What to do if your traffic suddenly drops

If you’re a small business that partly relies on revenue from your website, a drop in traffic can be both confusing and terrifying.

But there are many reasons why a sudden loss in traffic can happen, and also, many ways that you can help remedy the situation.

Let’s take a look at what might have happened if you’ve suddenly experienced a drop in traffic.

Your data could be inaccurate

If this is the case, then things aren’t so bad, but you need to be 100% sure about the accuracy of your data.

Ensure that you have all the data for certain periods of time, including all devices and pages to ensure that you haven’t accidentally clipped something.

Competitors in the SERPs

Keeping up with competitors is key for survival, and there’s a chance that you might be losing traffic to a competitor.

Check your rankings and if possible, try to reverse-engineer the upranked pages and investigate where your competitors are leading the way.

There could be a range of reasons for losing traffic to competitors, including if they have gained new backlinks or have embarked on a new paid search campaign.

If the latter is the case, you might want to consider overbidding the competitor if the keywords they are focusing on are of high importance.

Algorithm update

Nowadays Google updates algorithms on a regular basis and no longer makes an announcement when it does.

That said, if you take a look through the SEO newsletters or online magazines, you will often find SEOs talking about a suspected algorithm change (usually in regards to core updates), which could mean that your site has indeed been affected.

However, there will be ones that cater to niche subjects and topics which will go unreported, so keep an eye on SERP fluctuations in niche areas to see if there is anything unusual happening.

Impressions within Search Analytics will be the place to find this.

Manual action penalty

If worst comes to worst, your site may have received a manual action penalty by Google.

A site can receive such a penalty if it has deemed to have violated webmaster quality guidelines by one of Google’s reviewers.

You should be able to find out whether you have one of these penalties in your Search console by going to Search Traffic followed by Manual Actions.

If for any reason your site has been hacked and you have received a manual action because of this, then Google has a recovery guide so that you can resuscitate your site.

You can also be penalised for spam links on your site within your comments section. If you find that lots of your comments are laden with spam, consider installing a reCAPTCHA plugin.

One of the biggest or most common reasons that a site incurs a manual action penalty is when there are too many unnatural links pointing towards your site.

When this happens, you’ll need to identify the links on your site that were paid for or that violate guidelines.

From there, you can either remove them or change them so that they no longer pass any value. Applying a “no follow” action is usually the way to do this.

Once this is complete, you can request a reconsideration, here.

It’s also worth remembering that thin or duplicate content could incur a penalty, so you might also have to review the overall quality of your site.

Again, once that you’ve sorted it, either by deleting, rewriting, or expanding it, you’ll need to fire off a reconsideration request.

In all cases, it’s worth noting that reconsideration requests might not be accepted the first time, which can happen if Google feels that the site has not fully addressed the issue that it was originally flagged for.

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