Website Traffic Declining? Here’s How to Fix That

Lysa Miller

It’s normal to have ebbs and flows when it comes to website traffic. Some analysts just assume those random dips and surges are results of typical human behavior. However, if a site once had high numbers and is now experiencing consistently low traffic…

…well, that’s cause for concern. 

If your website is experiencing a decrease in traffic (large or small) it’s time to analyze the problem and solve it. 

To prime you on what could be going wrong with your website traffic, let’s take a look at some common sources for a dip in traffic. We’ll also share some pointers on how you can start to fix them, so let’s not waste any time, here we go:

Diagnosing Website Traffic Decline

Before you start to panic over your website traffic, take solace in the fact that almost any problem you find is fixable. Some may be more complex than others, but fixing a decline in website traffic is a totally solvable issue.

The very first thing we need to do is diagnose the issue. This is where you’ll start gathering information about the issue as you work through a short checklist of steps to pinpoint the source of the traffic decline.

Is Your Website’s Analytics Working Correctly?

One scenario for your website to see a sudden collapse of incoming traffic is that the measuring tools you use to monitor it, like Google Analytics, are not working as they should. Even a small mistake could mean you are missing some of the invaluable data these tools report. 

person looking for keywords on google adwords

Now, that could be potentially good news because it likely means your website is just fine—the problem is with the measuring. An example of this could be that you’ve made other changes to your website, which, in turn, caused your analytics tracking code to cease tracking. It could also be something as simple as an out of date plugin on your site that just needs updated.

So, the first thing you’ll want to do is to check on your analytics tools. Google Analytics is the most common tool used, so start there. Check to see if your Analytics dashboard or Google Search Console have any error notifications that could be alerting you of a tracking issue.

Does the source code match the tracking code?

Oftentimes, the problem is quite simple: It’s not the right data. Google Analytics matches its tracking code to the source code on the website. These two numbers should match exactly; otherwise, it’s the wrong site and the data is inaccurate.

If everything there is working correctly, it’s time to proceed with some other possible causes. To do that, you’ll need to get some more information first.

Over What Kind Of Timeline Did The Website Traffic Drop?

While you’re in Google Analytics, or whatever tracking tool you use, look at the curve of your traffic over a span of three to six months for a more full picture. At the very minimum, go back a month, but a longer period of time will make it easier to see changes.

RELATED READING: Why Metrics and Analytics Are the Keys to Success

laptop on desk displaying analytic data and graphs

Once you have that, work through the following checklist items and jot your answer down for future reference.

Does the curve indicate website traffic declined suddenly or over time?

You can develop an appropriate sense of urgency by looking at this data. If the problem occured suddenly, with a steep curve, that indicates a dramatic situation. In cases like that, you’ll want to act quickly. 

Steep drops in traffic to your website can be caused by a number of things, but are commonly due to a penalty from Google, a competitor who has started stealing traffic from your site, or possibly an attack from a hacker.

If traffic to your website declined more gradually over time, the issue you’re having is most likely going to be persistent. Rather than just hoping it goes away on its own. If you are serious about fixing your website’s traffic issues, it’s time to intervene. 

Rule out a seasonal or otherwise temporary decline in website traffic.

It’s not uncommon for websites to experience a seasonal decline in traffic throughout the year. Although, that’s not to say they can’t be reduced by careful planning and strategy. That’s where the compare tool in Google Analytics comes in handy. 

Easily Organize Your Calendar With The Events Calendar Plugin
Sometimes seasonal changes can cause a decrease in traffic.

Using the compare tool in the calendar of your Google Analytics dashboard, look back on your site’s traffic history over the span of multiple years and make notes of any trends that could indicate a seasonal traffic dip.

While a seasonal decline in website traffic isn’t usually a severe problem, as it tends to fix itself after the “season” is over. That being said, you should still address it. That way you can adapt your strategy moving forward to include an appropriate course of action to prevent them from happening in the first place. 

Remember, a thorough analysis of your website traffic looks at all of the factors. This includes historical changes to your site’s traffic, backlinks, your competitors websites, along with the most recent statistics gathered from your analytics tracking tool.

Which metrics related to your site traffic are suffering the most?

Next, you’ll want to determine exactly which metrics are down. The most obvious metric is gong to be organic traffic coming into your website. In fact, a drop in organic traffic is probably what caught your attention in the first place. 

But, don’t stop your analysis there! Though certainly helpful in spotting overall problems, you need to dive a little deeper to be able to diagnose the issue. 

Make sure you also look into the following:

  • Check on traffic sources. Can you spot any typical traffic sources that stopped sending traffic to your site? Maybe a social media post with a broken link that’s stopping visitors from coming to your site?
  • Determine who your visitors are. Compare your website’s new visitors to it’s returning visitors. If the traffic decline is coming from a drop-off in new visitors, it could mean something is off with your site’s SEO (leaving your site vulnerable to have traffic stolen from it by your competitors).

    If you see a steep drop-off in the amount of returning visitors, it could mean a link you sent out in a marketing email isn’t working, or the conversion and retention aspect of your marketing strategy needs improvements.
  • Know how devices affect user behavior. Look at how many visitors come to your site on a desktop computer versus a mobile device. Also look to see if either of those have an unusual drop in traffic. It’s possible that your website appears broken on one of those devices, or you took down content that targeted one of those two groups. 

11 Potential Reasons A Website Traffic Decline and How To Spot Them

analytics chart showing website traffic

Now that you’ve had a good look at your websites analytics and have found some potential reasons or areas which your metrics could improve, let’s take a more in-depth look at potential sources of pain when it comes to website traffic.

1. Consider Recently Completed Ad Campaigns

Were you running a pay-per-click campaign or other big marketing push that ended around the same time your web traffic began falling off? It’s normal to see some traffic fall off upon the completion of an advertising campaign. 

But if you’re seeing a big decrease in traffic and have associated it with the end of one of these campaigns, that could be a promising sign that you should restart the campaign or one similar to it.

Just remember to keep checking in periodically after you’ve restarted a successful campaign to ensure your traffic is going back up.

2. Check For Broken Or Lost Backlinks

person browsing website
A site that once linked to yours, but no longer does could result in a traffic loss.

It’s possible that a particular site was sending a lot of traffic to your website then removed the link intentionally, by mistake, or because the site is no longer running. 

There can be a number of reasons… 

However, if you see a backlink which used to send plenty of traffic to your site has stopped performing for you, do a little research as to why. 

The fix for this could be as simple as a quick email to whoever published the backlink to your site and asking them to add it back or correct the error if the link became invalid for some reason.

3. High-performing Content On Your Site Was Removed

If you had done some spring cleaning recently and deleted some pages or content you didn’t think were doing much for visitors to your site, you may want to consider bringing it back. 

Remember to always perform a thorough analysis of your content before you delete anything. Make sure it’s not attracting more traffic to your website than you believe it to be. That way nothing that drives traffic to your site is removed based on an assumption.

4. Note Changes To Your Content Promotion Efforts

A change in the way you promote your website and blog posts can have a negative impact on incoming traffic to your website. For example, say you stop posting social media posts or stop adding links to your content in your weekly newsletter. That will certainly result in a loss of incoming traffic.

One way to counteract that is by picking up your content promotion efforts. If you notice an exceptionally well performing piece of content, you can use that as inspiration to create similar new content to promote. 

Which leads us too…

5. Your Content Isn’t Being Updated Enough

screengrab of wordpress dashboard
Changes to content are another possible cause of website traffic declines.

Content on your site, including your blog and other pages need to be updated regularly. Blogs should have a regular posting schedule and other content on your site will benefit from fresh content.

At the very minimum, aim to publish one blog post a month. However, if the competition is especially tough for your targeted keywords, you may have to increase that to three or four posts a week.

This is a great opportunity to give your visitors added value from your website. But it will also be appreciated by the Google search algorithm thanks to an increased number of pages it has to index. 

In fact, we have talked about how Google views websites that are old and not updated as stale. If this is happening to your site, you may not be appearing as high on Google search results.

If you don’t currently have a maintenance plan for your website, we recommend starting one right away. Many web developers, including 3 Media Web, offer this as an ongoing service to clients.

Related Reading: Why You Need a Web Support Maintenance Plan for WordPress

6. Your Site Has Issues With It’s Design

If you have recently made changes to the design or functionality of your website, it’s possible that the changes degraded the user experience and user interface (UX/UI). 

“Usability is the foundation of a successful user interface and is the easiest process for creating a positive user experience. Positive user experience is a critical part of the overall customer experience and helps define the relationship your customers have with your brand.”

READ MORE: Crafting The Perfect UI Design | 3 Media Web

If visitors to your site are unhappy or confused at how to navigate it, they will likely leave in a hurry and stop coming back. Applying the web design standards established by organizations such as The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is extremely helpful during the design phase.

And remember, always test any changes before you make them permanent. Roll changes out in small clusters to test each individually, rather than making all the changes in one go.

7. Conversion and Bounce Rates Are Too Low

Another possibility could be that your bounce rate is too low. A bounce rate means the percentage of people who visit your site then leave after looking at only one page. Ideally, you want visitors to visit multiple pages of your site and eventually turn into a conversion. 

If they are leaving quickly and not returning, it’s a good sign there is something about your site that is not fulfilling the reason they went there in the first place. 

Since the bounce rate is the 4th most important ranking factor according to SEMRush, this is clearly something that should be addressed quickly or you risk seeing an even larger decrease in traffic to your site.

Commonly these are all related to issues with the UX/UI like we were touching on in the section just above. However, the exact issue will take a little more research to pinpoint. It could be anything from a slow page loading time, to a hard to navigate site, or a lack of content.

If you notice your bounce rate is exceptionally high, we suggest contacting a web designer and developer to give your site a proper assessment and implement solutions to the issues they find.

8. Your Site Is Victim To A Google Update

A change to the Google algorithm can wreak havoc on a website’s ranking and, as a result, cause a decline in traffic to the site. 

Google issues core updates four times a year.  So, a good place to begin is by checking for the last round or two of updates to Google’s algorithm and see if the timing coincides with your website’s traffic issues.

If so, your next step should be to see what changes were made and determine which one could be affecting your website. From there, you’ll have to re-evaluate your strategy and make changes to get your website traffic back on course.

9. Your Site Was Penalized By Google

website traffic charts
Google penalties do happen, but they can be reversed.

If you see a very steep curve of traffic fall-off to your site, it could be due to a Google penalty. 

A manual penalty is an official penalty from Google. Simply put, it means a Google staffer has reviewed your site and deemed to be breaking their Webmaster Quality Guidelines in some way or another. Now, Google penalties will vary in severity depending on the individual site and the issue Google took with it. 

Nonetheless, a manual penalty should be taken very seriously and remedied as quickly as possible.

We touched on this earlier, but to check for a manual penalty from Google, you will need to log into your Google Search Console and check for a notification. Any time Google dishes out a manual penalty, they will notify the website via the Search Console, thankfully.

Another plus to a Google penalty is they also offer resources on that educate and instruct site owners on how to bring their site back up to snuff based on whatever kind of penalty they gave out.

Once you’ve fixed the issue they penalized your website for, you will need to request a review to have the penalty removed. If all goes well, they will remove the penalty and traffic to your website will start increasing again.

10. Restrictions From Your Web Host

In some instances, the company you get your web hosting package from will limit site speed, quantity of visitors, and a host of other important features. For small, personal websites, this can be a nice way to save some money since small, non-business sites, may not strive to get tons of traffic.

However, if your company website is on one of these hosting plans and you experience an unexplained decrease in traffic to your website, it would be wise to peek at your error logs. It’s possible, a change to your hosting package correlates with your traffic dip.

11. The Competition Is Taking Your Website Traffic

man writing website traffic strategy
It’s also possible you need to re-evaluate your SEO strategy to make sure competitors aren’t taking all the traffic.

Ranking high in Google results is a difficult enough task and once you’ve made it to the front page of the SERPS, your work is still not done. Content strategies need to account for the work that needs to be done to keep your website ranking high.

Otherwise, you run the risk of your competition coming in and taking over all the keywords you’ve worked so hard on. This kind of thing is more common than you think and, truth be told, your SEO strategy should also include efforts to try to take traffic away from your competitors. 

If your website is losing traffic because you are no longer ranking above your competitors, it’s time to evaluate your strategy. Consult with a digital growth expert and get your SEO game back on track. 

Call In The Pros To Fix Your Website Traffic Issues

Unfortunately, there’s no hard-and-fast reason for a site’s traffic to decline. It’s often just a matter of troubleshooting the problem one step at a time. Many site owners like to save themselves the trouble by trying all of the above strategies at once. 

The traffic usually comes back – this time, for good.

But if you require some expert help, the team at 3 Media Web is here for you. We offer website maintenance and support plans that will help drive traffic to your site and keep it growing.

Get Your Website Traffic Moving in the Right Direction

Contact us online or by phone (508) 841-3149.

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