With the ever changing search engine algorithms, ranking factors, personalization, machine learning, etc., keeping your organic search visibility high is a constant battle. And that’s not even taking into account the new SERP layouts! If you’ve included search engine optimization within your integrated marketing plan for any length of time, chances are, you’ve experienced a drop in organic search traffic at some point.
So how do you troubleshoot why your organic traffic has dropped? Here are 5 items I recommend you start with when looking for the solution to this problem.
1. Check that tracking code is still on all pages.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it happens often. You launch a new website, or make some design changes and the tracking codes aren’t ported over. Use a tool such as http://www.gachecker.com/ to ensure the appropriate Google Analytics code is on all pages. The Google Tag Assistant extension for Chrome is also a nice spot checking tool.
2. Check your robots.txt file and no index tags.
Again, this one may seem like a gimmie, but especially when launching a redesign or a new page, either there’s a robot.txt file that got brought over from the development website or a noindex, nofollow tag on the pages.
3. Check Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.
If you do not have Google Search Console or Bing Webmaster Tools already in place, I highly recommend you create accounts and verify them for your website. These tools can provide information on crawling errors, indexing problems, usability, security threats and more that could assist in diagnosing the cause of the organic traffic drop.
4. Dive further into your Google Analytics or tracking platform.
First start with looking at how long the drop has been occurring. Is it a sudden drop or one that has been steadily happening over several months? Next, also review changes in traffic and behavior on your organic landing pages. Is there a drop across all pages or are there a handful of pages primarily responsible for the decrease in your organic search traffic? Were changes made to those pages recently? What changes could be made to strengthen them?
5. Request a SEO Audit.
If you already have a good Online Marketing agency, then this is most likely already in progress. If you don’t have an agency, or the one you have is dropping the ball, now is the time to get the right partner involved. An SEO Audit will start looking at all aspects of the website. Technical architecture, backend functionality, content analysis, lining, etc. Due to the complexity of the search engine landscape, a professional is highly recommended in situations where the basic items are coming up short.