When implementing SEO, you must be ready to face the fact that the going might be smooth overall, but there would be dips in traffic flow at times that you have to accept. In an ideal scenario, all of us would like to enjoy a constant stream of traffic and would expect that there is constant upward movement in traffic volume. However, any digital marketing agency knows that ideal situations occur infrequently and fluctuation in traffic flow is more of an accepted norm, no matter how well you implement the optimization campaign. You must learn to live with it because the decline in traffic is usually temporary and it recovers on its own in most cases. There is no need to panic if the lull is brief and you recover from it.
After some time, you would understand the pattern of traffic flow and get used to it. There must not be any reason to worry if the pattern remains steady. During this phase, you might experience that the traffic flow reaches a plateau for some time, as it remains stable at a certain level although there is no upward movement. It is also well accepted. However, if you ever notice that there is a sliding tendency in traffic that keeps on dipping for weeks at a stretch, then the issue needs quick intervention. In this article, you will come to know how to identify the causes through trouble shooting so that you can take suitable action.
Did you receive a manual penalty?
If there is a sudden and steep decline in traffic that is not at all normal then perhaps the only reason for it is Google penalty. The website might have attracted Google manual penalty that resulted in a sharp drop in traffic. Although such instances are between far and few and should not usually happen if you are following the best practices, you never know. To eliminate the possibilities of being hit by Google manual penalty, check the Google console if you have received any notification confirming the penalty. It is mandatory for Google to issue a notification to the affected website to inform about the penalty. On knowing the reason, you can take action to rectify the error and notify Google to raise the embargo so that traffic flow normalizes once again.
Identify the areas that experience drop in traffic
If the manual penalty is not the reason, then there is need to scan the traffic flow in more detail instead of focusing on the cumulative traffic drop that happens across the entire website. Since different web pages attract the different volume of traffic, you must go through the traffic data of every page to know the pattern of drop that happens for each page. It would reveal the pages where the drop is the most and also point to the keywords that are responsible for it. The information you gather in the process will help you to carry on a more intense investigation on specified page or pages. Once you identify the pages, you can concentrate on parameters like content, link and page's competition to pin point the exact cause that had made traffic disappear from the page/s.
Study the competition
Just as traffic can fluctuate, so can competition. Therefore, there is need to review the competition to know about its current status especially if yours is a business start up. You never know that over the past few months, the competition might have changed drastically. Many industries experience the change in competition overnight.
Begin the exercise by checking rankings against specific keywords to identify where the drop has actually happened. If you find it, then try to understand if it has happened due to some new competitors in the field or is it because the existing competitors have upped their game and have taken you by surprise with better inbound links and better content. To counter the situation, you might confront opponents by improving your SEO with more investment so that you better them on every ranking parameter or else if you do not want to take competitors head on, change the target terms to make it more precise so that it helps to draw more traffic.
If it is not for competition that the traffic has declined, then look into the content quality and inbound links to identify the weaknesses that caused the problem.
Conduct link profile audit
The importance of inbound links needs no explanation because its impact on organic search results is well known. Check the quantity and quality of links that you acquire to determine if some poor quality links have crept in inadvertently that is lowering rankings and efficiently cutting down traffic to the website. Analyze the links with the help of a link profiler tool, and if you find there are links from spammy sites, then you must remove and replace those with better quality links to restore the site's authority that would improve rankings and help to recover from the setback. For removing links, you can request the webmaster of those websites but if it does not work, get the links disavowed by requesting Google.
Examine the content quality
If neither competition nor link profile is the reasons for the drop in traffic, then the only other thing left for testing is the content. Is the content quality not satisfactory and is it not receiving attention from viewers? You can gauge by looking at how much sharing of content is happening. If you have removed some high-quality content, then it reduces the website value and affects ranking. Arrange for publishing high-quality content and remove all poor quality content by adopting a long-term content strategy.
There is no sure way to increase traffic except for going through a process of trial and error to make improvements and correct problems. It is a continuous process, and most importantly, get as close as possible to the underlying cause of the problem to determine the right action for recovery.