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Aleksander Furgal Published: 7 Jun 2023 13 min to read

Traffic Drop Analysis: Why the Sudden Drop In Website Traffic?

Usually, Internet traffic ebbs and flows as predictably as the tide. But when the waves of visitors to your website begin to recede more than they roll in, it’s time to dive into the deep sea of data.

When done right, traffic drop analysis can help steer your digital ship back on course.

Consider this: on average 53% of all website traffic comes from organic search, which means that even the smallest dip in traffic can represent a huge missed opportunity.

However, it might also only take a minor tweak in your SEO strategy to bring all those visitors back. 

Ultimately, traffic drop analysis is a powerful tool for understanding users. By analyzing the causes and impacts of traffic drops, we can gain valuable insights into online behaviors, optimize digital strategies, and maximize our reach.

Stay tuned as we dive into the intricacies of website traffic drop analysis, where every click is a clue and every user a potential trail to follow.

What is organic traffic?

Organic traffic refers to the visitors that arrive at your website as a result of unpaid search results, facilitated by search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo.

This type of user engagement is often perceived as the holy grail of web traffic, and for good reason. It indicates that your content is so relevant and valuable that search engines see it as a top-tier source of information for a specific search query.

To illustrate, if a programmer typed “best programming languages for web development” in Google’s search bar and your article titled “Top 10 Programming Languages for Web Development” popped up among the top results and they clicked on it, that’s an example of organic traffic. It’s organic because you didn’t directly pay for that visitor. Instead, the quality and relevance of your content led them to your site.


Common reasons behind declining organic traffic

Organic traffic, while highly desirable, is not always stable. It can ebb and flow based on a variety of factors, some of which are under your control and some of which are not.

That’s why analyzing and understanding the reasons behind an organic traffic decrease is essential to maintaining a healthy, engaging, and continually growing website.

Keep in mind that a decrease in traffic doesn’t necessarily spell disaster. Sometimes, it simply points to an area of your site or your strategy that needs a little attention and optimization.

Let’s dive deeper into the most common reasons behind a decrease in organic traffic.

# CMS migration/frontend changes

CMS migration or frontend updates can influence organic traffic through their interactions with specific website elements.

For example, if metadata like title tags and descriptions aren’t correctly transferred during a CMS migration, this could negatively impact your search rankings, as you might end up with a website that’s difficult for search engines to index.

Likewise, implementing a new site design that doesn’t prioritize usability can cause an increase in bounce rate. For instance, changing the location of the search bar or making navigation menus less intuitive can lead users to exit your site faster, affecting your organic traffic.


# Website architecture and URL modifications

Good site architecture is a must for both users and search engines. It allows for easy navigation and aids search engines in understanding and indexing your content.

That’s why a shift from simple to complex architecture could lead to crucial content buried deep within the site, making it harder for both users and search engine bots to find. These changes can disrupt the user experience and the crawlability of your site, causing a decrease in organic traffic.

Similarly, if you alter your site’s structure or URLs without proper planning and implementation of URL redirects, you might end up with broken links or loss of “link juice.”


# Seasonal variations

Seasonal fluctuations interact closely with your site’s content.  If you operate within a niche that experiences seasonality, this could be contributing to your decrease in organic traffic.

For instance, a website focused on selling holiday decorations might see a spike in traffic in November and December, only for it to plummet come January. This is normal and not necessarily a cause for concern, but it’s something you’ll want to factor into your traffic analysis.


# Declining content update rates

The frequency with which you update your content influences its “freshness,” a factor that search engines use to rank pages.

If you used to publish a new blog post every day but then slow down to once a week, search engines might perceive your site as less relevant. This can lower your website’s freshness score and, consequently, its ranking in search engine results, resulting in a drop in organic traffic.

Moreover, not adding new content regularly might affect the frequency with which search engines crawl and index it.


# Changes in search engine algorithms

Search engine algorithms continually evolve, adjusting how they evaluate and rank websites based on a multitude of factors like keyword usage, site speed, mobile-friendliness, and more.

For example, Google’s Mobile-First Indexing update prioritized mobile-friendly websites. Sites that didn’t adapt to this change and remained desktop-centric saw their rankings and organic traffic decrease.

Staying ahead of these updates and making necessary adjustments to your SEO strategy can help mitigate their impact.


# Decrease in content quality

Quality is assessed by various components like originality, relevancy, and inclusion of multimedia.

If a website shifts from producing in-depth, well-researched articles to shallow, poorly written ones, search engines may notice that drop in quality and assign it with a lower search ranking.

Similarly, including fewer images and videos could result in less engagement and higher bounce rates, further impacting organic traffic.

Overall, high-quality, user-focused content that provides tangible value is key to maintaining and increasing organic traffic.


# Technical issues

Technical issues, such as slow page load times, lack of mobile compatibility, or 404 errors, can seriously harm your SEO, along with the overall user experience.

When your site takes too long to load or isn’t responsive on mobile devices, or when users encounter too many errors, it could lead to a significant decrease in organic traffic. Likewise, if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, it might rank lower in mobile search results, resulting in less organic traffic from mobile users.

Regularly performing website performance audits to check your site for such issues and address them promptly is crucial.

In our experience, recovering from a dip in website traffic should always begin with a thorough, multi-dimensional analysis, encompassing everything from keyword rankings and content quality to technical SEO audits. Our top advice to clients is to embrace this challenge as an opportunity to refine their digital presence, align their SEO efforts more closely with their audience’s needs, and, eventually, build a stronger, more resilient online platform. Mike Jackowski COO, ASPER BROTHERS Let's Talk


# Increased competition

If new competitors enter the scene or existing competitors improve their SEO strategies, they might outrank you in search results, leading to a decrease in your visibility and organic traffic.

Competition can impact your organic traffic through their content quality, SEO tactics, and user experience. If a competitor starts publishing high-quality content that aligns more closely with popular keywords, they could start to rank higher than you in search results.

Similarly, if they improve their website speed or user interface, they might attract more users, leading to a decrease in your organic traffic.


# Missing backlinks

Backlinks are essentially votes of confidence from other websites. They signal to search engines that your content is valuable and trustworthy, which can help improve your ranking in SERPs.

However, losing backlinks, whether it’s because other websites have removed links to your site or pages that linked to you have gone offline, can impact your site’s authority and lead to a decrease in organic traffic. This will be especially impactful if the missing links came from websites with high authority.


# Changes in user behavior

Changes in user behavior, trends, or the popularity of certain keywords can also affect your organic traffic.

For instance, a website focused on travel advice might see a decrease in traffic due to global events, like a pandemic, causing users to search less for travel information. Similarly, if your audience demographic evolves over time (for example, transitioning from desktop to mobile browsing), and your website fails to adapt to these changes, your organic traffic may suffer.

Conducting regular keyword research and staying on top of industry trends can help you anticipate and adapt to these changes.


# Negative SEO attacks

A negative SEO attack involves malicious attempts to sabotage a website’s SEO ranking.

For instance, a competitor might engage in spammy link-building practices on your site, making it appear to search engines that you’re trying to manipulate rankings. If search engines interpret these spammy links as a violation of their guidelines, they may penalize your site. Another kind of negative SEO attack might involve duplicating and reposting your content.

Such attacks can lead to a sharp decrease in organic traffic, so it’s important to monitor your backlink profile and take action if you notice any suspicious activity.


# Lacking social media strategy

While not a direct ranking factor, social media can drive a substantial amount of traffic to your site, acting as a bridge between users and your website.

If you reduce the frequency of your social media promotion or the quality of the posts you share, this can cause a significant decrease in the organic traffic coming from these platforms.

Regularly sharing your content and engaging with your audience on social media can help bolster your organic traffic.


8 steps to investigating search traffic drops

When you observe a substantial drop in your search traffic, it’s time to don your detective hat.

Running a thorough investigation into the potential causes of the slump can equip you with the right strategies to recover and possibly supersede your previous traffic.

To properly diagnose the issue, it’s crucial to look at it from different perspectives, which involves scrutinizing various elements of your website and overall SEO strategy. These elements can range from algorithmic changes in search engines to technical aspects of your site, from your content quality to the dynamics of your industry’s competition.

#1 Monitor algorithm updates

Search engines, most notably Google, frequently update their algorithms to improve their search results’ quality and relevance. These updates can sometimes bring significant ranking shifts, affecting websites worldwide.

It’s crucial to stay up-to-date with these updates, as they can significantly impact your organic traffic. Regularly following SEO news, subscribing to relevant newsletters, or being part of SEO forums can help you remain informed about these updates.

If a recent update aligns with your traffic drop, you’ve likely found at least part of the reason.

Action: To adapt, research the specific focus of the update (e.g., mobile-friendliness, site speed, content quality) and make the necessary improvements to your site.


#2 Analyze keyword ranking changes

Numerous SEO tools offer capabilities to track your site’s performance for specific keywords over time. By examining these metrics, you can identify whether your rankings for particular keywords have dropped recently.

A significant ranking drop for your high-performing keywords could certainly be a driving force behind a drop in your organic traffic. If such is the case, you may need to revisit your keyword strategy and optimize your content accordingly.

Action: Perform a comprehensive keyword audit, reassessing the relevance and competition of your targeted keywords. Then, update your site’s content and meta-tags accordingly to improve keyword relevancy and ranking.


#3 Optimize website speed and performance

Page speed is an integral part of user experience, and it’s a known ranking factor for search engines. A slow-loading website could frustrate your visitors, leading to higher bounce rates and, ultimately, reduced organic traffic.

To perform website speed optimization, you can employ a variety of tools (mentioned below), which provide detailed insights into your site’s speed, and also offer recommendations for improvement.

Action: Run a site speed test and identify elements slowing your site down, like large image files or unnecessary scripts. Then, employ techniques such as image optimization (compressing, resizing, and conversion into more efficient formats), minifying HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files, reducing the number of HTTP requests, enabling browser caching, or using Content Delivery Networks.


#4 Ensure mobile friendliness

If your site is not properly optimized for mobile, you’re likely missing out on a vast portion of potential visitors. Online tools can help you determine whether your site provides a good mobile user experience. If it doesn’t, addressing this issue could potentially improve your organic traffic.

Action: Evaluate your site’s mobile design and ensure it’s responsive, meaning it automatically adjusts to fit any screen size. Also, check that menus and buttons are easily navigable on mobile and text is readable without zooming. For more details, check our Mobile SEO guide.


#5 Analyze and improve your backlink profile

Backlinks serve as endorsements from other sites, signaling that your content is valuable and reliable. However, losing backlinks, particularly from high-authority websites, can affect your site’s authority and subsequently lead to decreased organic traffic.

Online tools can help you track your backlink profile, monitor new and lost backlinks, and devise strategies to regain or replace lost backlinks.

Action: Identify high-authority sites that have unlinked from your site, reach out to them, and request re-linking. Also, create high-quality content that encourages other sites to link to yours.


#6 Assess and enhance your content quality

Since content is what draws visitors in and keeps them engaged, it’s crucial to routinely audit your content for relevance, value, and quality. Content analysis can help you identify which of your pages have high bounce rates or low time-on-site metrics, possibly indicating that your content isn’t resonating with your audience.

Besides, check for potential duplication or plagiarism in your content that could lead to search engine penalties. If the quality or relevance of your content has declined, it could explain your traffic slump and signal that it’s time for a content refresh.

Action: Conduct a thorough content audit. If your bounce rates are high or engagement is low on particular pages, consider updating the content to be more useful, relevant, and engaging to readers. Remember, quality trumps quantity when it comes to content.


#7 Monitor competitor behavior and adjust accordingly

If your competitors have recently ramped up their SEO efforts, or if they’ve started publishing high-quality, relevant content that’s outperforming yours, they might be ranking higher than you in the SERPs. This could be causing your organic traffic to decline.

Regular competitor analysis can help you identify these scenarios and enable you to devise strategies to stay competitive.

Action: Analyze the top-performing content on your competitors’ sites, identify what they’re doing better (e.g., targeting better keywords, creating more engaging content), and adjust your strategies accordingly.


#8 Conduct a comprehensive technical SEO audit

Finally, it’s important to conduct a comprehensive technical SEO audit to identify any potential underlying issues that could be affecting your site’s visibility in search results. Plenty of resources are available online to help perform detailed technical SEO audits, including our Technical SEO Checklist.

Identifying and resolving technical issues can often help regain lost traffic and enhance your site’s overall SEO.

Action: Adjust your crawl budget – check for broken links, incorrect robots.txt files, crawl errors, and XML sitemap issues, and fix them. Also, ensure that your site is secure (HTTPS), as search engines favor secure sites.


Tools for Traffic Drop Analysis

To effectively analyze and diagnose the causes of an organic traffic drop, it’s essential to arm yourself with an array of digital tools designed specifically for this purpose.

From website analytics to SEO analysis and from content to competition and backlink analysis, each tool serves a unique function in this comprehensive process.

Let’s delve into the specifics.

# Website analytics tools: Spotlight on Google Analytics

Website analytics tools provide the vital statistics of your website, tracking everything from traffic to bounce rates and conversion rates.

A leader in this field is Google Analytics, an incredibly powerful and free tool that enables you to monitor your site’s traffic in real-time and provides insights into user behavior.

Its extensive data-gathering capabilities offer an in-depth understanding of your audience’s demographics, behaviors, preferences, and interactions with your site. This enables you to refine your content strategy and identify successful elements of your site and those areas that need improvement.

Understanding these metrics allows you to optimize your website for both users and search engines, helping you create more personalized and effective content.


# SEO analysis tools: Google Search Console, SEMrush, and Ahrefs

Google Search Console is a free tool that offers essential insights into how Google views your site. It provides data on your site’s visibility, indexing status, and any crawl errors or penalties that could be harming your organic traffic.

SEMrush and Ahrefs, on the other hand, are all-in-one SEO tools that offer a comprehensive suite of features. They cover everything from keyword research to site audits, competitive analysis, and backlink tracking.

These tools enable you to take a deep dive into your SEO, helping you identify areas of weakness and opportunity.


# Content analysis tools: Google Trends and Buzzsumo

Google Trends helps you to identify popular topics and search queries over time, giving you valuable insights into what your audience is interested in. This can assist you in tailoring your content strategy to match these trends, potentially boosting your organic traffic.

Buzzsumo, on the other hand, allows you to discover what content performs best for any topic or competitor. By understanding which content is resonating with your audience, you can develop more effective content strategies and keep pace with industry trends.


# Competition analysis tools: SimilarWeb and SpyFu

Keeping an eye on the competition is crucial, and tools like SimilarWeb and SpyFu make this task easier.

SimilarWeb provides a broad view of your competitors’ digital strategies, offering insights into their traffic sources, keyword strategies, and audience interests. This information can help you tailor your approach to stay competitive.

SpyFu focuses on providing insights into your competitors’ SEO and PPC strategies, helping you understand their keyword usage, ad campaigns, and backlinks.

By understanding your competitors’ tactics, you can devise strategies that will give you a competitive edge.


# Backlink analysis tools: Ahrefs and Moz Link Explorer

Backlinks act as endorsements from other websites, signaling to search engines that your content is valuable and trustworthy.

Ahrefs and Moz Link Explorer are powerful tools for backlink analysis. They provide detailed overviews of your backlink profile, helping you identify high-quality links, notice any lost links, and discover new link-building opportunities.

These tools can help you maintain and improve your site’s authority, a key factor in SEO performance.


# Rank tracking tools: SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Google Trends

Tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs provide powerful rank-tracking features, allowing you to monitor your site’s rankings for specific keywords over time. This gives you valuable insights into your SEO performance and the success of your keyword strategy.

Google Trends, while not a rank tracker in the traditional sense, offers a broader view of the popularity of specific search terms over time. This can help you identify emerging trends and adapt your keyword strategy accordingly.



Remember, the key to a healthy website isn’t just attracting traffic but maintaining and growing it consistently.

Don’t be disheartened if you’re facing a drop in organic traffic – it’s a common issue that even the most successful sites face. What matters is that you don’t ignore it.

Instead, consider it a call to action, an invitation to dig deep and uncover the root cause, and an opportunity to make your site better than ever.

Keep user experience at the heart of your strategy, and remember that quality content, solid SEO practices, and a keen understanding of your audience’s needs and behaviors are the foundations of a successful website.

In the end, these challenges can be an opportunity for growth and learning. So, take them as just another part of the journey.

Happy problem-solving, and here’s to your website’s success!


Call to action
If you’ve read this far, it’s clear you’re committed to understanding and solving the mystery of your site’s traffic drop. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer in the realm of SEO and traffic analytics. That’s why a personalized approach can make all the difference. Get in touch with us today for a comprehensive, customized traffic drop analysis.

Aleksander Furgal

Content Specialist



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