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High rankings in Google organic, but big losses in traffic

     
5:24 pm on Sep 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Our site has lost traffic since the beginning of the year. We can pinpoint that the vast majority of traffic lost is from Google organic results.

What we can't understand is that many search terms that we are #1, have been number one and still are number one, have lost significant volume. This includes the name of our site which we have been and continue to be #1. These key terms show a decrease of 60% in volume (as shown in analytics).

Does anyone have any explanation as to why the traffic is down so much?

Thanks
9:11 pm on Sept 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I have always pondered that ranking does not equal to traffic. I think that the site can be shown as number 1 to a few visitors, but you would rather have higher visibility and be shown as a average of rank 3~5 to a tons of visitors.

What does webmaster tool tell you in terms of search query impressions? has it remained the same or fallen off the cliff?

I have noted for my own cases...my ranking can drop while the query impressions jump which results in higher traffic with lower serp ranks. Which is reverse of what may have happened here.

That's the best "why" that I can think of.
11:37 pm on Sept 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Any change in the layout of the serps page occurring around then that might have affected you? That has been known to have caused traffic drops in the past. Have the image carousel results come to your niche? That's a possibility.

It sounds like you might be looking at only very obvious keywords, though. Have you been tracking long tail queries? Any drop-off in traffic from those?
11:54 pm on Sept 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

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"Have the image carousel results come to your niche? That's a possibility. "

Good catch, that's why this site is so useful these days. Robert anything he and others can do to get his rankings back? is there a Matt Cutts video about it?
11:56 pm on Sept 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@ffctas
To expand on Robert's suggesion above, have you checked Search Queries section in WMT? This should show the impressions, CTR and your average ranking position for your queries. Perhaps this could give you some clues?
1:22 am on Sept 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

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if you where ranking no 1 for "commercial keywords" , on many screen resolutions that now equates to the old no 10 position. For less commercial terms , the displacement is less pronounced.
5:40 am on Sept 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

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"if you where ranking no 1 for "commercial keywords" , on many screen resolutions that now equates to the old no 10 position."

Why is that scooterdude, our website have thin and shallow content like Matt Cutt say? Or another reason
7:30 am on Sept 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

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He is referring to the amount of adverts and other 'filler' at the top of search results these days.
9:30 am on Sept 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I see the very same. And on 17/09 4 pm CET the must have been another quality update that took us again 50% from traffic away after a week of gaining traffic.

I think that most users click on shopping ads. By showing the picture within the result the user can easily proof if the widget is the right one. That is a
competitive advantage against the organic serps!
We had a lot of traffic by Picture search but now poeple donīt need to look at pictures search they go to Shopping ads.
In my niche the CPC is growing from day to day. Some advertisers even pay 30 Cent per click for a 8 Cent item!
10:57 am on Sept 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I have notice the traffic drop over the last year or 2 for most positions. One thing you may need to consider is that your site may not always be showing as number 1 for everyone.

The first thing you have to do when checking keyword positions is turn of "customizations based on search activity" on Goggle in the Web History properties. This is a cookie that tells Google to change the serps on you based on what you have clicked on in the past. So if you have clicked on your a site (your own for example) in the next search you do if that site comes up it will appear a lot higher in the search results.

Another thing you have to worry about is localization. Google now displays local results based on the users IP. So what is your number 1 may not be number 1 across the country.
11:13 am on Sept 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

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The placement of organic positions in the search results has changed like many have noted. This is most likely what has caused the loss in traffic. You may want to read the thread about surviving Google's shrinking serps [webmasterworld.com].
6:16 pm on Sept 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Yes, I was talking about organic positions in the serps layout in my answer above.

Google autocomplete suggestions that suggest alternative search terms before your particular phrase comes up might also hurt. As to what can be done, you need to become an authority in your niche, much easier said than done, to rank for a broader range of terms.

It is also not smart to depend on Google for all of your business. That's been discussed many times in this forum... and it's very sad to read the cases of business after business that haven't gotten that message.

Note, btw, that many of the factors that affect your rankings and click-through rate in organic will also affect your click-through rate (and thus your position) in AdWords. These same factors (call them branding or buzz or authority or trust), will also affect your success in the business world in general.
7:44 pm on Sept 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Google autocomplete suggestions that suggest alternative search terms before your particular phrase comes up might also hurt.


It's a simple matter of being aware of those autocomplete suggestions (everyone should be) and incorporating them into the text of our pages as long as they can naturally blend in, and of course in the proper measure.

That way they can't hurt but only help.

The loss of "referral keywords" from google directed traffic to a website is only a minor nuisance as long as we still have the autocomplete suggestions because they are very similar. The same can be said about the keyword tool -- just use the autocomplete suggestions for research.