Author: Forbes Agency Council
Original Publication: Forbes
Date Published: June 2, 2018
For companies that generate most of their leads and sales online, bringing in steady website traffic is critical. That’s why a sharp decline in traffic sends the average business into full-on panic mode.
While you should be concerned about a sudden dip in site visits, there’s often a logical explanation for it, if you know where to look. Sometimes it’s a simple and fast fix – a coding error, for instance – while in other cases, such as an algorithm change, it might take a bit longer to bounce back. Either way, it’s important to look for the root of the problem so you can fix it.
Ten Forbes Agency Council members explain some potential reasons your site’s traffic may have tanked, and what you can do about it.
1. Tracking Tags
The simplest explanation for a sudden and unexpected drop in website performance is often analytics tags failing to fire. Always check tracking first to make sure website visitors are being accounted for before making drastic changes. Reconciling tracking issues will help mitigate the long-term impact. Additionally, making friends with your IT department will help avoid issues before they arise. – Nina Hale, Nina Hale / Performance Digital
2. The Front End Of Your Website
3. Google Analytics
When the world is crashing around you, trust the data. Dive into Google Analytics and try to pinpoint where things went south. Think back on marketing tactics you recently pushed live and find the correlation. This should lead you to an internal audit, where you may discover an internal tool is broken or an external force is impacting your site. – Kirk Deis, Treehouse 51
4. Google Search Console
If you don’t stay up to date on major Google algorithm changes, you’re falling behind. If your site is not mobile-friendly, improperly secured or using outdated practices for SEO, your rankings may be dropping. Check your Search Console, work with your team to fix the problem, and start subscribing to the right resources to avoid this in the future. – Stewart Gandolf, Healthcare Success
5. Traffic Sources
After confirming that there’s no recent update to search algorithms throwing things out of whack, identify which traffic source has seen the greatest decline – direct, referral, organic, paid, social. After pinpointing the source, work backward to determine what actions (or inactions) could be at fault. Check your content consumption and be sure it is on point with your target audience. – Keri Witman, Cleriti
When we see a sharp decline in traffic, we first check the site’s code. During site changes and redesigns, SSL and 301 redirects are often overlooked, causing Google to de-index the site’s pages and search rankings to drop. The drop in rankings can dramatically decrease visitors. So when building a new site or making changes to your current one, double-check your redirects before pushing live. – Michael Weinhouse, Logical Position
7. The Bigger Customer Engagement Picture
Don’t panic, and take a step back to see the bigger picture. Perhaps customers are engaging with your website primarily on mobile rather than desktop. If your mobile site isn’t optimized or they are instead using your app, then this could be why. This gives you insight into how consumer behaviors change over time and where they are most likely to engage with your brand. – Preethy Vaidyanathan, Tapad
8. External Backlinks
A client once had a downward trend in organic traffic. We audited all the checklist items to figure out what the issue was and we were stumped. We then evaluated the search trends of their top backlinks and found that their highest authority backlink had the same drop. To fix our client site, we had to fix the referring site. External forces are sometimes just as important as internal factors. – Brett Farmiloe, Markitors
9. The Last Item That Changed On Your Site
When diagnosing an issue, you need to think back to what was the last item that changed. It could be a code push that somehow removed analytics from your site, it could have been a change to content that has caused a decline in search traffic. Did you make a change to your advertising? Sudden declines (or increases) are often traceable back to the last modification (big or small) that was made. – Greg Kihlstrom, Yes& Agency
Check whether you are getting “adblocked” by any browsers, which may be redirecting traffic from your site. Also check on whether you might have had “false” traffic coming to your site from foreign websites, which was then rectified and now has new accurate website traffic numbers. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, hawthornedirect.com