The likelihood is that you have found this blog because your website has dropped and you want to know why. Is there something you have done that maybe has caused a sudden drop? Or maybe a search engine has changed the parameters on what it is looking for.
The most common cause of a loss in traffic is an algorithmic update but there are also occurrences of penalisations to your site which you can diagnose and hopefully find a solution for.
1. Organic Traffic Loss
Before jumping to conclusions that the reason you have lost a large share of traffic is because of an update, look into your tracked keywords to see if there is a pattern of steady decline.
Tools like Semrush give you the ability to check how each individual keyword is performing over a set amount of time. Often you will be able to notice trends and patterns enough to know the difference between a naturally occurring drop from an update or a steady decline of your keywords as your competition has naturally outperformed you.
2. Algorithmic updates
Sudden and dramatic drops can be down to algorithmic updates, to which Google is not shy about announcing. The unfortunate part of the system is that Google are very reserved when it comes to announcing specifics on what part of the algorithm has changed, in the short term anyway.
The best way to stay informed is by following Google themselves. One of the most active google webmaster analysts, John Mueller regularly posts on his twitter account about any updates. If you have a theory on what the algorithmic change did, compare as many sites as you can and see what has been favourably forwarded.
3. XML Sitemap changes
Have you made any changes to your sitemap recently? One of the most common mistakes that modern SEO agencies make is not updating a sites sitemap after any substantial work on the site, especially if they have been adding or deleting pages. As a rule of thumb, you should aim to have as many pages as possible pull through with a 200 response, unless a page has been permanently redirected with a 301 response.
4. Spam Attack
Unfortunately, spam attacks are a way of life for any website that is performing well. This is known as “black hat” SEO and is employed by the less ethical members of the digital marketing community. One common form of attack is to build irrelevant and often illegally worded links to your site. This could include anchor text that is criminally inclined or thousands of backlinks from a site with a high spam score.
A programme that we use to detect these links is Ahrefs, which gives a life update of all the new Referring Domains that are linking to your site, as well as the Anchor text. If you spot a link that is clearly harmful, add it to your disavow file which tells google that you do not want to be associated with this site.
5. Keyword Cannibalisation
This is one of the more nuanced problems that occur and takes a keen eye to spot. Google is constantly looking for the best page which suits a keyword best, based on their algorithmic determination. Have you uploaded a page very similar to another already existing on your site? If so, you could be telling Google that this newer page is more relevant to a keyword, which causes competition between the two.
We recommend to always plan your keyword targeting before writing a new page and make sure you know exactly what the purpose of a new page is. There is no harm in creating a new page to rank for a keyword if you feel another has lost its relevance, just make sure it is clear to the search engine what it is that you’re targeting.
6. Poor Content
Since the rollout of panda in 2011, Google has been fine tuning their parameters for what is considered favourable content. In the early days of SEO, Keyword stuffing was common practise and often rewarded. Today there is a very sophisticated list of requirements that your content must meet to ensure that it is read favourably by search engines.
Readable – Is your content easy to understand. Google favours language that is written to a GCSE level, giving you room for expansive and descriptive language but understandable to the average reader
Not enough Content – If you’re trying to present yourself as an authority on a topic, it is important to portrait that through detail. This doesn’t mean that every page requires a thousand words, but enough to demonstrate clear understanding. Thin pages with little to no content on will also be penalised.
7. Poor link Building
Link building may not be as powerful as it previously was in the past, but do not be fooled. Poor link building or no link building can be incredibly harmful to your site and could be a reason for a drop. Both internal and external links are integral to the flow of your site, so adopting a thought out lion building strategy is a great way to increase visibility and the strength of RD towards your site.
Look for healthy, organic links that fit with the industry that you operate in. Google favous pages that are connected to other relevant sites as a source for information and authority.
8. Navigation/User Experience
One of the most overlooked parts of modern websites is the user experience factor. Google spiders are becoming more sophisticated when it comes to determining what users want and if your site is missing the mark, expect penalisation.
Ask yourself, is each page linking to a relevant page that the users might want to visit next? Are there any pages that are hidden. Any page with a click depth higher than 3 will be negatively scored by Google and could count against your site.
9. Manual Actions
The dreaded manual action is something that all website managers dread. Manual actions are spotted by an employee of google and not an algorithmic change but indicate that a page has broken Google’s terms of service. These are very serious and something you will want to fix immediately.
Spot manual actions through Google Search console where you should have a red notification waiting for you. If you’re lucky, Google will offer a suggestion on how to fix the problem and remove the manual action but this still may have a long term negative effect on your website.
If you have checked everything else and you’re confident that there are no technical issues causing a drop in rankings, consider that you simply might be being out performed by your competition. The phrase, “Keep your friends close and your enemies close” could not be more relevant than to the SEO industry. Tools like the way back when machine can give you an insight into what changes your competition may have made, and what you need to do to close the gap.
Ask yourself, are you answering the question that your users are asking better than everyone else. If you have to think about the answer, you probably need to improve your website
The truth is, any experienced website manager will tell you that even the best websites that are fully optimised and technically sound will run into drops, it is part of the way of line for having an online presence. The best course of action is to not panic and get about fixing what you can, outsource what you can’t. Adult Creative have over a decade of experience in managing adult websites, which is one of the most fluctuant industries. If you would like to learn more about what we can do for your website, get in touch today.
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