Finding Drop In Organic Search Traffic- Case Study Of Client

This case study is addressing several concerns from stakeholders and the concerns were as follows:

  • Drop in organic traffic without any changes to the website
  • Majority of the drop is mainly for one specific region
  • A significant drop in conversion rates
  • The drop is across all channels and comparatively higher drop is from organic channel

Organic Traffic can narrow down for a myriad of reasons, sometimes it could be for some major reasons and predominantly due to the implementation of errors and sometimes due to some external factors, which again might impact to a greater proportion or nothing at all.

Below is such an instance where one actually isn’t oblivion about any particular reason of the sudden drop in Organic Traffic, this becomes an even greater problem especially since the organic channel is the biggest source of traffic and the revenue is completely dependent on the Organic Traffic.

I am presently dealing with an account which has a widespread global presence whose revenues are stratospheric and any minor problem can affect largely on the overall revenues for the month, it’s a trying time for the sales and marketing professionals when there are a few predictable cases and many unpredictable ones those which are impacting the organic performance of a website.

Let’s get to the root on what is currently happening on the account:

  • Duration: August 1-20th 2018
  • Drop in Traffic- 10%
  • Drop in conversion rate by 17.5%
  • Transactions by 27%
  • Revenue by 16%

I reckon the following reasons for the depletion:

  1. Since the major drop is from India, it could be a seasonal effect.
  2. Drop in Traffic due to the fall in the average position of keywords.
  3. Drop in traffic that comes from the brand terms, as paid marketers are bidding for it and take some of it.
  4. Any technical glitches/blunders either by the marketing teams or development or both on the systems.

Anything else?

The product availability for the considered duration:

If the product availability is displayed as out of stock, of course, there will be a drop in CTR and in turn drop in the traffic to the website. The product availability snippet can be replaced with the schedule snippets for training, the entertainment industry, rating and reviews for other industries, and something else for some other industry, and its absence will impact the CTR (Click through rate) and in turn the traffic. Anyways, let’s not get into it! Let’s leave the matter to the respective product owners or inventory managers or operation teams to dig into it.

Note: With the drop in CTR search engines push your website down and later it would take some time to retrieve it to its actual positions despite the availability of the product.

1. Since the major drop is from India, it could be a seasonal effect:

August is the month of Independence for India, and along with that the land of diverse festivals is also celebrating Bakri- Eid, both the occasions fall in the mid-week and ergo there is a high possibility of techies/professionals planning their weekends and festivities, that could have been the reason for the drop in searches on internet or on search engines like Google, Bing and more.

Let’s dig a bit deeper and understand if our presumption is true:

Week 2 Vs. Week 1

Some sample data from the webmaster tools

webmaster search impressions data

Some noticeable dip in the horizontal lines exactly the day of Independence day, and it’s not a sharp dip, it’s actually linear over that week. Let’s go a bit deeper to that date, I also observed the Avg position of keywords has come down by 3% and this would have been the actual reason for the drop.

Week Impressions Clicks/Traffic CTR Avg Pos
Week1 Aug 319539 9463 2.96% 24
Week2 Aug 283033 8541 3.02% 24.6
Diff -36506 -922 0.0006 0.6
%Change -11% -10% 2% 3%

2. Drop in Traffic due to the change in keywords SERP and CTR:

Case1: No Change in Avg position of keywords but a gradual drop in impressions:

This clearly implies that the number of searches has come down from the region which is prominently contributing for impressions, here, in this case, India is the major contributor and hence there is a seasonal impact.

For Data Privacy reasons the numbers are alerted in the table and across the article, the altered number has a proportionate difference across the complete set and dimensions,

Queries Week2 Clicks Week1 Clicks Week 2 Imp Week1 Imp Imp Diff Week2 CTR Week1 CTR CTR Diff Week2 Avg Pos Week1 Avg Pos Avp Pos Diff
SEO 10 14 1582 1627 -45 0.63% 0.86% -0.23% 6.2 6.2 0
Email 6 4 911 1177 -266 0.66% 0.34% 0.32% 11 11 0
adwords certification 11 5 986 1047 -61 1.12% 0.48% 0.64% 13 13 0
hubspot certification 5 2 641 765 -124 0.78% 0.26% 0.52% 8.8 8.8 0
business analyst course 17 25 632 735 -103 2.69% 3.40% -0.71% 13 13 0
certified business analysis professional 4 4 354 337 17 1.13% 1.19% -0.06% 9.3 9.3 0
Analytics certification pune 9 10 207 249 -42 4.35% 4.02% 0.33% 3.5 3.5 0
change management training 2 3 246 235 11 0.81% 1.28% -0.47% 29 29 0
soft skill training 2 6 188 220 -32 1.06% 2.73% -1.67% 12 12 0
Analytics certification bangalore 12 12 231 210 21 5.19% 5.71% -0.52% 3.7 3.7 0
big data training in bangalore 1 2 123 196 -73 0.81% 1.02% -0.21% 10 10 0
financial modelling course 5 4 133 169 -36 3.76% 2.37% 1.39% 17 17 0
Analytics certification chennai 12 15 196 166 30 6.12% 9.04% -2.92% 2.9 2.9 0
hubspot foundation certification 6 23 101 149 -48 5.94% 15.44% -9.50% 3 3 0
frm course 4 3 162 147 15 2.47% 2.04% 0.43% 17 17 0
pmi acp training 4 3 103 113 -10 3.88% 2.65% 1.23% 19 19 0

From the above date we understand the seasonal drop is literal and the drop in average position by 3% could have been for some reason and meanwhile there will be an impact of that Avg position drop which we will be figuring out in the other three reasons of drop in organic traffic.

 

Case 2: Improvement in the Average position and drop in traffic.

This is the case when the CTR is low and this usually happens for the following reasons:

  1. Illegibly written titles and descriptions
  2. Product availability as discussed above
  3. The brand value
  4. External factors such as paid marketing and advertisements can consume the traffic.
Queries Week2 Clicks Week1 Clicks Week 2 Imp Week1 Imp Imp Diff Week2 CTR Week1 CTR CTR Diff Week2 Avg Pos Week1 Avg Pos Avp Pos Diff
search engine optimization 34 41 2904 3392 -488 1.17% 1.21% -0.04% 10 11 -1
SEO certification 22 20 1799 2047 -248 1.22% 0.98% 0.24% 7.8 7.9 -0.1
Adwords expert 10 13 738 876 -138 1.36% 1.48% -0.12% 7.8 10 -2.2
Analytics 3 3 918 867 51 0.33% 0.35% -0.02% 9.3 11 -1.7
Analytics certification cost 5 9 538 640 -102 0.93% 1.41% -0.48% 9.6 9.8 -0.2
six sigma certification 7 4 390 509 -119 1.79% 0.79% 1.00% 10 11 -1
cspo 12 10 450 507 -57 2.67% 1.97% 0.70% 6.9 7.3 -0.4
Analytics training centre cochin 0 1 0 448 -448 0% 0.22% -0.22% 0 2.3 -2.3
agile certification 0 3 0 438 -438 0% 0.68% -0.68% 0 11 -11
project management certification 4 11 383 430 -47 1.04% 2.56% -1.52% 13 15 -2
hubspot training 13 7 462 388 74 2.81% 1.80% 1.01% 39 45 -6
itil foundation certification 9 4 452 387 65 1.99% 1.03% 0.96% 23 26 -3
digital marketing course 7 2 435 360 75 1.61% 0.56% 1.05% 41 46 -5
simpliearn pune 16 12 314 343 -29 5.10% 3.50% 1.60% 4.7 4.8 -0.1
scrum master training 2 7 282 329 -47 0.71% 2.13% -1.42% 22 27 -5
agile search engine optimization 8 6 311 323 -12 2.57% 1.86% 0.71% 9.5 9.6 -0.1
simpliearn solutions 15 11 227 281 -54 6.61% 3.91% 2.70% 1.3 1.6 -0.3
safe training 11 10 256 259 -3 4.30% 3.86% 0.44% 9.2 9.5 -0.3
pmi acp 3 4 237 244 -7 1.27% 1.64% -0.37% 8.5 8.7 -0.2
safe agilist 3 2 222 242 -20 1.35% 0.83% 0.52% 9 9.3 -0.3
adwords foundation 4 3 250 231 19 1.60% 1.30% 0.30% 16 18 -2

Case3: Drop in traffic due to drop in the average positions of keywords

Queries Week2 Clicks Week1 Clicks Week 2 Imp Week1 Imp Imp Diff Week2 CTR Week1 CTR CTR Diff Week2 Avg Pos Week1 Avg Pos Avp Pos Diff
Analytics certification 68 78 3200 3589 -389 2.12% 2.17% -0.05% 7.8 7.5 0.3
project management courses 49 61 768 749 19 6.38% 8.14% -1.76% 6.3 5.6 0.7
project management course 23 19 209 242 -33 11% 7.85% 3.15% 4.8 4.2 0.6
Analytics training 18 25 358 507 -149 5.03% 4.93% 0.10% 7.5 6.6 0.9
safe agile certification 17 19 704 800 -96 2.41% 2.38% 0.03% 8.6 8.3 0.3
Analytics certification cost in chennai 13 9 71 42 29 18.31% 21.43% -3.12% 2.8 2.5 0.3
safe certification 11 14 549 578 -29 2% 2.42% -0.42% 7.4 7.1 0.3
project management courses in mumbai 11 3 62 50 12 17.74% 6% 11.74% 1.9 1.8 0.1
primavera p6 training 10 11 114 145 -31 8.77% 7.59% 1.18% 13 11 2
pgmp certification training 10 4 60 65 -5 16.67% 6.15% 10.52% 3.9 3.4 0.5
Email certification 10 9 757 785 -28 1.32% 1.15% 0.17% 9 8.9 0.1
agile training 10 18 529 692 -163 1.89% 2.60% -0.71% 20 17 3
Analytics course 9 14 425 485 -60 2.12% 2.89% -0.77% 22 21 1
project management courses in bangalore 8 6 67 51 16 11.94% 11.76% 0.18% 2.4 1.8 0.6
Analytics certification in delhi 8 16 65 86 -21 12.31% 18.60% -6.29% 2.2 2.1 0.1
Email training 8 11 268 273 -5 2.99% 4.03% -1.04% 4.7 4.4 0.3

This case as well is true, there is a drop in the position and hence there is a drop in CTR and eventually a drop in traffic.

No, getting to the logic of what causes a keyword position drop?

There is one single metric that’s the root cause of the drop in SERP and that’s due to the drop in crawl stats such as crawl frequency and crawl rate,

But how can this Crawl rate or Crawl frequency come down?

  • When the load times are good?
  • When the file’s sizes are small?
  • When the servers are good?
  • When there is no change in the backlink profile?

These are not the only problems that impact the crawl stats, there are many more and they are as follows:

a. Server errors- Header status 500:

This is one of the common issues when the hosting is on shared servers.

The 500 status header will be served when the server is busy and not be able to handle the request and this happens for the following reasons,

 

  • When there is an enormous traffic to the website, as a result, the servers won’t be able to handle a large number of demanding requests and that when they show a 500 server error either to the user or to the bots or to both.
  • Lots of bot traffic to the server and servers won’t be able to handle the requests and in turn, shows 500 server error.
  • There is a possibility of the confirmation files going wrong at a moment or sometimes the commands handling the instructions itself might go wrong.
server errors webmaster tools

b. Soft 404 errors:

Soft 404 errors are those cases when the bots find a status code other than 404 for the non-existing

file on the server. In simple words, if the requested file is not on the server, a server is supposed to serve a 404

(Not found) message/status header and instead if it’s servers serve some other status header instead of

404, it will be considered to be as the soft 404 error, this would impact the crawl rate of the website at a significant level.

soft 404 errors webmaster tools

c. Access denied- Status header 407:

Servers are denying the bots crawling the content and this usually happens when,

  1. Users compulsorily need to login to access content, there will not be an issue if the actual intended pages are denying the access, but if in case the organic performing pages denies access then this can be considered as a huge problem.
  2. Server setting may need proxy authentication and in that case, servers would block the Google bot that is crawling the website.
  3. In case if any of the valid content or URLs are blocked under robots then the” access denied” error is a tremendous error to be handled on priority.
access denied webmaster error

Just to figure out what actually went wrong I cross-checked against the three reasons I found,

Everything is perfectly alright against the points 1st and 3rd,and I could only suspect the new implementation done in the recent times,

Third party cookies storing message

The issue is with the rounded content, the recently updated privacy policy could be the reason for it as everything else remains the same including the server setting, the same can be seen in the first image of the server denied section as the errors appeared only in the recent times

d. Not Found errors- Status header 404:

As seen in the above image the errors have increased by a significant number in the recent times and these 404 errors will impact the crawl rate to a significant level and in turn impacting the avg positions of the keywords on SERP.

Webmaster Not found errors

3. Drop in traffic due to paid marketing:

Drop in traffic that’s coming through the brand terms, and major revenue driving terms as paid marketers bid on it and take some of the shares,

Here are some steps in understanding how to find it,

Brand Organic Search Traffic Drop with the paid marketing:

In the recent times we have launched paid campaigns, as some of the competitors were bidding on our brand terms and were taking off most of the converting traffic from us and ergo we considered launching the paid campaigns:

Paid and organic results

I have also gone through the brand keywords of the webmaster data and I was able to figure that there is a drop in CTR of many of the traffic driving keywords, the keyword data with a drop in CTR can be found below.

Queries Week2 Clicks Week1 Clicks Week 2 Imp Week1 Imp Imp Diff Week2 CTR Week1 CTR CTR Diff
simpliearn 2160 2435 32383 33729 -1346 6.67% 7.22% -0.55%
simpli earn 655 809 10138 10803 -665 6.46% 7.49% -1.03%
simpliearn SEO 68 111 1726 1696 30 3.94% 6.54% -2.60%
simpli earns 54 59 851 907 -56 6.35% 6.50% -0.15%
simpliearn pune 52 36 1213 717 496 4.29% 5.02% -0.73%
simpliearn solutions 50 76 932 1261 -329 5.36% 6.03% -0.67%
simpliearn solutions pvt ltd 34 33 613 534 79 5.55% 6.18% -0.63%
simpliearn bangalore 32 41 1028 875 153 3.11% 4.69% -1.58%
simpliearn solutions pvt. ltd 27 26 419 341 78 6.44% 7.62% -1.18%
simpliearn solutions private limited 25 17 396 271 125 6.31% 6.27% 0.04%
simpliearn solutions pvt. ltd. 25 28 324 282 42 7.72% 9.93% -2.21%
simpliearn reviews 25 45 485 558 -73 5.15% 8.06% -2.91%
simpliearns 24 30 343 356 -13 7% 8.43% -1.43%
simpliearn careers 22 30 70 71 -1 31.43% 42.25% -10.82%

Paid Campaigns effecting the Non Brand Search Traffic (Hit on CTR due to paid search

marketing)

 

To understand this let’s consider some of the products/services that satisfy the following conditions,

  1. The course which has active paid marketing campaigns
  2. The search volume has no change
  3. The Avg position has no change
  4. All the competitors ranking and brand value remain same
  5. Our brand value to is same
  6. There are no changes in any of the external factors except the paid marketing

Now consider all the above, in absence of paid marketing the CTR’s and traffic coming from the specific keywords should be same, but then there is drop in traffic despite no change or improvement in the average position of the keyword on the SERP as depicted in the below table,

 

Queries Week2 Clicks Week1 Clicks Clicks Diff Week 2 Imp Week1 Imp Imp Diff Week2 CTR Week1 CTR CTR Diff Week2 Avg Pos Week1 Avg Pos Avp Pos Diff
project management courses 49 61 -12 768 749 19 6.38% 8.14% -1.76% 6.3 5.6 0.7
search engine optimization bangalore 4 8 -4 90 88 2 4.44% 9.09% -4.65% 3.7 3.5 0.2
digital marketing course berlin 3 4 -1 9 8 1 33.33% 50% -16.67% 1.1 1 0.1
safe agile certification chennai 3 4 -1 9 8 1 33.33% 50% -16.67% 2.1 2 0.1
Analytics certification training 2 3 -1 148 136 12 1.35% 2.21% -0.86% 26 24 2
safe training in pune 2 3 -1 6 5 1 33.33% 60% -26.67% 1.3 1 0.3
quality management certification courses 2 3 -1 48 36 12 4.17% 8.33% -4.16% 6.4 6.1 0.3
scaled agile certification 2 7 -5 184 183 1 1.09% 3.83% -2.74% 8 7.8 0.2
p6 primavera training 1 2 -1 19 17 2 5.26% 11.76% -6.50% 8.5 8.2 0.3
business analyst course in hyderabad 1 2 -1 51 44 7 1.96% 4.55% -2.59% 8.5 7.2 1.3
online safe training 1 2 -1 7 5 2 14.29% 40% -25.71% 3.3 3.2 0.1
scrum master training dallas 1 3 -2 6 5 1 16.67% 60% -43.33% 2.7 2.4 0.3
leading safe 1 4 -3 208 207 1 0.48% 1.93% -1.45% 8.8 8.7 0.1
Analytics certification hyderabad 1 6 -5 53 45 8 1.89% 13.33% -11.44% 2.3 2 0.3
agile search engine optimization in chennai 1 3 -2 21 15 6 4.76% 20% -15.24% 2.6 1.4 1.2
togaf training 1 2 -1 101 90 11 0.99% 2.22% -1.23% 51 37 14

4. Any technical glitches/blunders either by the marketing teams or development or both on the system.

This is one of the most common issues we come across and impacting greatly but least noticed. There is something similar that occurred with our website as well, there were around 2000 web pages which got blocked for search engines crawl and index due to the improper

communication between the technical team and the marketing team and this has led to a drop in traffic coming from those web pages,

Below is the table which clearly depicts the above statement,

Queries Week 2 Imp Week1 Imp Imp Diff
Analytics training centre cochin 0 448 -448
agile certification 0 438 -438
agile project management training 0 230 -230
Adwords expert training 0 225 -225
big data hadoop training 0 209 -209
business analyst training 0 207 -207
cissp training 0 199 -199
digital marketing course in indore 0 172 -172
project management institute 0 168 -168
iiba 0 162 -162
digital marketing course in chandigarh 0 151 -151
pgmp 0 150 -150
hubspot training in chennai 0 139 -139
digital marketing training in indore 0 137 -137
six sigma course 0 132 -132
safe agilist certification 0 130 -130
agile courses 0 118 -118
business management training courses 0 116 -116
simpliearn address 0 113 -113
certified scrum professional 0 112 -112

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.

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