We recently saw an article in Search Engine Land that suggests drops in search traffic are often not caused by algorithm changes.
But is that really true?
The author of the piece suggests that when website traffic numbers begin declining – look elsewhere first and don’t just assume you have suffered an algorithm penalty.
So where should one look?
According to this author, start here (and our thoughts are in bold):
- Think mobile. If you have not created a fully responsive website – you may be seeing a drop in traffic from mobile searches. (Wait – wouldn’t that be an algorithm penalty?)
- Review historical data. Maybe you have a page with stale or thin content that used to be a traffic driver that is now in decline (hmmm – again sounds like another algorithm penalty).
- Check your analytics tracking code to make sure all your pages are being properly tracked. (Ok. We agree with this one.)
- Have changes in how people search – and the rise of mobile searches – pushed you down in the rankings? (We also agree with this point.)
- Check to see if other communication channels have fallen silent – thus impacting your traffic counts. (Yup – like this one.)
- Check for technical issues. Has your developer team made changes to meta tags or other code that could be impacting traffic? (Yup – worth checking).
- Do a site audit to check for thin, poor quality content. (Ok – once again – if your traffic numbers have declined due to the quality of your content – you have indeed suffered an algorithm penalty.)
Ok – here’s our point… if you’ve done things like add spammy backlinks, or added thin or duplicate copy or done things that adversely impact a website visitor’s experience – and you’ve seen a drop in page rank and traffic – you have suffered an algorithm hit. It’s that maddeningly simple
And one more thing to remember – the algorithms Google uses change daily and often with zero fanfare. So learn as much as you can about Hummingbird, Panda and Penguin so that you understand Google’s rules. Your website will thank you.