation issues. Go to the settings inside your Google search console account and then visit crawl stats. Do you see a significant decline in crawl stats? Is Google crawling your website less often compared to the previous period? There might be some issue preventing Google from crawling your website or you might need to generate more fresh content.

Inside the search console, you can also check out the manual actions and security issues sections. Go to the manual sections and security issues section in the search console. If there has been no manual action or Google did not find any security issue on your website, you will see a green tick mark and no issues found notification there. If there has been a manual action, you will see the issue there. You can fix the issue and ask Google to recrawl your website.

Go to the pages section inside the search console and check out the indexation status of urls. Do you see a reduction in the number of indexed urls? If yes, find out why those urls were deindexed. Do you see any unknown urls or urls that should not be indexed appearing as indexed? Check out if any urls that have been marked as no index need to be indexed. If you see any issues like the ones mentioned above, you can fix them and remove any no index tags from where they should not be. If your robots.txt is preventing any pages from getting indexed, you will find them listed under the blocked by robots.txt section. Check if these urls should be really blocked or not and fix them.

In case you find urls being indexed that must not be there or are not included in the sitemap, you can use the removal tool inside the Google search console to remove these urls from inside the Google index.

Sometimes ranking and traffic may also drop due to certain SEO related factors. You can use tools like Semrush and Ahrefs to find if your website or certain pages on your website are affected by any such SEO issue. Semrush can help you easily identify and fix these issues.

However, you can also easily identify which pages on your website have lost traffic using your GA4 account and search console data. The GA4 account will show you the pages that might have experienced an increase or decline in traffic. Inside your Google search console also you can find such data that can be useful to know which pages might have lost traffic. You can go back to the pages that have lost rankings and fix them to gain traffic back.

Sometimes, traffic may also decline because you lost some valuable backlinks. Keep an eye on your backlink profile. However, if you have lost backlinks, no need to worry. Be patient and keep creating high quality content so that you can attract more visitors and gain more organic backlinks. Sometimes increased competition can also affect traffic.

Key Takeaways:

Usually in cases where there is a sudden traffic decline, it is easier to fix when the issue is caused by some technical problem. In such cases you can expect to gain traffic back within days. However, if the site was affected by a recent Google core update, then you might need to review the latest guidelines and follow them to gain traffic back. The steps you must take to fix a traffic decline are as follows:

  • Check out your Google Search console and Google analytics to identify any patterns that might indicate a crawlability or indexation issue.
  • Check out any recent changes to server configuration or website design and revert them since they might have caused the decline.
  • Identify any plugin or theme conflicts.
  • If everything appears fine, check from the Google search console to find if there has been any manual action or security issues. These issues can be fixed easily and you can ask Google to review the site.
  • In case of a core update by Google, if your site has been negatively affected, you will need to be patient and make changes that Google suggests. You will need to change your content strategy and improve quality and user experience to rank higher.
  • Fix your sitemap and robots.txt file since they have a major effect on indexation and traffic.
  • Audit your website regularly to identify any user experience related or SEO related issues and make improvements.

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