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On the 2nd of October, Google tweeted out of a bug with the way they index content on the web, which was causing some sites and their content to be deindexed. This, ultimately, resulted in a sudden and consistent drop in traffic:

As much as this caused quite a stir and panic in the SEO industry, Google made clear that this was a fault their end and there was nothing website owners had to do, in order to resolve the issue:

Ultimately, this an issue that has appeared to be fixed quite smoothly. Website owners are reporting indexing of pages again, and traffic back to normal, without any decrease or negative impact on rankings.

However, this does beg an important question for website owners – what to do when traffic drops? With this in mind, here is a step by step process that would be a good idea to do when seeing worrying statistics.


Confirm there is a Traffic Drop

By comparing traffic to a consistent baseline (such as a previous day or the week, or same-day last week), you are better able to see any anomalous spikes or drops in traffic. I tend to find Sunday is a great day for predicting the traffic of the upcoming week. If I see a 10% increase on traffic every Sunday, I’ll expect and usually see ~10% increase during the week. If one Sunday the traffic drops 5%, then I will expect and see the traffic to drop 5% too for the oncoming week.

For example, take one of my website’s statistics below, comparing to the same day of the previous week.

Highlighted in the red box shows an abnormal drop int traffic for a very early time of the day, by as much as 50% at it’s worst. In this situation, this would warrant enough of a drop to question, what is going on?


Look for Obvious Reasons for Traffic Drop

The first step to fixing the traffic drop is finding what is causing it. With this, here is a list of quick and easy steps I take to confirm potential obvious issues with the traffic drop:

  • Is the website live and working with and without caching?
  • Is the CDN working?
  • Has the site been hacked and redirecting traffic (run a Wordfence malware scan)
  • Is the server overloaded?
  • Is there a critical error (in terms of code) with the website?
  • Has competition in your sector increased?
  • Have any plugins been updated since the traffic drop?
  • Are all content on the site seeing a drop in traffic, or is it just a few articles?


Check Twitter, SEO Sites, and Google Search News

If the above have all been checked, then it is a good idea to look at Twitter, SEO news sites, and Google Search news. This will help you see whether:

  • Google has made an update to its algorithms
  • There is a bug with Google (such as with the most recent case)
  • SEO news sites have reported some sort of discovery that could cause the traffic drop
  • Other website owners are reporting similar issues, so it is not an isolated issue to just your site

Will created Ask Will Online back in 2010 to help students revise and bloggers make money developing himself into an expert in PPC, blogging SEO, and online marketing. He now runs others websites such as Poem Analysis, Book Analysis, and Ocean Info. You can follow him @willGreeny.

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