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How to Explain a Drop In Traffic

Writing by Nick Stamoulis in Internet Marketing

If you’re a marketing manager that is responsible for your company’s SEO campaign you know that with each month comes reporting. How many visitors did the site get this month from organic search? What keywords are being used to drive traffic and which of those are converting the best? How many referring links did you build this month and did any of them send substantial traffic? When traffic is up then life is good, right? What happens when there is a drop in traffic one month? Or worse, for a few months in a row. How can you explain a drop in traffic so your management doesn’t start to lose faith in SEO?

Here are 4 things to look at that might explain your drop in traffic:

1. A major promotional campaign ended.

Let’s say your company was launching a new product and you were doing a big promotional campaign for it—press releases, blog reviews, banner ads, a video marketing push, extra content marketing efforts and so forth. All of that activity around your brand is going to drive more visitors to your site because you’re a “hot” topic. But when that promotional buzz dies down chances are you’ll see a drop in traffic alongside it because something else is the big news. This doesn’t mean your SEO is failing, it just means you’re turbo boost of a promotional campaign has ended.

2. Branded keywords are sending fewer visitors.

If fewer people are searching for your company or branded products than there isn’t much SEO can do to help. Yes, SEO can have an impact on branded keywords but you can’t make someone search for something. For a large business with a powerful online presence, their branded keywords might account for 30+% of their organic traffic. If you see a big drop in traffic I’d look at your branded keywords first—if those are down across the board than you know your SEO is still working, it’s just the search volume that has changed.

3. Something happened to your website.

Did you launch a new website recently? If something went wrong with the new site it might explain the drop in traffic. Maybe old URLs weren’t redirected properly or maybe the search engines haven’t completed indexed all your new pages. Did your site go offline for some reason recently? Maybe your hosting company suffered a glitch or your security was breached?

I’ve also seen instances where the Google Analytics tracking code was removed from the site for some reason (usually by mistake) which meant one day you login and your traffic is at zero. Don’t panic! Make sure that code has been properly added to every page of your website before you assume your site is dead in the eyes of the search engines.

4. Seasonality is at play.

Compare your slow month to the same time last year. Notice any similarities? Every business has busy and slow seasons; it’s just the nature of the beast. For instance, a Christmas tree farm is probably not getting much attention in July, but traffic will skyrocket in late November and early December. Your seasonality might not be that dramatic but it can definitely cause a noticeable drop in traffic.

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