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30 Potential Reasons Why Your Organic Traffic Recently Dropped

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by Nick Rojas

Organic traffic is the foundation for nearly all websites. It provides you with the online visibility needed to reach your target audience, and an outlet to serve up your marketing messages. If your organic traffic has recently dropped, it is vital to find out exactly why.

The staffing and recruiting industry is more digital than ever before. Recruiters are leveraging their online presence to connect more qualified candidates with their clients.

Recruiting company websites, staffing blogs, and professional social platforms like LinkedIn all play a major role in your growth and success online. However, Google is monitoring your website very closely with a grab bag of Google penalties available to impact your search engine rankings negatively. How you deliver content, in what way, and a variety of other factors can have an impact on your rankings.

If you notice your organic traffic has recently dropped, Google may have penalized your site. Let’s take a look at 30 reasons why this may have happened.

  1. Your Site Contains Duplicate Content

Duplicate content on your site is a no-no in Google’s eyes. This can be easy to do if you have a lot of web pages, but be on the lookout for this if you see a drop in organic traffic. You can use online platforms like Copyscape to ensure your content stays unique.

  1. Using Too Many H1 Tags

Ensuring your website content is structured properly is a must, and the H1 tag is an important part of that structure. The H1 tag tells Google what your page is about, and too many will confuse Google – which may result in a drop in traffic.

  1. Buying Links

Establishing external links to your site is an important and valuable SEO technique for higher rankings. However, buying links is not a “white hat” SEO tactic in Google’s eyes. Earn quality backlinks via high quality and shareable content instead.

  1. Keyword Stuffing

Once a common ranking tactic, keyword stuffing will definitely cause your organic website traffic to drop. Too many keywords on one page is considered spammy and Google will consider your page poor, thus dropping you in SERPs. Content tools like Yoast can help you keep keywords in check.

  1. You Have Broken Links

Keeping your links up-to-date signals to Google that you care about your website’s user experience. It is good to look for broken links to keep your site visitors directed to a page that works.

  1. Using Scraped Content

Another potential reason your organic traffic dropped is if you used scraped content to fill in your website pages. This falls into duplicate content, and Google will not reward you for this. Make sure all your content is unique and natural.

  1. Your Sitemap Data is Outdated or Non-Existent

Sitemap data is like a roadmap for Google, and without it, you could be missing out on ranking benefits. Create a sitemap for your website, keep it updated, and be sure to submit it to Google via Webmaster Tools.

  1. Poor Use of Anchor Text

The 2012 Penguin Update has made anchor text slightly more important. You want your anchor text to be natural and not too keyword heavy to keep your organic traffic intact.

  1. Your Website Goes Down

This is an important one. If your website goes down or is not stable, Google will drop you in ranking, or simply deindex you altogether. This happens because Google wants to provide searchers with the results they query. If your site can’t offer said results, your traffic will drop significantly.

  1. Keyword Domains

Exact match domains are risky when it comes to ranking and traffic. You want to keep your domain name unique, but if you must use one of your keywords in your domain, be sure to have a stellar site with tons of content.

  1. You are Link Swapping

Link swapping will get your website in trouble with search engines. This was once a harmless tactic, but will most certainly earn you a penalty and drop in organic traffic if done too often.

  1. Enlisting the Help of Blogging Networks

This will be less of an issue, since nearly all blogging networks are gone. However, a few subtle ones do still exist. If you accidentally got involved with a blogging network, disavow any and all links from that site to keep your traffic intact.

  1. Too Many Affiliate Links

Affiliate links are not necessarily a problem. However, a very high number of affiliate links all over your website is another no-no in Google’s eyes. Too many affiliate links signals to Google that your site content may not be so great for searchers.

  1. Slow Site Speed

This is a ranking factor that is very important for your organic traffic. When a site loads slowly, users will not be happy, and Google is tracking this. You can use Google PageSpeed Insights to troubleshoot, and track your page load time via Google Analytics.

  1. Not Checking Your Comment Spam

This is often an overlooked cause for site traffic to drop. Comment spam, however, can do some ranking harm. You can set your comment system to weed out the spam, or you can just turn the commenting option off completely to solve the issue.

  1. Spinning Content

Spinning content is still in practice, and if you do it, you could end up paying the price via Google Penalty. It is important to ensure all your content is 100 percent unique and passes the tests offered by plagiarism tools you can access online.

  1. Discussing Black Hat SEO Tactics

Black Hat SEO tactics are any search engine optimization technique that manipulates search engines for rankings and traffic. If you use these tactics, you will certainly see a drop in traffic. Interestingly, if you discuss these tactics in a positive way on your site, you may also get a Google penalty.

  1. Robots.txt

The robots.txt file is a way to tell search engines what content you want to crawl and index. This could be used for pages that are not quite done yet or redoing. However, using robots.txt excessively will cause your organic traffic to drop via penalty.

  1. Link Building Too Fast

Google is always watching for sites manipulating ranking via links. Your external links should appear naturally earned, so if you earn a large number too quickly, it tells Google something fishy is going on. The best way to earn links and keep your traffic rolling in steadily is through quality content.

  1. Too Many Landing Pages

The use of multiple landing pages to improve search visibility and rankings is not a bad thing, as long as it is done the right way. Creating landing pages to simply increase ranking will cause your ranking to drop. To avoid a penalty, ensure each page you create provides robust content geared toward searchers.

  1. Over-Optimization

Yes, this is actually a thing, and it can cause your organic traffic to drop. Naturally, you want to out rank your competitors, but if you over-optimize your site could be penalized.

  1. Excessive Outbound Links

Like inbound link building, it should be natural and easy to digest for Google. If your page is riddled with excessive outbound links, it signals that you may be swapping links.

  1. Site Terrorism

Site terrorism and negative SEO is not so much in your control, and could happen to anyone. Competitors can send Google penalties your way in order to drop your rankings and kill your traffic. This can be done via bad backlinks. The best defense is to always check your link portfolio and have a link disavow scheduled every month.

  1. Spam Keywords

There are a number of keywords out there associated with spam, like “payday loans” for example. If your industry keywords have a spammy reputation, be aware that you may lose traffic over it.

  1. Having a Not So Mobile-Friendly Site

Smartphones are more innovative than ever, and people are mobile because of it. This makes having a mobile-friendly site essential to keeping your organic traffic in place. Google is predicted to roll out a Mobile-First Index in the near future as well, so stay a step ahead of the mobile SEO trend.

  1. Your Primary Focus is Ads

We all want to make money from our websites, but using ads in an excessive way can cause your organic traffic to drop. This is mainly due to a poor user experience. Put your audience and content first, and then think ads.

  1. Not Enough Outbound Links

Excessive outbound links can cause a drop in traffic, and so could too few. Your outbound links should be balanced, because search engines reward those who link to high quality sites.

  1. You’re Using a Content Farm

Google’s Panda Penalty could be in your future if you are using a content farm. Content farms often produce poor, thin content with little to offer searchers, and Google sees this as a big negative. Produce and publish high quality content that offers answers about their search queries.

  1. Quick Fix Ranking Scams

SEO and getting websites to rank on page one of Google is extremely challenging. It takes time, effort, and investment – so be wary of anyone claiming to get your site on page one in a short amount of time. There is no magic formula, and though they may get you ranked quickly, their tactics will earn you a penalty that will hinder your organic traffic for years.

  1. Stolen Content

If you take the above reasons for a loss in organic traffic to heart, your website will be structured perfectly, producing quality content, and ranking high in SERPs. This, unfortunately, will make you the target of content thieves. If someone steals your content, take DMCA action and be sure to let Google know, so you can avoid potential penalties.

There are plenty of reasons why your organic traffic dropped. Some of your own volition, and some completely out of your control. If you notice a drop in rankings and traffic, work your way down the above list to identify the issue, solve it, and get back to business.


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