Many website owners and SEO managers start to worry if they see a drop in organic search traffic. They run every potential problem in their head, and then they try this and that to fix the issue faster than quickly. If this has happened to you, wouldn’t it have been helpful to have a checklist of possible perpetrators so you could methodically diagnose what was going on?

We find that beginning with some simple system checks and progressing systematically into other methods of diagnoses saves worry, time and money.

This is what we recommend.

  1. Review Your Analytics to Diagnose Organic Search Traffic Declines

Before you get your head in a mess wondering what’s gone wrong with your organic search traffic, make sure you’re actually seeing a real problem. Check your analytics first. Take a moment to ensure your program is installed and running correctly. Be certain nothing is jeopardized like your tracking. Many people lose sleep over issues that are just data related.

If you can’t find any tracking errors, check for landing pages that may have lost traffic as well as loss of organic search traffic, pertaining to the top keywords, browsers, search engines, devices, languages and regions. Should everything appear fine, you might simply be seeing normal noise.

Sometimes, metrics go down and then up again for no significant reason. You can look at your site’s history to evaluate whether or not the loss is seasonal or predictable. When your analytics DO look awry, it’s time to head to step 2.

  1. Check Changes to Your Website

When you have a drop in organic search traffic and you’ve confirmed your data isn’t the problem, check recent changes to your website. You should be keeping a list or log of major changes and slight tweaks to your site.

Review this and highlight anytime you’ve migrated URLs, altered title tags, moved JavaScript frameworks or removed items from your navigation menu. All of these changes can affect SEO traffic and should give you a reasonable understanding of what’s happening.

organic search traffic

  1. Look for Recent Google Algorithm Updates

You can check Search Engine Land, Moz and Moz’ algorithm history to see if there has been a recent Google algorithm update. If there was an update, you may be able to then correlate how it could have affected your organic search traffic,.

Often, it takes a bit of research to understand the nature of the update and the impact it has on your site. But, it’s definitely worth diving into so you can make the changes necessary to bounce back from any drop.

  1. Look for a New Competitor

You may have a new competitor in your neighborhood or a competitor with new tactics that are wrecking your rankings. To find out if a loss in organic search traffic is due to new competition or new strategies from a competitor, refer to BrightEdge’s Share of Voice, SEMrush’s Rankings Distribution Report and GetStat’s Share of Voice.

These resources will help you investigate keywords you may be losing or have lost. They’ll assist you in finding out if your drop in traffic is a trend due to a competitor launching new page types, adding SEO content to their pages or building more SEO internal links than you are.

[For more of our favorite SEO Tools, check out our 10-Step SEO Content Playbook.]

  1. See if You Have Pages that Dropped Out of the Index

If you’ve disallowed or noindexed any URLs through meta tags, robots.txt or HTTP headers, you might have accidentally ruined your results – temporarily. This can all be easily fixed. Search Console’s Index Status Report will let you know if you have a lot fewer URLs that are currently being indexed, which may also be the case if you aren’t prioritizing mobile search.

When you’ve worked through these 5 steps, you may clearly see the culprit in your loss of organic search traffic. Many times, however, it takes many more courses of actions to crystalize the issue. Contact Galileo Tech Media to learn more.