One of the most terrifying moments for any SEO consultant is looking at organic traffic in Google Analytics one day and find something like this:

 

Drop in Organic Traffic

Drop in Organic Traffic

 

Generally, the main challenges is to identify what the cause of the drop is and implement a solution as quick as possible. As SEOs, we need to understand the structure of the website as well as any potential risk (like duplicate content or low quality links for example).

Sometimes this discovery process could take longer that expected and that translates into significant consequences for the business. Time is gold for us, especially because after implementing a solution, it could take a bit of time to see the results.

In order to facilitate this discovery process and save you some time, here is my list of recommendations:

1. Run a ranking report to determine whether if it is a single page or the entire website. From there, you can start to discard options. If you run ranking reports regularly, you can use them to identify which pages have been affected.

2. Find out if the pages affected are indexed. You can do this easily by using the Google Search Operator “site:”. If you think a group of pages may be affected, I would suggest:

  • Full site crawl. Using Screaming Frog or any other software of your preference. Set the custom filter in Screaming Frog to look for “NOINDEX” tags.
  • Robots.txt. Look for “folder”: that has been blocked. (e.g. Disallow: /folder/)
  • Server side check for “X-Robots-tag noindex, nofollow”. If you use Chrome, you could install plugin called POSTMAN to check this easily.

 

POSTman

POSTman

 

3. Find out if any algorithm update was released and when. It is important to keep an eye on any recent updates. Moz offers a list of all the changes here.

Another way to identify is looking the changes in traffic in Google Analytics. If you see a drastic drop overnight, it is likely to be a algorithm filter. It will look similar to this:

 

Sign of Algorithm Filter

Sign of Algorithm Filter

 

4. Check backlinks historical and fresh data. You can use MajesticSEO, OpenSiteExplorer and Webmaster Tools to see if there have been any irregular change in your backlink profile.

5. Ask the other teams if major changes when live since the drop occurred. Check also the notes in Google Analytics to find out if there have been a major changes recently implemented by another team.

 

Hopefully by discovering the cause, you could find the solution and bring back to live your website. The happiest moment for a SEO consultant is to see a website recovering.

 

Recovering from Panda

Recovering from Panda

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I’m a Senior Search Consultant with experience working in different websites across several industries. My aim is to facilitate the interaction between products/services and customers via organic and paid searches.