I don't know what happened, but it is destroying my business quickly. My company specializes in a specific service. People search for companies that repair their widgets, and it's a very niche market. Our traffic dropped quite a bit in 2011 or so, but it has remained constant since then.
My site is 11 years old, and has always ranked fairly well for a lot of different keywords in my industry. I will tell you, it is an older html site that isn't updated very often, and for the last 6 months or so I've been working to build out a completely upgraded version. With more up to date content, built on WordPress, fleshing out some of the thinner pages, optimizing it for super fast loading, creating much higher quality information, etc. etc. Our old site has just been performing well enough that I didn't want to just make a huge change and risk losing traffic.
Anyway, I wanted to run some Adwords a few weeks ago just to see if I could get some extra traffic. I also wanted to see what kind of work I'd need to do to build up a good Quality Score so that we can run some bigger campaigns later on.
The ad performance was just OK. Only a 0.5% CTR, and my QS was an 8 out of 10 for nearly all of my keywords. So I just paused the campaign having seen that I had a good starting point to build from later.
I stopped the ads on the 26th of June, and I immediately noticed a drop in organic traffic. My referrals from US based Google searches started to drop. For the rest of the day it seemed like I hardly got any of my normal traffic.
The following day was even worse. Where I typically get 80 to 100 uniques a day, I only got 55. And it continued to plummet. Here are my last few days just to show you what I'm talking about...
6/25: 104 (only 3 of these were Adwords clicks)
6/26: 68 (paused Adwords campaign mid day and Google traffic slowed dramatically)
6/28: 45 Only 14 visitors from a Google search in the US
6/29: 39 Only 1 visitor from a Google search in the US
6/30: 36 Only 2 visitors from a Google search in the US
7/01: 16 (as of 1pm) Not a single visitor from a Google search
I also noticed that in Webmaster Tools my impressions went from around 1,000 to 1,300 per day down to 800 the day after I stopped my ads, and then they went down to around 300 the next day.
I have some other sources where people find out about our services and call, even without visiting our website. So at least that keeps us from being completely dead.
I know that whether you run Adwords or not should not have any impact at all on impressions or search rankings. But this is really really weird. Did I finally get hit by an algo update and it's just pure luck that it kicked in when I stopped my ads?
I don't know what else to do right now. My traffic can't get any worse than it is, so I'm just going to expedite my transfer to this new site I'm building and see if that helps.