10 Reasons Why Your SEO Traffic & Rankings Have Dropped

By Janet Lee | March 13, 2020 | 10 min read

So you’ve been floating on cloud nine in the SEO space for the past few months, and you log in to find that your site’s key pages have been dropping an average of a full position in one day. Whaat…no! Confusion and frustration kick in, and you’re sitting there with your mind replaying all the team meetings and tactics you’ve incorporated into your campaign.

Before you go pulling your hair out, Big Leap has got your back with 10 common reasons why your SEO traffic has dropped. As an expert in the evolving SEO landscape, we believe it’s vital to understand these issues and provide actionable tips. That way, you’ll be ready to dominate the SERP again and keep your hair and scalp intact! So take a deep breath and read on for our key tips.

For more help converting the right traffic, check out the following:

Your Traffic & Rankings Might Be Dropping Due to….

1. Algorithm Updates

The growing pains are real. One of the reasons why SEO might be the most hated marketing tactic is because the SEO landscape is constantly changing. With Google releasing multiple updates throughout the year, it’s important to stay vigilant.

How to Fix This

Though there isn’t a way to receive direct details on these changes, you can take advantage of algorithm tracking tools such as SEMrush SensorMozcast, and Algoroo, which measure the volatility in search results.

If you find that there have been in fact updates to Google’s algorithm, it’s good to analyze sites that have been hit the hardest by these changes. That way, you can gauge and scope out the kinds of shifts you should or shouldn’t incorporate into your own site.

2. Redirect Errors

If you’re launching a new site or incorporating structural updates, it’s important to make sure that you’re setting up and/or updating proper 301 redirects while you’re at it. Otherwise, you could lose your credibility (no one wants to bump into any broken or outdated pages) and may see a drop in rankings.

How to Fix This

So how do you get started? To set up a redirect, you can use a .htaccess file or a plugin if you’re using WordPress. Be sure that your XML sitemaps, canonical tags, and links are updated as well while you are setting this up.

Let’s not forget that testing any new/updated elements on your site is crucial in creating a seamless experience for users and gaining search engines’ trust. Screaming Frog is a great resource to test your redirects. It will either crawl your website or upload a list of URLs in bulk.

3. Lack of Backlinks

A crucial part of SEO, backlinks from credible websites boost the value and authority of yours. They help search engines interpret the quality of your site and content and assist users in discovering content related to their interests (yours!). If your competitors are earning backlinks but you aren’t, they can rank higher than you and pick up some of your traffic.

How to Fix This

There are several ways to earn backlinks, such as:

  • Conducting outreach to authority sites. Build relationships with sites/businesses that carry valuable content, rank well, and would make ideal partners. Get them to link to your page, so you can improve your ranking.
  • Writing long-form content. Through reviewing 912 million blog posts, Brian Dean and BuzzSumo found that long-form content gets about 77.2% more links than short content. Therefore, focus on punching out longer, well-organized, and in-depth articles that will provide more value to readers and encourage businesses to use these as resources on their sites.

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4. Manual Penalties

Penalty? Yuck. That word always seems to strike a chord, and unfortunately, in the SEO world, this is a real thing. And it may be a reason why your website is getting less traffic.

If a Google reviewer is perusing your site and finds something that goes against Google’s guidelines, they may issue a manual penalty on your site. As a result, your rankings and traffic can plummet.

How to Fix This

So be sure to proactively read through Google’s webmaster guidelines. In addition, check out the Manual Actions section and your Messages Menu in Google Search Console to see if you have any penalties that have been placed on your site.

5. Wrong Keywords Being Tracked

As much as SEO changes, so do users. It’s easy to get so carried away with optimizing the back-end of your website that the actual content on your site gets overlooked. If you have a site that’s been around for years, it might be ranking for keywords that no longer apply to your audience.

How to Fix This

Don’t let your SEO strategy suck, and conduct regular keyword analysis that extensively scopes out focus keywords and long-tail keywords. Since technology such as voice assistant devices are changing the way we are searching for products and answers, it’s vital to stay up-to-date with these advances.

Moreover, be vigilant of the transitions occurring in your industry—how do these affect what and how your target audience is searching for services and products?

6. Server Issues

Your server can go down due to several issues, such as a broken caching function or an empty markup served to Googlebot. If users can’t access your site, then they can’t get what they need and will jump on over to another site.

How to Fix This

Be actively present in the digital space by checking your server logs for any errors and use Google’s Fetch and Render Tool to test how a URL on your site is crawled.

7. Slow Page Speed

Google takes the user experience seriously. Slow load time may be a reason why your website is getting less traffic. As technology advances rapidly, the expectations of consumers rise. Forty percent of consumers will leave a site that takes “more than three seconds to load.”

How to Fix This

Check your site speed using Google PageSpeed Insights. This tool will provide insight into your site’s speed and offer suggestions on how to improve it.

8. Wrong or Duplicate Meta Information

The meta title and description tell search engines what your content is about. So depending on how you’re crafting them, or if you’re even creating them at all, this can decrease your rankings.

How to Fix This

Make sure that your meta information possesses the following key characteristics:

  • They accurately represent your content. Sometimes, when we update our content, we tend to forget to update our meta titles and descriptions accordingly. Consistency is key, so it’s important that your information is uniform across the board. Be sure it also accurately represents your content, as you don’t want to mislead your users.
  • They are descriptive and compelling. As mentioned earlier, be as specific and descriptive as you can. For example, instead of “Cleaning Your Garage”, you can say “The Ultimate Guide to Cleaning Your Garage” to indicate in-depth content that will entice readers to click.
  • They are unique, meaning there are no duplicates. If you have two pages that have the same meta title and description, you basically have two pages competing for the same terms, which will confuse visitors and search engines. You can use Screaming Frog SEO Spider to check for any duplicate meta descriptions.

9. Changes in Click-Through Rates (CTR)

Click-through rates are link clicks divided by its impressions (how many times the link is viewed on the SERP). They reflect how well each organic search result is performing. The number one search result in Google carries an average CTR of 31.7%.

How to Fix This

Check your Google Search Console to see if your website’s CTR has dropped. If it has, start by looking into the following components:

  • Research long-tail keywords. Implementing these into your site helps you build a stronger sales funnel. What does this mean? People who search for “best down jackets under $100” are more likely to buy than people who search for “down jackets”. Therefore, long-tail keywords target the middle and lower part of the funnel.
  • Use descriptive URLs, by incorporating long-tail keywords. URLs that contain a keyword have a 45% higher CTR than URLs that don’t. The keyword will appear on your link preview and encourage people to click.
  • Write effective meta titles and descriptions that have a call to action (CTA) and portray compelling information. According to the same Backlinko source above, title tags that carry a question have a 14.1% higher CTR versus pages that don’t.

10. SERP Layout Changes

Updates to the way search engines display their search results may be a reason why your website is getting less traffic. Google, in particular, has made a lot of changes to their SERP, incorporating features such as snippets, knowledge graphs, and Google’s suggestions that are positioned above the organic results. These changes mean that there are additional elements you must compete with to rank well.

How to Fix This

Analyze your keywords and content and adjust them accordingly. For example, if you want to grab the snippet position, craft your H2s as questions and answer them directly below in the body. Be sure to also analyze your competitors to see what they are doing. Competitor analysis is key in staying ahead of the game.

You can also use a SERP checker such as Ahref’s SERP Checker or AccuRanker’s SERP Checker to analyze your search engine results, evaluate ranking difficulty, and examine organic search traffic.

Buckle In for the Journey: SEO Takes Time and Consistent Effort

If you find that your SEO rankings have dropped, don’t get discouraged. Stay with it! Remember, SEO is constantly changing, so it’s important to have many eyes and ears to guide your campaign. This means reaching out to trustworthy SEO marketing services that can help you spearhead your goals. With time, consistent effort, and strategic tactics, you can see positive and lasting results.

Get Back on Track: Contact Our SEO Experts

Big Leap doesn’t mess around—we’re in it for the long run. Dedicated to providing long-term, sustainable, and customized strategies, we put you and your customers’ needs first. We understand how crucial it is to have an influential presence on the web for your business. If your SEO traffic and rankings aren’t where you want them to be, contact us today for a free site audit to help you get back on track.

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