7 Ways to Diagnose a Drop in Website Traffic Right Now

Man wearing detective clothing looking through magnifying glass.
You walk into the scene of a crime. There is a room full of smoking guns. You don’t know which gun is responsible for the death of your traffic.

It’s your job to put on a detective hat and start investigating the crime. This investigative work takes technical skills and wisdom. There are countless clues that can take you down rabbit holes that end up in dead ends. And then you finally get the culprit.

This cheat sheet shows you how to diagnose a drop in website traffic. It’s not an exhaustive list but can be a good starting point when you’re in a pinch and need to uncover what caused a drop in traffic as quickly as possible.

1. Did You Lose Rankings?

Lost search engine ranking is one of the more common culprits when traffic is down. And if you discover that is the case, you need to figure out why to set the best course of action. I wrote about this in a past article on five things to know when your site loses rankings. The usual suspects include changes to the competition, the algorithm, current events and more.

2. Did You Lose Links?

Dive into your link profile. Has anything changed? If you focus on quality over quantity of links, it will be easy to see if the website that has been sending all that traffic has stopped. Now the question is “why?” You may need to reach out to the webmaster to find out and fix it.

3. Did You Make Changes to the Website?

What changes have you made to your website? If you have only a small team making updates, this step may be easier. Larger companies with many cooks in the kitchen present a challenge. Reach out to team members and review any changes to the website within the past 30 days.

4. Was There a Core Update?

You can bet that Google will do a core update to the algorithm about once every quarter. And although Google says there’s nothing in particular to do if you’ve been impacted by a core update, they do offer some general guidance like focusing on your content.

5. Is There Anything in Your Server Logs?

Server log data can make your eyes cross, but it can also give you much more information than Google Search Console. Server logs can detect any bad links or spam, identify spider traps and more.

6. Did Google Change Something Else?

There are about 11 changes to Google Search each day on average. Plus, there are countless variables when it comes to ranking your webpages. So sleuth around the search results. Did your snippet render differently? Did Google change the way the search results render? Did Google decide your target keywords were now transactional and not informational? There are a lot of hypotheses to explore.

7. How Is Your Reputation?

Got bad reviews? Negative press? Over time, this can add up and chip away at your traffic. For more on this, I recommend reading: Is Sentiment an SEO Trust Signal?

When you start your investigation, start with the pages that have lost traffic. You can then look into keywords for that page and run very specific SEO tools to help you figure out which smoking gun is responsible for the crime.

Need help diagnosing your website performance? Our SEO experts can take a deep dive and provide recommendations that will improve your traffic, ranking and revenue. Reach out to us for a free consultation and let us know how we can help.

Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay Inc., a global digital marketing firm providing search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with him on LinkedIn or through the BruceClay.com website.

See Bruce's author page for links to connect on social media.

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2 Replies to “7 Ways to Diagnose a Drop in Website Traffic Right Now”


Great!! really help me


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