Like many on this forum, I've seen a decline in Google traffic, especially compared to last year. I assumed that my rankings for some phrases had gone down, that an update had affected my site, and that my problems were generally attributable to something Google had done.
Yesterday I sat down and really took time to analyze my Analytics data, comparing 11/21/2008-12/21/2008 with the same period this year.
Last year's period was getting 40,000 to 50,000 page views daily, compared with 30,000+ this year. Time spent on site was two minutes average last year, compared with 1.75 minutes this year. Page views were 5+ last year, compared to 3.8 this year.
During that one month period last year, visitors found my site using 91,000 different search phrases. This year they found it using 83,000. Those numbers struck me as being fairly close. I know my site last year got a big boost in traffic for political reasons after the election, so the closeness of the number of search phrases was interesting.
I took the first 500 phrases for last year's period and this year's and exported them into an Excel file, and spent a lot of time comparing. I was surprised to see that there was very little difference. Phrases moved up or down a few places, but only a couple changed dramatically.
When I considered all of the information, there was only one conclusion I could reach: I'd lost the interest of a lot of visitors who'd been to my site before. I didn't add enough new content. People who've been to the site probably see it in the search results and say, "I've been to that site. It doesn't have what I want."
Creating new pages is boring, but it's what I have to do. More photos, more content to draw visitors in and keep them. It's Brett's rules. I just got lazy.