When dealing with a decline in traffic it is important to determine the source of the problem. Is the change something indirect that you can’t control such as change in a search algorithm or a new competitor in the market, or is the change due to something more direct, like recent (well intentioned) changes to your site or a a server outage?
The clues are all in your Analytics data.
- Is the loss from a single referer (Google, Yahoo, Bing)?
- Is the traffic loss clustered around a specific keywords or phrases?
- Has your website been off-line due to a server outage or update?
- Is there a basic configuration issue, such as an incorrectly written “No Index” entry in the robots.txt file?
- What changes, if any were made to the website preceding the loss?
Jill Whalen with High Rankings in Boston has a really great write-up on looking for the root of the problem here.
- Determine what type of traffic loss you’re dealing with.
- Look at the extent of the traffic loss.
- Compare apples to apples.
- Review and filter out “brand” traffic.
- Analyze which keyword phrases have had a significant decrease in visitors.
- Do a quick Google search for the phrases.
- Review the landing page for the keyword phrase that lost traffic.
- Review your long-tail traffic.
- Decide if you’re dealing with a search engine penalty