7 Potential Reasons Your Website Traffic Has Dropped
As we wrote about recently understanding how effective your website is and knowing the numbers behind it is an important part of ensuring your marketing efforts, and your website itself, are up to date and making the impact you want with your customers. After all, if you don’t know if what you’re doing is working, there’s no way of changing or improving, and no way of ensuring you are getting the best results for your business.
As a service to our clients we send out a monthly Google Analytics report consisting of website traffic and a select few other key data points. These numbers are compared with those for the previous month, and while some fluctuation is natural, especially for seasonal businesses, it can be a good way of highlighting negative or positive trends.
If your numbers are dropping it’s important to figure out why this is the case, and whether it’s a cause for making changes, or simply a blip. So with that in mind, here are some of the more common potential reasons for why your website traffic may have dropped.
Know What You’re Tracking
Firstly it must be established just what you’re tracking. Because before you make any conclusions or changes, you need to know exactly what it is you’re looking for. An effective business website isn’t as simple as just having as high of a volume of traffic as possible, especially if the high volume isn’t translating to sales or bookings.
Make sure you know exactly what your goals are: whether it’s sales or bookings, diverting attention to a new product, or reaching a broader audience. Once you know that, you can pinpoint which metrics are important to you, and measure your success in those areas.
1. You’re Using Outdated Language
Websites can be infrequently updated, and if the website has been online for many years without changes, it may be that it is no longer being perceived as relevant by Google’s search algorithms.
Industry terminology, as well as broader search trends, and algorithmic parameters change over time, and if your website wording doesn’t reflect this you may not be generating the kind of search results and website traffic you’re looking for.
This isn’t just something that applies to the wording of your content; it also applies to the meta descriptions and title tags that make up the backbone of your content. These descriptions are intended to summarize a page and provide important information to search engines, making them vitally important to not only include, but to ensure the effectiveness of them.
Potential fix: update the content on the website and update the meta descriptions and title tags.
2. Changes Within The Algorithm
One of the biggest reasons you should be updating your content regularly is also one of the most common causes for a potential drop in your traffic: changes to the Google search algorithm.
Navigating the often inscrutable and frequent changes within the internal mechanics of Google’s search engine is one of the most difficult challenges for any digital marketing strategy, and many a website has seen its position in search rankings drop as a result of these changes.
However, if your business is in this position, you can at least rest assured that others in your industry will be in the same boat, making this an opportunity for you to gain ground on your competitors, as well as giving you a chance to reflect on your broader strategy for your digital presence.
Potential fix: utilize an effective cross-channel strategy, one where traffic is brought in through social media and other marketing channels.
3. Static or Duplicate Pages
There are a number of factors that determine where a website is placed in relevant search results, but one of the easiest to observe and control is duplicate content. If there are two pages offering the same information, the more recent post or page is more likely to show up higher. Likewise, if there is a trend towards searching for a particular topic, static or older content may get pushed even further down.
Potential fix: ensure that your content on both your website pages and your blog is updated on a periodic basis. For example, if you have successful blog posts from years ago, you can edit the post to include any more recent information and a note saying “blog last updated on X date”.
4. You’ve Fallen Behind Your Competitors
No business exists in a vacuum, and your success isn’t just determined by what you’re doing, but by what changes your competitors are making, and this is true of website traffic. This is why it’s useful to keep track of your competitors' online presence and content marketing.
Understanding this will help you figure out what changes you can be making, as well as making sure you know what the latest trends in your industry are.
Potential fix: do what your competitors are doing, only better.
5. A Decline In Page Speed
Page speed is one of the most important hidden factors in determining how well a website performs, as page speed will affect both how well your website performs in search rankings, and the user experience for your customers.
Typically, if the pages on your website take longer than 3 seconds to load, this will affect your bounce rate, meaning the number of visitors leaving the site after visiting only one page. A higher bounce rate will mean search algorithms consider your site less valuable, and position it lower.
Potential fix: there are a number of things that can affect page speed, such as image size, plugins, and videos, so make sure that each element on the site is not contributing too much to load time.
6. You’re Losing Traffic From Other Sources
So far in this post we’ve focused on website traffic from search engine searches and how they can be affected by your website, but your website visitors will likely come from a variety of sources, all of which can be viewed in your Google Analytics’ reports.
The most common sources of website traffic are:
- Direct Traffic
- Email marketing
- Organic search
- Paid search
- Social media
Check to see where the number of website visitors are down from. Taking the example of social media, if you’ve been reliant on that as one of your main sources, and it has since dropped off, the root cause of your problem more than likely lies not in your website but in your social media strategy and/or the algorithm.
7. Natural Ebb And Flow
Sometimes a trend is a cause for concern, but sometimes it’s a part of the natural cycle of your business. Even if you’re not a traditionally seasonal business, you will no doubt have periods where you expect to do well, and periods where you expect a lull or a downturn.
It’s important to keep this in mind when evaluating your website traffic numbers, and a greater cause for concern would be if your numbers are dropping at a time when you’re expecting higher traffic or sales volume.
A decline in traffic is an understandable cause for concern for any business. but it isn’t something you necessarily should stress out over. Especially when it could be a temporary blip or a part of a natural ebb and flow.
What is more important than reacting to a downturn is being proactive no matter what, and staying on top of your online presence to ensure you’re always making the most of your business opportunities.
Not everyone can be an expert when it comes to what to look for in these areas, so if you want to stay on top of your game, get in touch with us today and find out how we can help you with Google Analytics and keep your website running as it should.