10 questions to diagnose and resolve declining organic traffic

declining organic traffic

Have you seen a big drop in your website’s organic traffic? Don’t worry. This guide will offer you 10 important questions to find and solve the problem. SEO experts and professionals have crafted these questions. By responding to them, you can find why your organic traffic is dropping and then fix it.

Key Takeaways:

  • Monitor and analyze data discrepancies between Google Search Console and your internal analytics platform to rule out tracking bugs.
  • Analyze the mix of branded and non-branded traffic to identify potential issues with your brand or marketing efforts.
  • Examine key metrics such as clicks, impressions, CTR, and average position to understand the decline in organic traffic.
  • Evaluate the value of conversions attributed to organic clicks to prioritize optimization efforts.
  • Analyze trendlines to identify potential causes such as recent development work, algorithm updates, or changes in market landscape.

Is it a Tracking Bug?

Before you start fixing any drop in organic traffic, it’s key to look into tracking bugs. These bugs can make data incorrect. By checking the tracking setup, you can figure out the real cause. This way, you make smart choices based on right information.

Signs of a Tracking Bug

How do you know if a tracking bug is messing with your site’s traffic? Look out for these clues:

  • Data doesn’t match between Google Search Console and your own tools
  • You suddenly lose visitors from all channels

Seeing these signs means you need to dig deeper. Find out if a tracking bug is to blame for less organic traffic.

Verifying Tracking Setup

To make sure your tracking is right, do these steps:

  1. Check your Google Analytics code is on the right pages
  2. Make sure Google Analytics is collecting data properly
  3. If you use Google Tag Manager, check it to see if it’s doing its job

Doing these checks helps keep your tracking in line. It lowers the chances of tracking bugs messing with your numbers.

Investigating Tracking Discrepancies

Finding differences between Google Search Console and your tools is serious. You must look into why this is happening. Think about these points:

  • Make sure both platforms are looking at the same time frame
  • Check for any data sampling that might make numbers wrong
  • Consider if there are delays in how data is processed
  • Check if your filters in Google Analytics are causing this

Looking closely at these issues helps find the real cause of the differences. This way, you can understand how it affects your organic traffic data.

Analyzing Branded vs. Non-Branded Traffic

Looking into branded and non-branded traffic mix is key when organic traffic drops. It helps find out if the fall is due to branded searches or from non-brand traffic. This info guides us to take the right steps.

A drop in branded searches might mean bigger problems with your brand or ads. Bad press, stopping ad campaigns, or changes in how you win customers could all be reasons. Checking your brand’s visibility closely can show where to focus. This can help boost your brand’s image and bring in more visitors naturally.

If the issue is mostly non-branded traffic, we should look into the specific web pages and keywords seeing less attention. This can show if there is bad news about your brand that’s affecting how visible it is. Then, that visibility drop might be slowing down natural visitor growth.

Branded Searches

Tracking how often people search for your brand can show you where you stand in their minds. Less searching might mean your brand needs a boost. Using Google Search Console and other tools helps understand how people find and engage with your brand.

Non-Brand Traffic

It’s also key to keep an eye on non-brand traffic trends. If certain pages or keywords lose visibility, there could be an issue. This might be due to bad news, market changes, or different ways of getting customers. Focusing on these pages and keywords could help turn things around.

It’s crucial to always watch your site’s branded and non-branded traffic mix. By doing this, you can spot and solve issues leading to fewer natural visitors. Next, we’ll dive into Section 4 to look at how key numbers can help with this.

Understanding Key Metrics

Looking at key metrics helps us see why organic traffic is going down. We check several things like clicks, impressions, and more. This lets us spot trends and find out the reasons for the decline.


Clicks show how many times people have clicked on your site in search results. It tells us how well your site shows up and if users find your content useful.


Impressions are how many times your site shows up in results, even if not clicked. Monitoring impressions shows how often users see your site. This can help improve the chances of them clicking on it.

CTR (Click-Through Rate)

CTR is how many people click your site compared to its total views. A high CTR means your site is interesting and meets users’ needs. Working on your CTR can boost your traffic.

Average Position

The average position is your site’s typical rank in search results. Better ranks means more users see your site. Checking on your position can help you make changes to get more traffic.


Seasonality looks at how trends change throughout the year. Knowing about seasonal traffic shifts helps in preparing your site and marketing for different times.


Each page’s URL can give clues on dropping organic traffic. By looking at each URL, you can find underperforming pages. You can then fix them to do better.


Search queries impact the traffic your site gets. Studying the words people use to find your site helps. It guides you to create content focusing on popular queries.

SERP Feature, Shopping, and Media

SERPs have special features like knowledge panels and shopping. Knowing how these affect your traffic is important. It helps make your site more visible and engaging to users.


Where your audience is matters for your site’s visibility. Looking at traffic from different places can help. It allows you to adjust your approach for better local results.


More people are using mobile to browse the internet. Check your mobile stats to improve user experience and attract more visitors.

Understanding Key Metrics

Evaluating Conversion Value

Seeing a drop in traffic makes us worry. But, we need to look closely at why conversions are dropping. This helps us focus on the real causes of our issues. Understanding the value of organic clicks that are dropping helps us know if they’re crucial for reaching our goals.

Remember, not every organic click leads directly to a sale. For example, some informative blog posts help customers learn before buying. They might not directly lead to sales but are important in the customer’s journey. They offer value by educating and engaging potential buyers. This influence is key in their decision-making.

To evaluate properly, we use two models. First-touch looks at the first interaction. Meanwhile, the last-touch model considers the interaction just before someone buys.

Using both models gives us a clear picture. We see how important these pages are at different points in the buying process. Knowing this helps us focus our efforts on pages with the greatest impact.

First-Touch Attribution Model

This model highlights the very first contact with our website. It only credits that initial contact with the sale. It helps us see where our marketing catches the eye first.

Last-Touch Attribution Model

The last-touch model, however, looks at the final step before a purchase. It shows us what tips the balance towards buying. This insight is invaluable in understanding what convinces people to buy.

By using both models, we get a full view of these important pages. This data helps us make smart choices in improving our strategy. Let’s analyze our conversions closely and focus on the pages that can make the biggest difference.

Examining Trendlines

Trendlines help us see why organic traffic might decline. They show the timeline and aspects of the fall. This helps us find out what’s hurting your website’s search results.

A big, sudden drop in visitors might point to recent changes on your site or a major Google update. It’s key to look into any updates or changes and see what they did to your traffic.

But, if the drop happens slowly, it could be due to not enough good information on certain pages. Or, maybe the market has changed or you’re getting fewer referrals. These issues can make people less interested in visiting.

Looking at trendlines lets us spot traffic patterns and trends. We can pin down what causes dips and dives in traffic. Then, we can come up with ways to make the traffic go up again.

Trend AnalysisPossible Causes
Steep and sudden drop
  • Recent development work
  • Significant Google algorithm update
Gradual decline
  • Thin content
  • Changes in the market landscape
  • Decrease in referrals

Studying trendlines helps us understand why organic traffic is dropping. With this insight, we can craft strategies that pull in more visitors. This means better search results and more traffic for your site.

Content Audit

When your site’s organic traffic drops, your content might be the cause. Search engines change their rules often, leaving old content behind. A content audit lets you find and update pages that are falling behind.

By keeping your content current with search engine standards, you’ll boost your site’s visibility. This will bring more people to your website who are looking for what you offer.

Identifying Content Changes

To begin your content audit, first figure out what changes might be hurting your traffic. Look at your website’s past data for any drops in rankings or clicks. Take note of recent content updates, like:

  • Changing headlines, meta tags, and descriptions
  • Altering your web pages’ look or layout
  • Upgrading the quality and usefulness of your content

After spotting these changes, check if your content meets today’s search engine standards. See if your pages are using the right keywords. Does your content truly help and engage visitors? These are key questions to ask.

Optimizing Your Content

Once you know what’s wrong, it’s time to fix it. Develop a plan to make your content better and attract more visitors. Here’s what to do:

  • Create fresh, relevant, and valuable content: Keep updating your website with new, interesting material for your audience.
  • Optimize keywords and metadata: Use the right keywords in your titles, headings, and descriptions naturally.
  • Improve user experience: Make your content easier to read and use. Use headings, bullet points, and images to break up text.
  • Optimize for mobile: Make sure your content looks good and works well on mobile phones too.

content audit

Regular content audits help you keep up with search engine demands. By always improving and updating your content, your site will do better in search results. You’ll also bring in more visitors who are interested in what you offer.

Key Steps for a Successful Content AuditPurpose
1. Identify pages with declining rankingsFigure out which pages are losing ground in search results.
2. Evaluate content relevance and qualityCheck if your content still meets what people look for and search engine rules.
3. Update outdated informationFix any old or wrong info on your website.
4. Optimize for target keywordsMake sure your pages use the best keywords to be more visible in searches.
5. Enhance user experienceMake your content easier and nicer for visitors to use.
6. Incorporate multimedia elementsAdd images, videos, and more to make your site more engaging.
7. Monitor performanceKeep an eye on how your updates are doing to see if they’re working.

Technical Audit

Technical issues can lower your website’s organic traffic. It’s important to do a thorough technical audit to find and fix any problems. This includes checking site directories, indexing, crawling, robots.txt, meta robots, and canonicalization. Fixing these can make your website more accessible and favored by search engines. This leads to better organic search rankings.

  1. Site Directory: Review your site’s structure to help search engines find and index your pages easier.
  2. Indexing: Make sure important pages are indexed by search engines and not blocked.
  3. Crawling: Look for crawl errors that might stop search engine bots from fully exploring your site.
  4. Robots.txt: Make sure your robots.txt file lets search engines into the right parts of your site, but not the wrong ones.
  5. Meta Robots: Adjust your meta robots tags to tell search engines how to treat your site’s content.
  6. Canonicalization: Use canonical tags to avoid issues with duplicate content and focus link power on the best versions of your pages.

Doing a detailed technical audit can fix any issues affecting your site’s search performance. Being proactive will boost how easy and visible your website is, which can increase your organic traffic. In the end, you’ll have a stronger online presence.

External SEO Factors

External conditions are key to your website’s success in getting visitors through search engines. Understanding these factors helps you improve your site’s search performance. We will look at backlinks, referral traffic, and more. These can affect your website’s visits and give you ideas for improvement.

1. Backlinks: Backlinks are links from other websites to yours. They’re crucial for search engine rankings. It’s important to keep an eye on who links to you. Losing links from top sites can hurt your traffic.

2. Referral Traffic: Referral traffic comes from links on other websites. It’s important to see where visitors are coming from. A drop in referral traffic might mean you need to work on being more visible.

3. Authority Sites: Getting links from trusted sites helps you rank better. Building partnerships with such sites can get you more quality links and more visibility. It’s good to keep track of how these links are doing for you.

4. Algorithm Updates: Search algorithms are always changing. Knowing about these changes is important for understanding your website’s traffic. Tools like Google’s update list can help you stay on top of things.

5. SEO Community: Connecting with others in SEO can give you new tips and knowledge. The community can help you solve any issues you face in optimizing your site for search engines.

6. Documentation: Keeping up with Google’s guidelines is a must. This way, you ensure your site follows the best practices for SEO. This helps your site grow in organic searches.

7. Algorithm Tracking Tools: Algorithm tracking tools can show you how updates affect your site. They help you see what changes are needed in your strategy. This way, you can respond to updates effectively.

SEO External FactorsImpact on Organic Traffic
BacklinksBacklinks from authoritative websites can enhance organic search visibility and drive targeted traffic.
Referral TrafficAn increase in referral traffic can contribute to an overall increase in organic traffic as visitors discover your website through external sources.
Authority SitesBuilding relationships with authority sites can lead to quality backlinks and improved organic search positioning.
Algorithm UpdatesStaying informed about algorithm updates allows you to adapt your SEO strategies and mitigate the impact of any changes on your organic traffic.
SEO CommunityEngaging with the SEO community provides insights, strategies, and support to help optimize your organic traffic.
DocumentationFollowing search engine documentation ensures that your website adheres to best practices and maintains its visibility in organic search results.
Algorithm Tracking ToolsUtilizing algorithm tracking tools helps you identify patterns and correlations between algorithm updates and organic traffic changes.

Evolving SERP Features

The way search engine results pages (SERPs) look keeps changing. This is because of new features that affect how easy it is to see normal search results. When trying to figure out why your search traffic is dropping, it’s important to look at the knowledge panel and featured snippets.

Knowledge Panel

The knowledge panel shows up on the right side of SERPs. It gives a lot of details about a particular thing, like a person or a place. This includes key facts, pictures, and other important info. It grabs people’s attention quickly.

When you look up someone famous, like “Albert Einstein,” important facts show up in the knowledge panel. Things like their job, when they were born, and what they’re famous for are all there. This can make it less likely for people to click on other links because they get what they need right away.

It’s key to understand how the knowledge panel affects your site’s visits. If your site focuses on the same info shown in the panel, you might see fewer visitors. This is because the panel answers their questions right on the search page.

Featured Snippets

Featured snippets offer quick, brief answers at the top of search results. They’re grabbed straight from a webpage and aim to quickly answer user questions. This is done in a simple Q&A style, saving users time.

Let’s say you’re looking up “how to tie a tie.” You might see a snippet with the simple steps right there. You don’t have to go to a website for the same info because it’s shown in the snippet.

These snippets can lower the number of clicks on certain websites. For sites that share detailed content, this could mean less traffic since the snippet answers the user’s question straight away.

Looking closely at the search results can give you hints on what’s affecting your site’s visibility. By understanding how these new features work, you can see why your organic traffic might be going down.

Penalty Assessment

Penalties, though rare, can hurt your website’s organic traffic. We must separate those we get on purpose from search engines and the effects of their updates. It is key to know what penalties your site could face and to watch for algorithm changes. This helps us see if they make our traffic drop.

Getting penalized is when Google and others think your site breaks their rules or tricks the system. This might mean you fall lower in searches or vanish from results. It’s crucial to check if your site got any penalties and fix the issues to do better.

Yet, algorithm updates are just tweaks in the search rules. These aim to make search results more helpful. They can also shake up traffic and rankings. Keeping up with these updates and their effects on your website is vital.

Tracking how algorithm updates affect your site’s traffic can show if they’re the reason for drops. Being in the loop on updates lets you tweak your SEO plans smartly.


When looking at penalties and updates, remember this:

  1. Always check Google Search Console for messages from search engines. They might help explain any penalties and tips to fix them.
  2. Compare your site’s stats before and after a penalty or update. Look for big drops in traffic or rankings. This can show if you’ve been hit.
  3. Take a good look at your backlinks. Bad links from spammy sites can get you in trouble. Find and remove these links to avoid penalties.
  4. Review your content’s quality. Badly written, copied, or stuffed with keywords material can harm you. Make sure your content is up to par with search engine’s standards to stay safe.
  5. Stay up to date with algorithm updates from trusted sources. Being well informed helps you anticipate and adapt to changes, keeping your strategies effective.

By carefully inspecting penalties and update effects, you can pinpoint if they’re causing your traffic problems. This knowledge helps take action to improve your organic search results.

Taking Action

Now, we move from just knowing our problems to fixing them. We will move to increase our organic traffic again. The key is to use strategies tailored to what the diagnostic questions showed us.

Start with updating your content. Make sure it meets today’s search engine rules. Also, make it helpful and interesting for your viewers. Use keywords well and fix your titles and meta tags to get seen more.

Then, deal with any technical problems by fixing them. Do a full technical check to find and solve issues with your site’s setup. This will make your site easier for search engines to read and like.

Also, try to get good backlinks from trusted sites. This will boost your site’s reputation. Reach out to known people in your field. Try to build a link with them so they might link to your site.

Finally, watch how your changes are doing. Keep an eye on your organic traffic, where your site shows up in searches, and your sales. This will tell you if your plan is working. Make changes as you see fit to keep getting better results.



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