Drop In Organic Search Traffic- Problem Solved

“Never neglect finding the reason for drop in organic traffic regardless of its range, small or big, it actually signifies many serious underlying problems and not addressing those problems would impact big on traffic, user engagement and Conversion rates"

Coming back to the problem of a drop in SEO traffic!

One of our client who is into the education domain had seen a drop in their organic traffic and which was also consistent month on month and was bothering them and the complete SEO team and hence they wanted it to be addressed on priority and that’s when I had involved in finding the drop in organic traffic.

For the month of April-2018, they had seen an 8%-10% drop in traffic compared to its previous month the same number of days, and we started analyzing the things and found the following,

  • Average position (SERP) of some of the core Keywords had a significant drop
  • Slight changes in keyword rankings (Average position) of many keywords and this led to a drop in CTR and in turn traffic.

Finding the above two reasons is easy for people whoever have access to the Google analytics and webmaster tools, but then finding the reason for the drop in keyword rankings/SERP is crucial and many times many of the digital marketing professionals fail in finding the underlying cause for such drops.

However, with my experience working on massive projects with the tight deadlines on sales and revenue I have learned touching the core of any problem and with that expertise I have, I am trying to solve this.

Coming back,

The drop in SERP can be for many reasons but then we found the following is the main reason for the drop in SERP.

1. Drop in crawl rate due to increased load times/ increased response times and page sizes

Bots are taking very long time to crawl and download pages which in turn lets bots to crawl very few pages.

The pages crawled per day, kilobytes of data downloaded and time spent in downloading are equally proportionate up to December last week, but then from later on the time spent in downloading the data has increased several times despite drop in pages crawled per day and kilobytes downloaded has come down.

 

Crawl stats

Load Times of web pages have more than 4s which should be less than 3S

The below screenshot depicts the load times and page sizes of the webpages

website load times

Source URL: https://tools.pingdom.com/#!/cC3qjF/https://www.knowledgehut.com/project-management/pmbok-guide-5th-edition-vs-6th-edition-training

  • Load Times of web pages are more than 4s which should be less than 3S in worse case
  • Page Size is nearly 2MB which should be Less than 700Kb in worse cases if this can be brought down to less than 700kb that will be great.

 

We see increased load times and page sizes for blog pages as well and details are as follows:

Website load times

https://tools.pingdom.com/#!/ckkn3I/https://www.knowledgehut.com/blog/agile-management/best-ways-to-split-user-stories-for-efficient-product

 

Bots are taking very long time to crawl and download pages which in turn lets bots to crawl very few pages when compared against their actual bandwidth/capabilities at better load times and small page sizes.

Time spent in crawling the pages per day has increased, to understand the same better we have considered the crawl details of the recent 4 months and we find it to be as follows:

The time spent in downloading content is always directly proportional with the number of pages crawled, if the pages crawled increases the time spent also will increase on overall, but then the average time spent per page should remain the same and we see it be maintaining a certain proportion and in recent times we see that proportionate difference getting changed as shown in the below graph.

 

As we see in graph in Dec month pages crawled per day was high and overall time spent in crawling the pages was low but from the month of March Pages crawled per day has decreased and time spent has no proportionate decrease, and hence it implied the time spent in downloading the same amount of content has increased.

Time spent vs pages crawled

2. Increased crawl errors

Increase in server errors from mid of December & increase in errors by a significant number during February

Crawl errors

Let’s understand how exactly the decreased crawl rate has impacted SEO,

With the decreased crawl rate many pages have lost their internal links and hence poor performance of the same.

  • There is a drop of around 3 lakh internal links, these impacted pages would lose their SERP or keywords might not rank up at all related to these pages if these internal links are completely zero.

 

Here are few course pages for which we have seen a big drop in internal links and this intern let the average position come down.

Internal Links vs average position study
Course Pages April Links March Link Diff % Lost Apr Position Mar Position Pos lost
Static Pages 64259 81227 -16968 -21% 20.0 15.8 -4.2
python 101 16109 21069 -4960 -24% 39.0 32.0 -7.0
hadoop essentials 15445 21027 -5582 -27% 24.0 10.0 -14.0
icagile certified professional foundations of devops icp fdo 16347 20675 -4328 -21% 14.0 13.0 -1.0
agile and scrum 16162 20603 -4441 -22% 15.1 8.8 -6.3
angular js 16141 20365 -4224 -21% 34.0 31.0 -3.0
devops essentials with jenkins 16366 20295 -3929 -19% 22.0 17.0 -5.0
cloudera designing and building big data applications 15687 19923 -4236 -21% 47.0 46.0 -1.0
itil foundation certification 16443 19848 -3405 -17% 33.5 32.5 -1.0
change management 16223 19797 -3574 -18% 35.0 26.0 -9.0
introduction to microsoft project 2016 16988 19792 -2804 -14% 32.0 27.0 -5.0
microsoft project 2013 16109 19774 -3665 -19% 18.8 14.2 -4.6
itil intermediate service operation 4671 5898 -1227 -21% 31.0 0.0 -31.0
angularjs 20 4890 5502 -612 -11% 35.0 29.0 -6.0
cmmi 1218 1710 -492 -29% 19.0 17.0 -2.0
csm certification 732 1567 -835 -53% 14.9 9.8 -5.1
certified agile essentials 1053 1174 -121 -10% 25.0 17.0 -8.0
cfa level 1 695 1143 -448 -39% 40.0 39.0 -1.0
certified professional basic agile testing 876 1076 -200 -19% 25.0 24.0 -1.0
pmp certification 485 1069 -584 -55% 10.5 7.2 -3.3
certified agile tester 869 1066 -197 -18% 19.0 16.0 -3.0
safe40advanced scrum master course 876 977 -101 -10% 13.0 11.0 -2.0

3. Drop in CTR of certain web pages

We found another case where the keyword position or SERP had no change, the market potential remains same and no technical changes were done on the website, despite all it being proper we had still seen drop in traffic for some of the web pages and the reason for it was due to drop In CTR (Click through rate), typically the CTR drop happens with the drop in SERP’s.

We found the drop reason,

In the recent months before the drop in SEO traffic there was a significant change or drop in the schedules for many regions and with the drop in schedules search engines had no snippets to show on result page as shown in the below image and not showing the schedule snippets on search results  led to drop In CTR and in turn drop in traffic.

Educational event richsnippets

Conclusion:

The drop in traffic is for the following reasons:

  1. High potential pages- Due to drop in crawl rates
  2. Low potential pages/second priority pages- Due to decreased CTR with few no.of workshops listing on search results page. This is a special case as even with the increased crawl frequency for these pages we have seen a drop in CTR & SERP, and that is purely with the drop in CTR.

About kandra

Manjunath Kandra envisions of evolving the current market into a well established one where the best of people's interests are showcased. He is intrigued by the very essence of Digital Marketing and it's deeper insights.

He has worked for a lot of companies and has a track record of achieving an exercised set of rules and has accomplished in every spectrum.
Manjunath Kandra endeavors to learn more about Digital Marketing and become a well-known resource person in this sphere. He desires to be assistance to as many as brighter minds who are devoid of opportunities.

1 thought on “Drop In Organic Search Traffic- Problem Solved”

  1. Wow, I wasn’t aware of these many reasons behind such traffic drop. Really, you have explained the important details in this article. Since we are looking after any SEO project like Blog, Website etc. for a considerable duration of time, then it’s our responsibility that we should determine the track record and should make required changes on regular interval say in every 6-7 months. And the changes should be done in accordance with the rank position, keyword search volume, organic traffics etc.

    As far as I know, what Google usually does is that it pushes us down by implementing updates in their search algorithm. Sometimes we are unaware of those algorithms and we keep publishing our contents without knowing them. As a result, we experience a drop in our organic traffic. But ignoring such technical changes in their algorithm leads us to such a serious penalty.

    Anyways, very interesting subject and easy to understand. Many thanks for the explanations and the details. Good luck and keep sharing.

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