How to Solve Search Traffic Declines

When you initially launched your website, tracking growing traffic numbers was exciting and motivating – something to help measure progress and determine success. However, over time you may have noticed your traffic numbers decline despite continuous efforts on your end to publish unique and engaging content and optimize your website for search.


Instead of losing viewers and watching traffic decrease, you can take steps to determine where you are struggling and work to remedy the situation. To truly understand the decline in traffic, performing a search result audit can reveal the root cause and offer a roadmap to eventually see numbers spike.

The following checklist can help you identify potential issues and find a solution:

Analytics Tracking

  • A simple mistake while updating files with the tracking code could lead to alterations in analytics tracking. While this is a quick fix, it happens surprisingly often. You can use a tool such as the Google Analytics Debugger (from Google) to ensure that your tracking code is set up correctly.

More Competition

  • A competitor’s website could have recently changed, performing better than your site and moving higher in search rankings. Competitors may also be engaging in negative SEO which occurs when a competitor automates a series of spammy links at your website. Conducting routine industry search audits can help you identify any competitors encroaching on your search traffic.

Website Redesign

  • Have you recently overhauled your website design? With any redesign, there’s a strong chance that links will change. If they have changed, you have to inform the search engines by migrating or redirecting these links. A redesign is the perfect time to review your current website optimization, record it, and ensure that all new pages are optimized for search.

Out-of-date Content

  • While including evergreen content and topics that are relevant to the industry will help content stay valuable, pages can still become outdated. Monitoring each page’s individual analytics can help you find the content that either needs to be updated or replaced all together. It’s also possible that viewers may not be drawn in by the content that you are currently publishing. Staying on top of trends and consuming industry articles will help you stay current. While you’re reading trend pieces, engaging in the comments section of those blogs and linking back to a relevant article on your site is an alternative way to drive viewers to your site.

Changes in Search Engine Algorithms

  • There’s a chance that your website was negatively impacted by a major algorithmic update. Google and other search engines are continuously adjusting search algorithms to help weed out lower-quality websites and show only the most helpful results. In the past, Google has given more weight to specific types of content, such as images or videos which can affect how much traffic you receive. In this case, take notice of content that is receiving more traffic and consider creating more of that type. For example, if video is favored, include one in the next piece of content you post.

Ranking Penalties

  • Search engine optimization is a tricky game and participating in outdated SEO tactics to increase rankings will almost always lead to being caught. You can be penalized for manipulating links, cloaking, keyword stuffing content, hiding text or using malware. If you do lose a top page ranking due to over-optimization, it’s time to take a good look at best practices and revise your strategy.

After reviewing this checklist and identifying areas to improve, you should begin to see changes in search results within a few weeks. As search engines re-crawl and re-analyze your site, the new signals paired with each page based on your updates will be used for future ranking.

This is a guest contribution from Darryl Stevens, CEO of Digitech Web Design and SEO, an Austin-based firm that handles website design, search engine optimization campaigns, and online marketing for small businesses.