Google provides seven tips for website owners to analyze the main reasons for the decline in natural search traffic.
In an article written by Google’s Daniel Waisberg, the main reasons for the decline in search traffic were identified as:
- technical problem: Errors that may prevent Google from crawling your page, indexing it, or serving the page to users.
- Security Question: Google may remind users before they visit sites with potential security threats, which may reduce search traffic.
- Manual operation: If a website does not meet Google’s guidelines, part of its pages or the entire website may be omitted from Google search results manually.
- Algorithm changes: Core updates and other minor updates may change the performance of the page in Google search results.
- Search interest interrupted: Sometimes, due to new trends or seasonality throughout the year, changes in user behavior will change the demand for certain queries.
Here are some basic examples of what each drop might look like in Google Analytics:
Read on to learn Google’s insights on diagnosing the causes of traffic drops.
Keep reading below
Diagnose a drop in Google search traffic
Google says that the best way to understand what’s happening with website traffic is to open its Search Console performance report and look at the main chart.
The shape of the analysis line will provide some information. Use the following three techniques to dig deeper into the data:
- Change the date range to include 16 months: This will help you analyze the traffic drop in context and ensure that it is not a drop that occurs every year.
- Compare the decline period with similar periods: This will help you see exactly what has changed. Find out whether the impact involves a specific query, URL, country, device, or search appearance.
- Analyze different search types separately: This will help you understand whether the drop you are seeing occurred in a web search, Google Images, Video, or News tab.
Keep reading below
To understand whether the decline is part of a larger trend or specific to your website, Waisberg recommends checking Google Trends.
This may help rule out the following two factors as potential causes of traffic drops:
- Search interest interrupted: People may start searching for different queries or use their devices for different purposes. If there are fewer people searching for your ranking query, it may result in a drop in traffic.
- Seasonal: For example, Google Trends shows that food-related queries have a strong seasonality: people search for food in January, turkey in November, and champagne in December. Different industries have different degrees of seasonality.
Although still in Google Trends, you can gain insight into your search traffic in two ways:
- Check the top queries in your area and compare them to the queries from which you get traffic. If you find that your query is not getting traffic, even if you have content on the topic, make sure it is crawled and indexed.
- Check for queries related to important topics. This may show an increase in related queries, allowing you to optimize for them before your search interest arouses.
For more information, see Google’s full article.