Frank Olivo

Frank Olivo is the founder of Sagapixel. He writes on a number of topics related to digital marketing, but focuses mostly on SEO.

Why Did My Organic Traffic Drop?: Traffic Drop Analysis Using GSC

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Why did my organic traffic drop? In this video, I’m going to share how you can use Google Search Console to figure out why there was a sudden drop in organic traffic to your website. If you are a technical SEO at Sagapixel, this is training material. You should be doing this every single month for every single one of our clients. Let’s get into it.

My name is Frank. I’m the founder of Sagapixel. I use Google Search Console to do the task that I’m about to spell out to you probably three or four times a month when it comes to our website. This is what that process looks like.

If you would like to meet with us to talk about the potential causes of a recent drop in organic traffic to your website, please click here.

Identify Pages & Queries Behind Organic Traffic Drops

First, you need to find what pages were behind the drop in organic website traffic. Then, you want to see what queries were behind the organic traffic loss.

Possible Reasons for Organic Traffic Drops

We need to figure out why there was a decrease in clicks, which is usually going to be for one of four reasons.

Drop in Average Search Rank

Number one, and probably the most common, you had a drop in average search rank. In other words, you moved from positions one to two, and you lost a third of your traffic.

New Feature in Search Results

The second most common scenario is that there was a new feature in the search results. In other words, you still are at position one, but now there’s a feature set above you, and you saw a drop of 40% in organic traffic as a result.

More Compelling Competitor Titles

The third most common scenario is that you’re in the same position or roughly the same position, but now you have a competitor that just has a much more compelling title on their website. There’s something about it that makes people want to click on that and not yours.

Decrease in Impressions

Scenario number four, which does happen but is probably the least common of these four, is that you had a decrease in impressions. It may have been a seasonal type of query that you were targeting, or maybe something that is just no longer trending the way it was before. I saw this with a lot of queries related to the pandemic back in 2020 and 2021.

Using Google Search Console to Diagnose Organic Traffic Drops

Let’s get into actually using Google Search Console to diagnose lost traffic issues.

Identify Long-term Traffic Trends

First, fire up Google Search Console. You’re going to go over to your property. We’re going to go over to where it says date, and I’m going to set this to compare.

As a matter of fact, first you should start off by just looking at the long-term trends just to see if there’s anything that you see, possibly like an overall decay in traffic over time, or if there are any other trends that you should notice. In this case, I’m not really seeing a ton.

The first thing you’re going to be checking is going to be comparing the last 28 days to the previous 28 days, or possibly you’re going to be comparing the last 90 days to the previous 90 days.

Identify Long-term Traffic Trends

Check Pages Report for Major Traffic Drops

The next thing we’re going to do is go to the pages report. We’re going to sort this by clicks difference. If I want to look at the articles that have seen the biggest drop in traffic, I’m going to get that. And if I want to see the ones that have seen the biggest increases in traffic, I’m going to get that too.

If you’re concerned about a drop in traffic, you’re going to be ordering them by the largest decrease. Once I have it ordered in that way, I’m going to check these one by one. I’m going to click on this first one that saw the biggest drop out of all of these.

Check Pages Report for Major Traffic Drops 

Pro tip: you should also check to see if any of these have gone to zero. That could be a scenario where you had a URL that got changed, or an article that inadvertently was deleted, or some sort of other major issue. There are too many scenarios where you should have pages that are going from even 75 clicks to zero clicks in the matter of a month.

Analyze Findings Based on Common Reasons for Organic Traffic Drops

I’m going to start checking the things that I mentioned at the earlier part of the video. First, have we seen a decrease in average position for the queries that were driving traffic?

So now that I’ve selected this page and I’m only looking at the traffic from this page, I’m going to go over to the queries tab. The next thing that I want to do is order the clicks difference, just like I did for the pages.

Analyze Findings Based on Common Reasons for Organic Traffic Drops 

In this case, I’m seeing “my website doesn’t show up on Google search” had the biggest decrease in clicks. I’m going to disengage the impressions. I’m going to enable the average position, and then scroll down a little bit. So, over the last 28 days, we’ve averaged position 6.2, and in the previous 28 days, we averaged position six, so it’s basically the same.

Select the page with the biggest drop. Check if there’s a decrease in average position for the queries driving traffic. Go to the Queries tab and order by clicks difference. Look at the average position for the last 28 days versus the previous 28 days.

Evaluate Decreases in Impressions

Next question: was there a decrease in impressions? Were fewer people looking for this? Was this something that was trending and stopped trending? What’s going on here? We’re getting significantly fewer clicks for the same search.

As I enable total impressions, the impressions actually went up a bit. That’s almost a 30% increase right there, so it’s not that fewer people are looking for this.

Investigate Search Engine Results

Next, we’re going to take a look at the actual search engine results and Google trends. Going to take this query, open an incognito tab, throw that in there. The first thing I’m seeing is there is a featured snippet there that may not have been there before. It doesn’t surprise me that we’ve seen a decrease in traffic, and there’s a featured snippet.

Investigate Search Engine Results 

As I scroll down a little bit, I’m also seeing this carousel of videos. I haven’t been monitoring the search results for this query, but there’s a good chance that that carousel is new.

As I scroll down the page, I’m seeing other web pages that are ranking here. Apparently, Squarespace has a forum that is ranking here. You know, we have some pages from Google and from Ahrefs, some very authoritative websites.

This could be a scenario where a competitor with a very strong brand, like Google or Ahrefs, is now ranking for this query, and they weren’t before. People don’t really have a reason to scroll past it, and even though we haven’t dropped in position, people really don’t have a reason to scroll down to position six for this search result. This could be a case where Google’s search results have possibly improved, and we’re not getting the traffic.

Improve Your Title Tag to Increase Organic Traffic

At this point, I would usually check the search rankings to see if there’s just something that we can do with our title tag to make it more enticing to people, to make them want to click on it and increase organic traffic.

Boost Your Website’s Organic Traffic with Sagapixel’s SEO & Web Design Services

In this case, it may actually be a case of us being a victim of our own success, because I don’t think that video carousel was there before, and it is now. But frankly, we’re in it, so we’re getting this traffic. It’s only coming to our YouTube channel instead of our blog.

I hope this video was helpful. If it was, please consider giving it a like. If you have any questions or comments, leave them below, and I will be checking them.

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