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Drop in traffic - No manual action & no known algorithm update

 4:20 pm on May 30, 2014 (gmt 0)

Looking more in-depth at traffic logs from a while ago it seems there was a big drop in Google search traffic but there was no manual action or known algorithm update. Very little changed on the site - what can the drop in traffic be attributed to?



 11:06 pm on May 31, 2014 (gmt 0)

Have you managed to isolate page(s) that had the drop in traffic? It could be a handful of pages for a very searched for query or a wide range of pages where the loss was across many keywords.

When I see something like this, I am usually able to isolate a query (or very related queries) certain page stopped ranking for. If query is popular, drop from #1 to the middle or bottom of the first page can have a big effect.

I think you need to dig into your data a bit more and let us know what you find out.


 12:02 am on Jun 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

What date did the drop start on?
How old is the site?


 1:03 pm on Jun 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

@aakk9999 Difficult to point out because of null referer in https.

@mariehaynes Drop happened end of September.


 1:38 pm on Jun 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

@aakk9999 Difficult to point out because of null referer in https

This is why I said "pages" (URLs) not "keywords".

Normally a page would attract a set of similar keywords because of page focus and this could give you some direction.

Also, if you look WMT, there is some information on the last 3 months of search queries, however I do not know if this would help you as I do not know how far back your "while ago" was.

And to echo MarieHaynes above, what date did the drop start on?


 8:04 pm on Jun 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

Started the sink on Sept 28th. Down to 50% in the space of a week


 12:41 pm on Jun 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

You're right. There was no known algo change on Sep 28. It'll be hard to say what the issue is but here are a few thoughts:

Hummingbird was released a little while previous to this. While there wasn't a big uproar amongst SEOs of sites seeing ranking drops, it's possible that it could affect a site depending on what type of queries you get. My guess is that this isn't it though.

Have your rankings plummeted? Or perhaps just dropped. A drop from a #1 to #2 or #3 can have catastrophic effects. It may just be that a competitor is doing better than you. I'd also look for malware or page speed issues.

Is the site new? It could also be that you had a honeymoon boost and now the site has dropped down to normal rankings.


 2:17 pm on Jun 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

aakk9999 has offered you a solid starting point. Check your analytics for top pages. Better yet, review the logs and find the pages that are experiencing the greatest drop. OR, go backwards through the legacy keyword data you still have and starting with your top keywords work your way down to see which keywords you've dropped. Here are typical scenarios

- Manual/algorithmic action
- Technical issue
- Change in search query patterns
- Good competition
- Previous traffic depended on very few keywords.


 8:51 pm on Jun 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

Thanks I'm going to have to get the fine toothcomb out!


 4:42 pm on Jun 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

It's a general drop across all pages. Would Google penalize a site and not inform you of the reasons?


 4:54 pm on Jun 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

Would Google penalize a site and not inform you of the reasons?

You might have triggered some filter such as over optimisation filter. Alternatively you may have suffered because something happened to sites that were linking to you (their links may be discounted or ignored, for example).

There is also a possibility that there is a less interest in the topic that you are covering or that there is a new/resurfaced competitor that took part of your traffic.

The best time to analyse would have been closer to your drop (e.g. within a month of your drop) as you would still have a query history in your WMT and although not perfect, it can give you directions by looking at impressions, CTR, average ranking and pages that rank for query. Unfortunately, this data goes only 3 months back.

migration pool

 12:40 pm on Jun 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

Because website Content is not Relevant Search engine guideline


 1:21 pm on Jun 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

Sometimes, and probably more often, a drop in traffic is not a penalty. You're just ranking where you're supposed to rank. Sometimes and probably more often, a site may be temporarily re-ranked because the algo is still be fine-tuned. That last one usually sorts out in three to four months. The latter is referred to as collateral damage but I think that's incorrect because usually there was never a penalty in play.

It's not always easy to tell the difference between a penalty and being re-ranked because Google doesn't always communicate penalties via the toolbar, but thankfully there's GWT. In the old days the toolbar PageRank meter used to turn gray, usually accompanied by an absence in the SERPs. That was called being graybarred. That was bad. The other indication was the white bar. That was a little better.

Now that you have determined there's been a rank drop across all pages, perhaps it's time to check for technical issues that may be the cause of a ranking problem. Here is a Dropped Site Checklist [webmasterworld.com] that has a list of some technical issues. Work through those first. One issue that is not covered in there is a poor implementation of https. I've come across a number of sites that can't be reached because of technical problems associated with a transition to https. Do a search for phrases on your site, look for duplicate content. That can be evidence of a server or software (CMS/Shopping Cart) misconfiguration. Retrace footsteps to any recent changes.

Then if none of those technical reasons are the cause then it's time to review past link building efforts, a review of the on-page content and look for irregularities.

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