Why Is My Website Traffic Dropping?

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A Sudden Organic Traffic Loss Can Be Alarming…

…especially if you don’t know why it’s happening.

What Not to Say to Someone Having a Panic Attack | Health.com
Don’t panic

When Your Website Traffic Takes A Nosedive, What Should You Do?

Why is my website traffic dropping? Most people panic and start frantically optimizing their websites – but that rarely helps. The first step to finding out the cause of your sudden loss in website traffic is to compare this month with last month or year over year.

We all want more visitors to our site. It is quite common to see website traffic go up and down over time. Lose traffic, gain traffic.

And search engines are dynamic and always changing algorithms partly based on RankBrain and other scripts that track search behavior.

However, if you’re losing traffic suddenly and the traffic decline continues without any logical explanation then you may want to look into your SEO campaigns, overall traffic in Google Analytics, and your Google Search Console property if you are the site owner.

This article will give you some tips on how to diagnose the cause of a sudden drop in website traffic so that you can take the appropriate action.

Search Console Discover report now includes Chrome data

Analyze The Source of Site Traffic

First of all, you need to look at your website traffic sources and your marketing channels to understand a sudden drop. Is it organic traffic, direct traffic, referral traffic, or another channel?

If the source of your traffic is organic traffic and you experienced traffic drops without any explanation, check the exact search engine you are losing SEO traffic from.

Based on these assumptions then there might be a problem with the SEO strategy that you are currently using for your site.

For example, if most or all organic search visitors have disappeared overnight, this could indicate an issue in your SEO efforts. Is it mobile devices or desktops?


Mobile vs Desktop Traffic Split

If you notice a drop-off in mobile traffic but not desktop, then there may be some issues with the responsiveness of your site and how it displays on smaller screens. This is something that should be looked into as soon as possible!

Double-check both analytics reporting and Search Console coverage report for your site to try to ascertain the reason behind the sudden traffic drop.

Another idea is to manually check to search results, the index coverage report, the search volume of the keyword groups, and any trends. Often the CMO, or VP of Marketing will need an answer if you are the one doing the digital marketing.

Keywords Rankings In Flux?

Secondly, you should take a look at your keyword rankings. If the traffic has dropped but your keywords have not changed in ranking or if they are going up in rank too slowly, then there may be an issue with your analytics or something else.

For example, if one of your websites is ranked number four for a keyword but suddenly drops to number nine overnight, then there may be a wider SEO issue.

This could also be a normal flux, but if the visits dropped overnight along with rankings then the SEO efforts may be in question.

You can check your site keyword rankings with a rank tracker to see if your site is still ranked for certain keywords that have high organic traffic value to your business website. If they are not listed anymore then it may indicate a problem with rankings.

Free Keyword Rank Checker Tool - Ahrefs

Pageviews or Sessions?

Finally, you need to look at your website analytics to check for page view changes over time and any issues with user behavior. You should take a look at the average number of sessions per day on your website over time.

If you’re having fewer visitors, then there may be an issue with your website content or links that are not working properly. Is it multiple pages or a specific page?

Google Algorithm changes

Another reason why your website traffic may be going down is because of algorithm changes. For example, if you have been using SEO best practices but suddenly see traffic drops to your organic traffic and search rankings after the introduction of an update like penguin or panda then this could indicate that your site needs to change its SEO strategy and/or structure.

Check-in with Search Console to make sure that there has been no recent algorithm update or Google penalty impacting organic traffic rankings. Has there been a Google update you might have missed? If Google has made any recent changes to its algorithm, then this could be impacting your website rankings.

Look at redundant or weak pages, orphan pages, and thin content. Take a look inside Search Console for any notices of a penalty or manual actions that would relate to a significant drop in visits.

2021 Google Algorithm Update: What You Need to Know Page Experience |  Huckabuy
Google algorithm updates 2021

Keyword Cannibalization

Finally, you must look into keyword cannibalization. For example, if your website has two separate pages on SEO services for the same keyword then these will be competing against each other in search results which can cause one of them to lose ranking or both rankings to go down.

Geolocation Discrepancies

Are you checking the correct country source of visits? This is important to check if you want to improve your rankings in a particular country. For example, there may be geolocation discrepancies between analytics and Search Console that are causing visits to drop over time.

Bounce Rate

You should also look at the bounce rate for each page of your website. This will give you an idea of how relevant your website pages are to the keywords that you rank for. For example, a page with a high bounce rate may need better SEO copywriting or more in-depth research into which keyword variations will help it get ranked higher and reduce bounce rates across multiple device types.

bounce rate

Indexation Issues & Technical SEO Issues

Another reason why website traffic might be going down is that Google has not indexed your website properly. For example, if you have new pages on your website that are not indexed in Google then they will not appear when people search for related keywords. A technical issue like this can cause a serious loss of users.

External Linking

If you link to other websites but they are blocked by robots.txt or have a meta no-index tag then these links will be useless and can even harm the SEO of your site in some instances when it comes to ranking in search engines.

Are you linking unintentional to bad neighborhoods? Make sure to check internal links and broken links. Don’t forget crawl errors, you can find many of these inside Search Console.

Overall SEO Campaigns

Is your website getting a lot of traffic from various SEO campaigns? Is your keyword research on point? Sometimes traffic drops are seasonal! If you are running SEO campaigns then this is normal and expected.

However, if the site gets most of its organic search ranking power from SEO rather than say direct traffic or referral traffic, then it may be time to check how you can diversify your traffic sources.

I would also take a look at Search Console for things like image traffic or video traffic as this is often overlooked on any specific pages.

Google Analytics Setup Issues

There may be issues with your site’s tracking code, analytics plug-ins, or analytics setup that are causing traffic to drop over time.

This is possible if you have changed the tracking code of individual pages on a website without checking for new sessions and pageviews first.

Also, check any filters or views that you might have created as these can also affect whether the data you are looking at is correct in the first place.

Is the tracking code implemented with GTM or Analytics.js direct in the source code?

Missing tracking code notification - Analytics Help
GA tracking

Competitor Backlinks

Do your competitors have a stronger inbound link profile? If this is the case then you should look into your competitor backlinks to see what they are doing right that you are not.

One of the most effective ways to do this is with a backlink checker tool like Ahrefs, Majestic SEO, or SEMrush.

You can also check your competitor’s website indexes in Google to see if they have more pages indexed than you do.

Domain Authority & Page Authority Trends

Check Moz for overall trends or Majestic SEO for historical link data so that you can track SEO growth over time to determine if anything has changed recently related to backlinks etc… If all other factors are equal, domain authority will indicate higher search engine rankings for any given page compared to another page with different domain authority.

Page authority will indicate higher search engine rankings for any given page compared to another page with different page authority.

Domain Authority Score: Why and How it Should Define the Way of Your  Marketing Strategy

Lost Links

Has your website experienced suddenly lost links? If this has happened then it is likely that Google will not trust the site as much and may cause traffic to drop.

You can also look at referral data for further clues on why organic search traffic might be dropping over time. Make sure you are looking at the right timeframe so you know what to expect from the overall trend.

You can check inbound links several ways, but one way would be through Google Search Console.

Website Design Changes

A new website update requires careful planning. If you have recently made a website design or entire site change then this might also be a reason why traffic dropped as Google and other search engines crawl websites based on how they looked before.

This is particularly true if your site has many dynamic pages or pages that do not use static HTML source code (i.e. there is a lot of server-side code powering the website). Has the ga tracking code been re-implemented from the staging server?

Try using the URL inspection tool to check individual landing pages, have meta descriptions changed causing a drop in CTR and or rankings? Make sure XML sitemaps are resubmitted if wholesale changes have occurred. Has your developer implemented incorrect canonical tags!

Bad quality link penalties (Inbound Links)

If you have experienced a bad quality link penalty then this can cause traffic drops as Google devalues poor links that it has identified. Natural links are preferred by Google.

This is true even if the website’s search engine optimization efforts are still good and there are no other obvious problems with the site.

Manual actions can cause your website traffic to drop. Check Search Console for any manual penalties that have been applied and remove them if necessary.

Content Quality

Google maintains quality rater guidelines that it uses to rate website content and rank websites accordingly. Make sure your content is up to scratch or you could have suffered from any content-based update.

If you have been affected by a Panda or Penguin update then website visits may drop as this is how Google rates websites. What are some possible causes of lower organic search rankings for your site?

If the page has more ads than the content it can cause poor user experience and potential loss in revenue from visitors clicking away from advertisements on your website. After all, users who come to your website don’t want to be bombarded with adverts before they even get a chance to read any of the actual content!

Make sure there aren’t too many links on each web page either which could make things look spammy and give off a bad impression. Another factor for a drop is using keyword-rich anchor text pointing to your website.

If you have been using keyword-rich anchor text then this might cause a loss in rankings as users don’t want to see the same words and phrases being repeated over and over again.

Advertising / Pay Per Click Rankings

If advertising is increasing on Google, it may be because of Panda or Penguin updates causing organic search engine traffic to drop for some websites including yours!

Make sure that there are no spammy-looking ads either which could give off a bad impression from visitors who come across these adverts before they even get a chance to read any content on your site and deflate user metrics.

Site-Wide Google Ranking Factors

Google might have identified a site-wide problem such as over-optimized anchor text or low-quality content and applied an algorithm update.

Keep in mind that even if you are following all of the best practices for SEO, there may be updates to search engines like Google and Bing which change how those algorithms rank your website.

If you have been hit by a penalty for any of the reasons above then you can request reconsideration in Search Console and hope Google decides to reverse your website traffic drop.

Broken Redirects

Do you have broken redirects on your website? Broken redirects can cause major problems with organic search rankings.

Make sure all of the links to pages on your site are working properly and that there is not a broken link somewhere deep in the navigation structure (i.e. subpages) where it has gone unnoticed because this may be causing traffic

Competitor Improvements & Other Sites

Do your competitors seem to be improving their search engine optimization efforts? As mentioned above, if they are getting more links then this can cause your website traffic to drop.

Blocked Pages

Make sure that all pages on the site are being indexed so there aren’t any missing or blocked pages. It is common for pages to get blocked by robots.txt or meta robots tags, so these should be checked if you are seeing traffic drops and your website is not experiencing any other link-related issues.

Competitor Backlinks

Do your competitors have a stronger inbound link profile? If this is the case then you should look into your competitor backlinks.

Incorrect Robots.txt Rules

The robots.txt file can be used to block pages from being indexed by search engines, but it is easy to make a mistake with this file which could cause the wrong pages not to appear in results.

Check your website’s robots.txt file and check that you have updated all of the URLs properly as Google crawls things differently these days using a mobile-first crawler.


If you are managing a corporate website (or many websites) then you might need to check that your webmaster tools are set up correctly and not causing traffic drops.

Check the Search Console, Bing Webmaster Tools, and any other website SEO toolbox which can be used for reporting purposes such as Yandex Metrica or Adobe Analytics (SiteCatalyst).

Work With A Professional SEO

If you are having issues then the best thing to do is work with an SEO expert who can help diagnose any current or potential problems. This will prevent further traffic loss and ensure that your website ranks as high as it possibly can!

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