How to Troubleshoot a Major Decline in Traffic to Your Website

Many issues can cause a decline in traffic. Here are some ways to help figure out why traffic is down.

Video transcript:

Tricia: So, they have had a, there could be several reasons for this, drop in ranking, like people searching for their business. It’s not coming up, and there are a couple of problems that I need to talk to them about and work on. And, I wasn’t sure, but is that something that some of the things in Google Search Console… They have two pages where they’ve got duplicate content.

David: Okay. Well, let’s start there. Let’s just kind of flow chart this.

Tricia: Okay.

David: You said they’ve stopped showing up. And how are you measuring showing up?

Tricia: Let me check.

David: In other words, why did they think they’ve stopped showing up?

Tricia: So, now that I’m saying this, I think that they are having some other issues that I need to talk to them about. And I don’t think it’s not right in the searches. They’re having some issues on the map. And now, there are some different things going on with Google and first service area businesses. There’s something called the Kansas bug. I don’t know if that might be part of it or not. But if you’re a service area business, you hide your address. When people search your location, they should find you. Well, sometimes Google, somehow behind the scenes, gets mixed up, and so, what do they do? They take your country, and they put you in the dead center of the country, which is somewhere in Kansas.

David: As a Kansan, I’m not offended by that. But if I was a service area business, I would be.

Tricia: Yes. Yes. So, I think now, looking at when I search, and I’m right now doing just a brand search, and I am finding them fine on organic Google search. It’s the map that’s having a problem. And I do think that that’s why.

David: So, in the Google My Business analytics, are you seeing a decline in impressions? Because one of the things we want to do first is determine if there is objective data here, before we conclude… So, sometimes clients will come to me and be like, I’m not finding myself or whatever. So, I want to rule out user error on their part.

Tricia: Yes. Okay.

David: Right? Something weird that they’re doing wrong. And I want to confirm that with data, like a drop in analytics, a drop in traffic, a drop in impressions. And I know you agree that the data in Google My Business is really bad. But with the impression data, I’d like to give Google the benefit of the doubt that they’re telling you the truth.

Tricia: Yeah. So, they have had a drop in the last two weeks.

David: But what percentage or ratio would you estimate the drop is?

Tricia: Let me see. Half. They’re getting half of the traffic.

David: Okay. So that is a significant decline. So, that does suggest that something’s going on. And so, then we can show we’re confident something’s really affecting them. Okay. And so, tell me more about this Kansas bug that’s showing people in the center of the country rather than…

Tricia: Yeah, but I’m having a hard time determining if this actually is the case for them. And the reason is that when I search for them, normally, you come up at the top of the Google maps search, but you have to scroll way down. That’s part of it. The thing is, sometimes when you were searching, all of a sudden they moved to the center of the US, and you’re like, well, that’s not where they are. But when I do that, they’re not moving to the center of the US. I’m not sure exactly if that’s what’s happening or not.

David: Okay.

Tricia: It happened a year and a half or two years ago. And it kind of got fixed. Now, it seems that there are more reports of it. So, it’s some kind of Google bug that we have to report and figure out. But I do think that I want to check and make sure that’s what it is.

David: So, as someone who looks at this frequently, have you noticed any new competitors showing up?

Tricia: No.

David: Okay. Because everybody ultimately is a narcissist, right? And so, they say, it’s me that’s at fault. Right? Or maybe it’s a lack of confidence. It’s my fault. But sometimes, when competitors show up, we show up less, and so they could be bounced out because a new competitor showed up or just recently started doing marketing. I’ve noticed that when people start doing things, sometimes Google artificially inflates them. And I think Google does that for a couple of reasons. Number one, they want you to think, oh yeah, this Google stuff is awesome. And they give you a little bit of a boost. And two, Google wants to see if you… It’s AB testing you. It’s testing to see if your new thing will perform. So, if there are no new competitors pushing them down…

Tricia: Yeah.

David: Then I’d look in Google My Business to see if there are any recent suggestions. Because you know how they will show you that someone has given you new information on your profile?

Tricia: Yeah. Oh yeah.

David: Is there anything like that?

Tricia: This isn’t a full client that I’m working on. So, I need to ask them about that.

David: Because I noticed with one of my client’s Google My Business listings, someone nefariously went in and changed their state.

Tricia: Oh, Wow. Yes. And those are things you’ll typically see when you go and log in. There’ll be the little edit thing. It’ll have a red dot. And that’s where you click on and see if something has changed, and you need to either accept it if it’s correct or reject it if it’s not correct.

David: Exactly. Exactly. And that’s why I think it’s really good to keep up with it. I sometimes will forget to, but keep up because I’ve noticed things like that.

Tricia:  Yes.

David:  Okay. Another thing I want to check is, is there a seasonality to their business? So right now, it’s the beginning of fall. And so, it’s a transition period in the United States. So, for some businesses, that means business picks up because business is very slow in the summer, but other businesses are very high in the summer. And when people go back to school, business tanks. We want to rule out some sort of seasonality.

Tricia: Yeah.

David: Have you looked at Google trends for their space? Because that’s going to show us how people search. And what you can do is you can look back at the last five years. And you might see a hump in summer and a decline in September. And because impressions are a function of searches, you can have the impressions affected by not only things like you’re not showing up or a Google glitch or something. But it can show up as fewer people searching for you. The other thing along that line is oftentimes, clients segment their marketing such that they say this is the SEO job, and this is the other marketing job. And they don’t think they matter to each other, so they don’t tell you, oh, I just stopped the major billboard.

Tricia:  Ah, ah.

David: All right. Okay. And so. If they stopped a form of marketing that might have been, for instance, affecting their brand searches, let’s say the big billboard. Normally, billboards like that are pretty poor investments. But they can inflate people searching for a business’s name and. And so, to stop doing something like that might result…. So, you might ask, have you recently changed any of your marketing tactics? Have you stopped paid Facebook ads? Did the new yellow pages come out, and you decided not to pay for that this year? Right?

Tricia: Yeah.

David: What’s happened recently to rule out other things that can make SEO worse? And so, these kinds of issues are worth having a conversation about. What’s great about these conversations is they can really, especially if, as you said, this isn’t quite a client yet, you can really show the value you bring.

Tricia: Yeah. Okay.

David: Those are the things off hand that I would check.

Tricia: Okay. That definitely helps. So, I’ve got a few things I want to talk with them about. So yeah. Perfect. Okay. Thank you. I need to get that on my list because I sometimes forget about Google trends.

David: Everybody does.

Tricia: Okay. Yeah.

Have a question about this process? Ask it here:

Get started doing SEO today

SEO seems hard- you have to keep up with all the changes and weed through contradictory advice. This is frustrating and overwhelming. Curious Ants will teach you SEO while bringing your website more traffic and customers- because you’ll learn SEO while doing it.