Traffic Dropped? 8 Things to Check for a Proper Diagnosis
An organization’s digital customer experience is a significant factor in determining how well that same business does in the real world. Potential customers look to a business’s website for everything from getting support to buying products and finding more information about what the business offers. The website is often the strongest indicator of whether or not it’s worth a customer’s time and money to engage.
Because the web is such an influential factor in making buying decisions, keeping track of the metrics that determine success is a given. And while traffic is often seen as a vanity metric because it doesn’t necessarily determine revenue impact, traffic is still an indication of how well your message is resonating and growing with potential buyers.
Which is why finding that traffic is dropping can quickly induce a panic. If you find that your website traffic is dropping, it, unfortunately, could be for a multitude of reasons. Here, we’re going to break down eight details to check to ensure you get a proper diagnosis. Let’s take a closer look.
1. The Decline
The first thing to check for is how big of a decline there is. A sharp decline can come from significant changes to your website layout, slow site speed, servers crashing, or poor email marketing strategies. A steady decline can also indicate poor marketing strategies over a long period of time or a lack of mobility features.
To avoid sharp declines, try to implement significant changes in stages, and A/B test to isolate which change negatively affected your site. A/B testing allows you to determine if the changes are good or bad prior to finalizing them.
To avoid steady declines, make small changes to tested issues and be Agile with your marketing strategies. If something isn’t resonating, pivot and try to save the time you’ve already investing by tweaking it rather than entirely overhauling it.
2. Website Layout
Next, ask this basic question: Is your website layout SEO-friendly? We’re not going to go into all of the specifics of SEO because that would require its own article. If you’re not familiar, Google uses a specific algorithm to rank websites based on how relevant and organized they are and how easy it is for customers to navigate the website. You want to ensure your theme promotes easy navigation for website visitors and menus are easy to find.
You can be the most popular business in the world selling the best product of our lifetimes, but if your website is impossible to navigate or looks like you put no effort into the design, visitors will assume it’s reflective of your everyday practices. Small changes go a long way, too. Button layout, text, and color can be a significant factor regarding conversions. Use split testing here to optimize your site to its fullest potential.
3. Social Media Activity
How active is your business on social media? Are you active on social media? If not, it’s time to reevaluate. If you’re not active on social media, you’re really doing yourself and your business a disservice. There’s no other way to reach so many people so quickly, so why not spend some time on making sure you don’t just have accounts, but you’re paying attention to them, and your potential customers?
If weeks have gone by since you last posted on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, that might explain the drop in traffic. Follow certain hashtags, respond to customer inquiries, and promote your business to ensure people can find your website.
Hire a social media manager to stay active and include links with every post to increase the odds of improving web traffic.
4. Servers Are Down
One extremely common issue many websites deal with is that the servers aren’t capable of handling all the traffic your website is receiving. If the servers are constantly going down, that obviously means not a lot of visitors are on your website. If you’re seeing consistent, sharp declines in website traffic, that could be the reason why.
In that case, investing in more efficient servers is necessary—and worthwhile, considering more traffic typically leads to more sales opportunities.
Install a website uptime monitor to receive notifications whenever your servers are going down. Even if it goes down for only a couple minutes at a time every hour or so, that can lead to a significant decrease in traffic.
5. Google Penalties
Essentially, a Google penalty is when Google stops displaying your site in searches. No Google visibility, no organic traffic.
Thin content, unnatural links to your site, and user-generated spam are three of the most common sources of penalties that can play a role in decreasing web traffic. If your articles are copied from other websites or if you’re only offering spun content, you can get penalized for thin content.
If you’re not building links the right way and you’re participating in link schemes to boost SERPs, you can get penalized for that as well.
Google has never liked spammers, and they’ll penalize you quickly if they suspect you’re deploying “black-hat” SEO techniques. To avoid this, simply be aware of approved SEO practices and standards.
This is another important part of an effective SEO strategy that needs constant attention. If you’re not focusing on the metadata when posting articles or pictures on your website, Google will have a hard time understanding when to show your website to visitors.
If you’re writing articles, include a meta description and tags; if you’re posting pictures, make the file name and alt text consistent with whatever keywords you want to rank for.
Consistency is key when it comes to SEO strategies. If you have a strong SEO strategy that ties in with your marketing strategy, you should see your traffic increase again.
7. Investigate Recent Changes
Some recent changes that are easy to check are URL structure changes. Did you change your URL structure sitewide or tweak a particular post’s URL? If so, you need to make sure you create a 301 redirect to the new URL. If you’re not 301 redirecting your links and URLsafter making a change, visitors aren’t going to see your page and will instead be served a 404 page.
Other changes that can, and should, be investigated are your analytics accounts. Accurate reporting is an absolute essential going forward. Make sure you have Google Analytics, Search Console, Google Tag Manager, or an equivalent tool set up properly and giving you accurate reports.
But, if you don’t ensure your account is updated on a regular basis, you can be looking at the wrong numbers, seeing things are great when in reality they’re not. For example, filter out internal traffic and ensure that you change the IP address if you move offices. Or, if your site changes from http:// to https://, don’t forget to update the account info.
Maybe you’ve checked out everything and you’re still losing traffic. Now’s the time to ask what your competitors are up to.
If they have a more engaging marketing strategy than you, if they have a more SEO-friendly website or just better user experience in general, there’s a good chance they could be ranking higher than you.
And if they’re ranking higher than you, they’re getting more traffic than you. The difference ranking can make in website traffic is monumental. If you’re not paying attention to what your competitors are doing and trying to do better than them, they’re going to out-rank you and take your visitors.
The Final Word
Traffic drops are common, but when they’re consistent or they’re too sharp to have control over, that’s an indicator that you need to start diagnosing the potential issues we’ve listed. Many of these issues have quick fixes. Some can be fixed with A/B testing, too. Simple things like button layout and color can make all the difference.
The point, however, is to ensure you’re paying attention to all aspects of your website. When that fails, look to your competitors to see what they’re doing right and how you can improve.
It’s important you’re optimizing your business’s website on a regular basis because customers typically view your website as a model for your entire business. If it’s not clear, visitors will assume your business isn’t worth dealing with. Layouts have to be current as well. Just think about every time you’ve gone to a website and saw it was still stuck in the early 2000s. The little details matter to customers who are spending more time online. If you ignore them, your traffic will continue to drop.