What Causes Organic Website Traffic to Decrease?
An unexpected decline in organic traffic can be caused by many factors, including a change in rankings, a change in relevance for your content, or a Google update.
There is less traffic, and it’s not clear what caused it.
If you’re not sure what’s causing your problem or how to fix it, check against the most likely causes in this article.
Let’s dive in.
What Causes Organic Website Traffic to Decrease?
Organic Traffic Conversions are Crucial to Businesses
If you’re ever wondered how much of your organic visitors should really be converting into leads, then you are thinking along the lines of a professional marketer. The reason is that inbound marketing success is measured by inbound lead conversion rate.
Inbound marketing leads offer marketers the opportunity to have qualified conversations with their leads instead of traditional carpet bombing style advertising with no personalization.
Outbound marketing tactics have a 1.7% conversion rate, while inbound methods have a 14.6% conversion rate, according to Eric Siu for Search Engine Journal. That’s a whopping 9 times difference!
That is the reason why you’d want to get real traffic to your website. Such visitors are qualified and are the simplest to make a sale with.
Why would Organic Traffic Drop?
You might have accessed Google analytics and found that your organic rankings have dropped. If this is the case, you may be looking at issues such as duplicate content or internal linking issues.
Tools like Accurank or Rank Ranger can track your rankings over time.
If these tools don’t suggest any drop in your rankings, but you’re getting less traffic, it could be caused by a change in the Google search algorithm, or a change in user behavior and search intent.
Were there any changes to SERP?
It has been said that Google has conducted 3,200 updates in 2018 alone and experts believe the number of algorithm updates per year has even risen since then.
That said, the vast majority of the updates are just minor changes.
While some have brought important changes, others haven’t.
If your traffic is down, check to see if that isn’t one of these.
Google usually doesn’t comment on its smaller updates, but the top SEO experts monitor the search engine’s behavior and have developed tools that help them find large changes in rankings.
Check out the Google Update tool. It gives you an instant update of your web pages, making them mobile friendly, and helps you get started with responsive design.
Was there a change in search intent or unexpected events?
Did something happen to change the search intent or was it the result of an unforeseen event?
Even if you have the most interesting content about a specific topic, the topic itself may stop being interesting or relevant to most people at a point in time.
Case in point, as the entire world is now gripped by the coronavirus (Covid-19. pandemic, one of the most affected sectors is the travel industry. As a result, it’s become less important for consumers to find answers to questions such as ‘what is the best cruise line’, ‘how do I buy a plane ticket’ or ‘which airlines to fly with’.
Although most large travel sites were still ranking really well, many people weren’t interested in traveling, and they stopped searching for the relevant queries. If a relevant search intent changes, you should evaluate your content and try to adjust it to fit the current state of events.
Google Algorithm Changes
Google’s search algorithm is constantly changing. That means there are frequent updates to website rankings and strategies.
According to reports, the world’s largest online search tool changes its algorithms up to 600 times a year.
Changes like Hummingbird or Panda are not a rarity, so you want to be prepared for when they do happen. It’s important that you adapt your site to these changes.
A common problem that small business owners face is keeping up with Google’s ever-changing SEO guidelines.
You’ll need to find out what Google is penalizing in your site for, why Google has made those changes, and then figure out how to best address these issues.
Determine the nature of the algorithm change by reviewing online resources like Search Engine Roundtable.
Once you’ve done all of this, you’ll be able to prevent further penalties and future problems from cropping up on your site.
Why has My Website Dropped in Rankings?
If your rankings dropped
If your rank trackers suggest that your rankings are going down, this usually means your performance overall has decreased. You should try to identify what might have caused it.
There are many reasons why this might happen.
Did you make any changes on your website?
Did you make any changes on your site in your attempt to improve user experience? Changes to your site are one likely cause for both ranking and traffic drops.
This means it’s intentional, and there’s a good reason for why it happened. You can easily reverse the changes and revert to your site’s original state.
If your website is hacked, that’s a problem. Fortunately, you can get it fixed easily.
You can easily check your website in Google Search Console via “Index Coverage Errors”.
Monitor your website for changes. If you do this, you’ll discover if a robot is visiting your site, or you have any content that isn’t relevant for Google or other search engines.
What Should I do when Organic Traffic Decreases?
There are 2 high level questions you need to ask when talking to a SEO agency or professional.
- How do I get organic website traffic growth again?
- Are there any technical issues on your website?
Technical issues like coding structure, speed, hosting server etc are amongst other things that can affect how Google crawls and indexes your website.
Unless we allocate resources to check on these technical issues daily, there is a high possibility that we’ll overlook them. It is important to act quickly if there are technical barriers. Make sure Google understands your content before it is too late.
Have you performed a website redesign and migration?
Sometimes websites are changed for business reasons without taking SEO into account.
If you recently went through a site redesign or migration, and subsequently saw a sudden drop in traffic, then you may have inadvertently broken or de-optimized something on your website in the process.
As an example, page speed – having a fast site is increasingly important these days.
Google confirms that page speed is a ranking factor on mobile. And if your mobile pages are slow, there’s a good chance that your overall site won’t rank well, either.
It’s no surprise that Page Speed is one of the most important ranking factors. A slower site means lower rankings and traffic.
If you’ve recently completed a redesign or migration and find that your site loads more slowly on mobile devices, especially on first load, you may want to reverse those changes.
A site that loads slowly on mobile devices, is bound to come back to haunt you. Even if it costs you more money to get those load times down, it’s well worth it to your site traffic and rankings.
Migrations and site redesigns are tricky beasts that can introduce a whole slew of problems.
When migrating to a new environment, there are a number of issues you may encounter.
The most common issues include:
- Traffic interruptions
- Site architecture changes
- Failed redirect implementations
- Metadata losses
- Service failures
These problems are avoidable with careful planning and quality control, but if you’re already seeing the traffic loss now, you’re too late to do anything about it!
Make sure your developers know what they’re doing, and that they can tell you when they’ve done it. Your team will work better and get better results when you have your developers involved in solving the problems you encounter in the development stage of your project.
Reasons for Low Website Traffic – Lost Links
If you have your own link building strategy in place, you might want to conduct an audit. Ensure that you are adhering to best practices that will boost the effectiveness of your link building strategies, for both external and internal links.
While link-building is important, you want to be cautious that you are not breaking the rules unintentionally.
If you get negative backlinks, Google will assume that your site is unreliable and will mark it as spam. Your website will not show up in search results and visitors will not visit your site.
It’s important to keep track of the health of your inbound links, and this is easy to do using a tool like Ahrefs or Majestic.
They will show you any potential declines in traffic from any particular page.
Is your content irrelevant or outdated?
Having high quality content is one of the best ways to increase your visibility in Google’s search results, and it can boost your conversion rates too. Clearly, Google rewards high-quality content and punishes low-quality content.
Prior Google updates like Panda have been released to specifically address the problem of low-quality (irrelevant or outdated) content on websites.
Panda intended to stop sites with bad content from appearing in the search results. It’s a great feature that helps internet users find useful content faster.
Furthermore, everyone knows the classic study that shows that more helpful and targeted content yields higher rankings in the SERPs.
A website can’t really do much for itself without great quality content. A good website will have compelling content. Make sure yours does too.
How to make your content great?
- Answer your prospects’ questions with in-depth educational content
- Use long-form content
- Use high-quality images in your content
- Focus on improving the user’s experience
- Have easily navigable user interfaces
Is your competition getting better?
So far, we’ve covered the main reasons for what causes organic website traffic to decrease. What other reasons could cause that fall?
Your web traffic could be dropping suddenly because there’s a new competitor who has entered the market or an old one who’s improved their strategy and search ranking.
Watch out for your competition, they may hold the key to your success! Set aside some time to analyze your competition’s website, and learn what they’re doing and try to do better to gain more visitors.
The faster you do so, the further ahead you’ll be.
Organic Traffic by Industry – Conversion Rates
Conversion rates – these are the numbers we really want to know. We are not simply talking about the percentage of site traffic generated by organic users but the organic traffic that converts into lead.
A low conversion rate is usually due to lack of visibility or quality. If the average user has to do lots of work to find your products and services on Google, there’s a good chance the users will just choose to find something else.
Don’t worry if you have low conversions for your initial campaigns; take time to refine your pages so that users can see your true value.
The average percentage of organic user traffic that should be converting into leads is 16%.
Take note that conversion rates vary by industry too. It ranges from 11% for retail to 20% for media.
- Media publishing: 20%
- Marketing agency: 20%
- Education, nonprofit: 18%
- Technology (hardware, software, IT): 15%
- Manufacturing, construction, consumer goods: 15%
- Professional services (legal, financial etc.): 14%
- Retail, ecommerce, wholesale distribution: 11%
Don’t be upset if your numbers do not match the industry average. Many factors can influence them.
We’ll explore a couple of them below:
1. Your location on the SERPS
It’s critical that your website appears in search result pages whenever potential customers enter relevant keywords into Google. By investing in high-quality backlinks and emphasizing user satisfaction, you’ll dramatically improve your SEO.
Research from Smart Insights found that on Google, 30% of organic clicks go to the #1 position, 17% of organic clicks go to the #2 position, and 12% of organic clicks go to the #3 position.
If you want to make sure that your listings get significant amounts of traffic, then you need to rank in the top three positions.
2. The number of website landing pages you have
You’ll get higher rankings in Google if you build lots of quality content and focus on providing the highest-quality content that matters most to your audience.
Blogging is one of the best ways to increase the number of pages your site shows and ranks for.
If you want to achieve the maximum potential for your ecommerce store, it’s essential to make sure your content is consistently updated on your blog. Each post you write should be its own unique web page, so creating a regular blogging schedule is a key strategy for maximizing your ecommerce business.
According to HubSpot, companies that blog more than once per week have 3x more traffic and 5x more leads than those that don’t have any blog posts. Companies that increase their frequency from one or two times per month to nine to 15 times per month get double the leads.
Having more landing pages on your website makes it more likely that your website visitors will convert into leads regardless of where they originate from.
In fact, companies see a 55% increase in leads when increasing landing pages from 10 to 15.
Organic vs Paid Traffic conversion rate
Organic visitors convert significantly higher than all other forms of traffic. If you have the right offer for your audience, and you create a trustworthy website, then organically-driven visitors will convert at much higher rates than paid traffic.
Organic search traffic is best for most online businesses. Organic visitors have 5.66x more potential than users who come via pay per click ads. It’s 8.5 times more likely to be clicked compared to paid search.
Meanwhile, paid search is a fast and expansive service.
This type of traffic can be helpful if you have a short-term landing page, but be aware of the costs that can add up over time.
A website that receives mostly paid traffic is not optimized to appear in search results but is likely better catered for direct traffic.
While it takes more time to generate organic user traffic, if you approach it properly and select the right keywords, it can also become very cost efficient.
You’ll be able to fine tune your products to the customer, and grow a sustainable business over the long-term.
If you want to improve the conversion of your website, you should first focus on getting more visitors. That’s because, in general, SEO will do better than paid search, if that is your primary source of traffic.
Organic conversion rates are the highest among all traffic channels. In fact, all of our clients see conversion rates that are at least 33% higher than any other source of traffic. It also has the highest ROI.
How to Forecast Organic Traffic?
Why would one want to predict their organic growth results?
SEO is first and foremost an investment as a marketing channel.
Department heads and company leaders often use forecasts to project expected results and calculate risks taken when making investments.
They could also use it to determine the paid to organic user traffic ratio when using an integrated marketing plan using multiple traffic sources.
It’s hard to predict the results of such an experiment because of the many variables that go into making a prediction.
SEO is not like a sport, where you have a single set of rules. Rather, it’s more like predicting the weather. There’s no real accurate way to know what will happen in the future.
Hence, it is important to impress upon the leadership the complexities of SEO in digital marketing before attempting to provide a range.
In addition to having a look at data over a year, you need to have enough information about the past in order to make predictions about the future.
Monthly sessions from different channels helps you to better understand what is driving traffic to your website and what needs to be done to improve your position in search result pages.
Seasonality is important to understand how different segments of your web traffic behave differently throughout the year.
This information is required for producing realistic and pertinent projections.
How to Increase Organic Traffic on Websites?
Fixing non-performing content, identifying keyword opportunities, developing backlinks, using long tail keywords, blogging to increase ranking, optimizing for higher CTR and getting found in search are the 6 best ways to boost your organic user.
Decreased Traffic, Don’t Panic, Go Through Your Checklist
I hope that we’ve managed to answer the popular question “what causes organic website traffic to decrease”. We understand the pain of losing traffic.
It is scary because reduced traffic means reduced visibility, which means fewer conversions and less revenue.
This is not something you should try to have to endure.
In this situation, you should stay calm and take control.
The first thing to do when experiencing problems with falling traffic numbers is to make sure you’ve gone through a list of all the possibilities to resolve the issue.
It’s probably an easy problem to identify and fix once you’ve carefully examined the problem, implemented a process of elimination, and narrowed down possible causes of the issue.
By now, hopefully you understand what causes organic traffic to decrease. If you require help with your traffic drop analysis, contact Blazing Conversions today.