If you’ve never experienced that pit in your stomach when you see your site traffic decrease drastically from one day to the next, count yourself lucky! Most website owners have, at some point, experienced the classic mystery traffic drop and the ensuing anxiety.
As soon as you see your numbers drop, start doing some digging to determine whether this is a temporary hiccup, or if your site got hit by an update or penalty from Google.
First, you’ll need to look at your Traffic/Visitor stats. Ideally, this should be in your Google Analytics dashboard. If you don’t have an account yet, then on your Weebly dashboard you can see your visitor stats. If you use both, check if the traffic patterns of ups and downs are consistent across each tool. The exact numbers won’t be consistent and that’s ok - there’s a reason behind why there are differences in visitor counts for your Weebly site.
If the numbers are way off, check that your Analytics codes are correctly installed - we once had a User that was suddenly registering 0 visits - while editing her site the Analytics code snippet was altered and wasn’t sending any information.
Then, go through the following questions:
● Does the drop appear to be a swift, almost overnight change? This could be the result of a Google algorithm change or your site being penalised manually. Penalties which result in a ban aren’t handed out lightly, but if you want to check if your site has been penalised you can do so with this free tool.
Does your traffic trend look like this? [Source.](https://neilpatel.com/blog/the-ultimate-google-algorithm-cheat-sheet/)
● Is there any event that could explain the decrease in visits, such as the weekend, a holiday, or an invalid SSL certificate? This can indicate a seasonal fluctuation or a drop attributable to a specific error.
*Many websites have significantly lower traffic during the weekend or certain seasons *
● If you use Google Search Console (you should!), does it show your rankings dropping? If no difference seems to show on Google Search Console, then it may just be a fluctuation that will correct in a few days or weeks.
● Does Google Search Console show any warnings? These will be self explanatory and quickly help you determine if they are related to a drop.
GSC Errors. Source.
●If Google Search Console shows significantly worse rankings, check your rankings on Bing - are they unchanged, or have they gone down as well? If they’re unchanged, this may mean you’ve been hit by a Google update.
●Did you lose backlinks? If you’re a MarketGoo user, on your SEO report you’ll see how many sites are linking to you and how many backlinks you have. Has this number dropped? There are also tools like Monitor Backlinks which focus only on your site’s links.
●Check the Referral Traffic segment on Google Analytics - you’ll be able to see the main sites that refer traffic to you and whether they’ve been sending you less visitors. Focus on getting these links back (and then focus on getting more backlinks for your site!).
●Did Google update their algorithm? You can check sites that list all the known or suspected Google updates. Make an effort to read through what this update is about and why your site may have suffered as a consequence.
Learn More on the Updates that can affect your Site.
●Is the decrease specific to mobile traffic? Your mobile site may have a problem. You check mobile loading speed and for invasive popups.
●Is the decrease specific to a single page or set of pages? This points to specific problems among those pages.
●Did you lose out to Competitors? If you’re using MarketGoo, check whether your keyword rankings have decreased and then look to the column where your listed Competitors are, and note whether your decrease has ended up in an increase in rankings for them.
Looks like we have to work on optimizing for that “baby nappy cakes” keyword - our competitor has moved to page 1! Image from MarketGoo Dashboard.
●Is your Content low quality? If your content is short, uninformative, has more than a few irrelevant links, contains a lot of pop-ups and doesn’t really answer any questions your potential customers or visitors might have, then you need to re-think what you’re publishing. Google loves long, informative and high quality content.
Once you’ve gone through this checklist, you’ll have a much better idea of why your site traffic has dropped and what you can do about it.