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How to Diagnose Organic Search Traffic Drops


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A presentation titled 'Help! My Organic Search Traffic is Tanking' I delivered at in Melbourne. A step-by-step guide on how to diagnose SEO traffic drops in a methodical way.

Published in: Marketing
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How to Diagnose Organic Search Traffic Drops

  1. 1. @jasonmun Help! My Organic Search Traffic is Tanking 13th May 2019
  2. 2. @jasonmun Overdose Digital // Digital Commerce Agency Jason Mun Director of Search & Insights @jasonmun /
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  5. 5. @jasonmun QUICK SHOW OF HANDS
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  9. 9. @jasonmun OrganicTraffic Timeline Started here Grew traffic by xx%
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  11. 11. @jasonmun OrganicTraffic Timeline
  12. 12. @jasonmun OrganicTraffic Timeline
  13. 13. @jasonmun 😟 😧 😡 🤬
  14. 14. @jasonmun How to Diagnose SEO Traffic Drops
  15. 15. @jasonmun 1. Communicate & Ask Questions ❑ Do you know what happened on this date? ❑ Was there any major change to the website around this date period? ❑ Can you please check change logs for this date period?
  16. 16. @jasonmun 2. Check Google Analytics Tagging Install Google Tag Assistant, click around the website
  17. 17. @jasonmun Use Screaming Frog to Verify GA Code Configuration > Custom > Search Searches the source code for UA-XXXXX GA code
  18. 18. @jasonmun Use Screaming Frog to Verify GA Code Click on Custom tabThere shouldn’t be pages with missing code
  19. 19. @jasonmun Google Analytics Change History Admin > Account > Change History Lookout for major configuration changes – particularly filters & exclusions
  20. 20. @jasonmun 3. Check Robots.txt File User-agent: * Disallow: / • Check that the robots.txt file is still there • Search engines CANNOT rank what they cannot crawl or index • Lookout for any other changes that may have restricted or opened up the crawl of pages of the website
  21. 21. @jasonmun 4. Check Meta Robots Tags Click on Directives tab Check NOINDEX report • Check that meta robots tags have been implemented correctly • Make sure that key pages on the website are still INDEX, FOLLOW • Check NOINDEX report for any discrepancies
  22. 22. @jasonmun 5. Compare Technical SEO Checkpoints • Run a fresh crawl of the website, compare it with the last crawl • Lookout for any major changes to on-site, content, canonical tags, etc
  23. 23. @jasonmun Setup Monitoring to Detect Changes Use change detection tools and notification to catch any future issues before they become a major issue
  24. 24. @jasonmun 6. Has the Website been Penalised? Google Search Console > Manual Actions • Check for any manual actions that may be imposed on the website • Unnatural links to your site, spammy structured data, hacked website are some common manual actions
  25. 25. @jasonmun 7. Check for Crappy Links • Lookout for irregular spikes in referring domains and number of links • Check anchor text usage and ratio • Analyse the quality (Domain Rating) of the new referring domains to the website • If the referring domain looks spammy, not in the same niche or feels out of place – flag them • Upload and update the disavow file (
  26. 26. @jasonmun Pay Close Attention to Networks • The “Referring IPs” report in Ahrefs is great for detecting networks • Excessive number of referring domains and links from the same IP ranges can be problematic • Investigate if they are valid, relevant or spammy • Flag them and add to the disavow file
  27. 27. @jasonmun 8. Was there an Algorithm Update? • Check the news, blogs, tweets and forums for any algo related updates • Use SERP trackers such as SEMrush sensor, Algoroo, Mozcast, etc to check volatility
  28. 28. @jasonmun Overlay Google Analytics Data with Algo Updates • If you are doing historical analysis, use Panguin Tool to overlay GA data with algorithm updates • Check for correlation of updates to traffic declines • Use the filters and options to slice and dice data and views • Find a hint and investigate further
  29. 29. @jasonmun 9. Check Your Rankings Use your rankings tool of choice, look for macro (month-on-month) and micro (day-by-by) trends in movements
  30. 30. @jasonmun Check for SERP Feature Changes SERP changes can often impact clicks, impressions and CTR
  31. 31. @jasonmun 10. Compare Against Competitors If we are losing in rankings and traffic, someone else is winning. Find out who and investigate why Google loves them more than you.
  32. 32. @jasonmun Check the Movement of “Other” Competing Websites
  33. 33. @jasonmun 11. Google Search Console Deep Dive Google Search Console • Analyse the performance data in GSC • Compare data before the decline – choose daily, weekly, monthly or yearly comparisons • Check the query report as well as pages report • Utilise filters to slice-n-dice the data available • Lookout for any trends (negative or positive)
  34. 34. @jasonmun Export ALL Data in to Google Sheets Bypass the 1,000 export limit of GSC interface
  35. 35. @jasonmun Check Crawl Behaviour Investigate irregular crawl behaviour with log file analysis. Make sure crawl budget is not wasted
  36. 36. @jasonmun Check Indexation Levels Check for irregular spikes and declines Don’t ignore these, they provide a new level of insight in to indexation issues
  37. 37. @jasonmun 12. Google Analytics Deep Dive Google Analytics > Acquisition > Campaigns > Organic Keywords > Landing Page • Compare data before the decline – choose daily, weekly, monthly or yearly comparisons • Compare organic channel vs paid search channel – is there cannibilisation? • Compare data for desktop vs. mobile • Look out for trends based on page types (category, sub-category, product, blog) • Find a common trend and do a deeper dive
  38. 38. @jasonmun Analysing Data via Google Interface Sucks Export ALL your data and manipulate in Excel or Google Sheets
  39. 39. @jasonmun Example of a Weekly Analysis
  40. 40. @jasonmun 13. Ask Your Peers & Consult Other Experts • If all else fails, seek help from others • Post a question in forums, tweet and message others • Participate in Google Webmaster Hangouts • Get a second opinion from other experts and consultants
  41. 41. @jasonmun 😧 Don’t Panic Be methodical & run your checks📝 📉 Analyse data & let it guide your investigation 🛠 Work through issues, process of elimination 😃 Transparency + Communication = Happy Client!
  42. 42. @jasonmun 🙏 THANK YOU 🤟
  43. 43. @jasonmun Overdose Digital // Digital Commerce Agency Jason Mun Director of Search & Insights @jasonmun /