On a Google blog post, Daniel Weisberg discussed some reasons why traffic may have dropped and how to use the Search Console and Google Trends performance report to start debugging search traffic drops.
So, there are 5 main reasons for the drop in search traffic:
- Technical problems. These are errors that can prevent Google from crawling, indexing, or serving your pages to users. For example, server availability, getting a robots.txt file, page not found, etc. The problems can be site-wide (for example, the entire website is down) or for the entire page (for example, an inappropriate noindex that will depend on crawling Google page, which means slower traffic drop).
- Security concerns. If a site is compromised, Google can warn users before they reach it with alerts or interstitials, which can reduce search traffic.
- Manual sanctions. If a resource does not comply with Google's recommendations, then some or all of the pages may be excluded from Google search results as a result of sanctions.
- Algorithm changes. Google is always improving its algorithms. Updates, both major and minor, can change how some pages appear in Google search results.
- Change user interest in search. Sometimes this happens either as a result of a new trend or as a result of seasonality throughout the year. This means that traffic can drop simply as a result of external influences.
Since images are worth a thousand words, the best way to understand what's wrong with your traffic is to look at the main chart of the Search Console Performance report.
From the Search Performance report, you can do the following:
- change the date range to include 16 months. This will help ensure that the decline does not occur every year as a result of the trend. If you need to extend 16 months, then you can use the Search Analytics API to retrieve data and store it in systems;
- compare the period of loss with the same period. This will help you understand exactly what has changed. It is worth scrolling through the tabs to see if the change has occurred only for specific queries, URLs, countries, devices, or search terms;
- analyze different types of search separately. This will help you understand if the crash occurred in web search, Google Images, or video or news tab.