“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.
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.
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
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:
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.
2. Increased crawl errors
Increase in server errors from mid of December & increase in errors by a significant number during February
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.
|Course Pages||April Links||March Link||Diff||% Lost||Apr Position||Mar Position||Pos lost|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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.
The drop in traffic is for the following reasons:
- High potential pages- Due to drop in crawl rates
- 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.