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How to diagnose the cause of a sudden loss in website traffic

How to diagnose the cause of a sudden loss in website traffic

Finding out that your site has had a sudden loss of traffic is always a distressing event and can potentially lead to significant loss of revenue. The first thing to do is to try and understand what the reason is for the loss of traffic so you can see if there is a quick way to rectify it.

Search engines use many factors for calculating traffic ranking and one factor that can cause a sudden loss is penalties. A website can receive a penalty for many reasons, the first thing to do is diagnose the reason.

Diagnosing loss of website traffic

If you have Google Analytics set up on your website then check the traffic on that and isolate the Google traffic to see whether that is the traffic that has been lost. If it’s from another source such as an affiliate site or other partner then you can address that quite easily with the partner.

If the problem is a drop in Google rankings then there are some steps you can take to identify the reason behind it.

The first step is to check in your Google Search Console, you may have received a letter from Google explaining that you have received a penalty and the reason why. You can reach this section by logging into your Google Analytics account and then clicking on the bell at the top of the page to view messages:

Message console

See it as a good thing if you’ve received this message as you can then quickly go about rectifying the issue.

If you haven’t received this message then you need to follow a few more steps to find out the problem.

Take a look at your traffic graph and see if there is an obvious date for the traffic,

traffic drop

When you have isolated the date of the traffic drop you can then go to the Google Algorithm page on Moz to see what the change was, the url for this is www.moz.com/google-algorithm-change

Many people don’t realise it but Google are releasing algorithm changes very regularly some more significant than others. If you can identify the change around the time of your traffic drop you can then try and understand the reason and take steps to address it.

Another good tool is the Panguin Tool from Barracuda Digital which overlays the Google algorithm updates onto your traffic chart to make it easier to see what updates may have affected your traffic.

If you’re not able to identify an algorithm change as being responsible then it will be a harder task for you. It’s possible it was a smaller Google update, or could be that one of your competitors has been doing a better job of SEO than you and are gaining more traffic at your expense. It’s always good to keep track of how your competitors are performing and you can do this from tools like SEMRush which you can get a good amount of information for free.











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