10 Reasons your Website Traffic Declined

The internet is unpredictable; a few seemingly minor changes can lead to a sudden decline in your website traffic. Between web search engine algorithm updates and adding fresh content on websites, managers can be overwhelmed.

When you notice a decline in your web traffic, don’t chalk it up to a bad day or week. Instead investigate the issue to lessen its impact on your long term site rank. Use the checklist below to locate and resolve any issues causing your website to lose traction. These 10 Common Issues are broken down into 4 categories.

Changes to the Website

Addition of Links

If your website has recently had any links added to it, the value of these links could be the cause of a temporary decline. Verify if this is the cause by utilizing Ahrefs or Majestic, which are backlink tools. These tools help identify any related trends of the added link which in turn can cause issues for your website.

Loss of Links

If you have recently done any maintenance removing links that can impact your website traffic as well. The outcome of removing the link will be directly based on the value of the link itself. Links help search engines to verify the authority of a page. Those less authoritative links or pages are given less value in terms of rankings. Substantiate that the links shown as lost (utilizing the same tools mentioned above) were meant to be lost and do not offer any updated version to create alternate backlink too.

Dropped Redirections

A redirect is when a web page is visited at a certain URL, it changes to a different URL. There are many reasons for redirects, especially website updates, rebranding efforts, etc. If a redirect is lost or altered it can cause an adverse impact on ranking performance. Check that any redirects associated on the site are live and free from error. If not fix them ASAP to stop the loss of traffic.

Changes to Search Algorithms

Algorithm Changes

Search engines will roll out algorithm updates which can reorganize pages based on new rankings. Most recently Google updated their algorithm to reflect a higher value on sites with social activity and mobile friendly formats. Those websites that did not meet their altered criteria saw a decline in traffic due to a change in ranking.

Often these updates are made very public and discussed in length before taking place but it is always best to check if you missed a change. Websites such as Mozcast and Google’s Algorithm Tool will be able to shed light on the variation in your site’s traffic loss if due to these alterations.


A search engine penalty is a negative impact on a website’s search ranking. These penalties are often a direct result from a change in algorithms, however, they can also be given in response to a trend such as bad SEO techniques.

Usually the search engine will send a direct message informing you of a penalty. It will most likely be located in the search console. This is the primary method of communication between search engines and webmasters.

Technical Fouls

Back to the Fundamentals

It can be easy to overlook the bones of your site but to truly diagnose a problem you should go back to basics and double check your fundamentals. A great way to verify any issues going on can be to utilize Hubspot’s website grader. It will tell you if pages are loading slowly, if meta tags are missing or other internal elements need correcting. Once you’ve run your website through the grader work to correct the issues.

Be Aware of Changes

Companies with only one hand on the website are few and far between. When traffic becomes an issue communicate with your team working on the site to verify if any unscheduled changes took place and discuss the impact. Depending on the change it may be a waiting game to regain traffic or an action may need to be taken.

Server Issues

Server issues are often above the heads of your everyday professional, so don’t feel overwhelmed. Try to contact the individuals responsible for the server functions and verify if they have identified any issues and match them to times that traffic is lost. If an issue is wrong with the server, simply work with server support to make sure that it is being rectified.  *I personally recommend saving this towards the end, unless server issues have taken place before.

User Based Behavioral Changes

Search Behavior Changes

When certain search trends occur Google may change the type of results it wants to provide its users. For instance, if a tragedy takes place in a town, googling that town may return news articles and more timely information related to that location. The previous top ranking pages are most likely buried and may remain there for the peak of the news element.

There is nothing that a site manager can do in this case. Be sure to note the reason for the loss and check to verify that heightened results return after the headlines begin to fizzle out. This can happen from time to time to any business and is not necessarily foreseeable.

Click-through Rate Changes

Click through rates are the percentage of people visiting a web page who access a hypertext link to a particular advertisement. Overall this may be the least impactful issue, however declining click through rates can lead to declining traffic. Track your click through rates on dates and times when traffic is lost compared to your averages over the last 90 days. This is an easy trend to spot especially if you pull reports monthly or quarterly on your website’s performance which is highly recommended.

Whenever a decline in website traffic becomes a concern start by working your way backwards to identify the root cause. For some this will prove to be an easy task, while others may pour more time and energy into finding the cause. Use each hiccup as a learning experience, if you see a similar decline in the future you will be better off knowing where to start and the projected time it can take to get the issues resolved.

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