Organic Traffic to My Website has Vanished! What Can I Do?
NOVEMBER 10, 2015
Digital marketeers are not scared of dragons and under-the-bed ghosts. What sends chills down their spine is a much more mundane.
This image is any digital marketeer’s worst nightmare come true.
You wake up one day, enter your Google Analytics window and boom! Virtually all organic traffic to your website has evaporated. Overnight.
Before you know what has happened, you receive a phone call from your boss who yells at you to either solve the crises or start your hunt for a new place to work. What can you do?
Relax because worrying along will not up the visitor count. You need a concrete plan.
Find Out What Has Happened
You may think: “It is no-brainer, genius! I already knew it! Thanks!”
It is awesome, if you already know the next course of action! For everyone else, here is a guide:
Speak to Your Developers
Is the website still online? Are the links working? Is there a blackout? The Internet is a complex machine. A lot of things can go wrong.
Once you have ensured there is no technical fault, log into your Gmail.
Check Your Gmail
Google imposes more than 400,000 manual penalties each week. You will have received a mail from Google if you were caught in the storm this time.
Your website can invite a manual penalty for a number of reasons that can range from over-optimization to extensive use of H1 tags or low-quality backlinks. Whatever the reason, you will receive a hint on what you need to do before google revokes the penalty.
What if there is no email from Google and no technical problem?
You may have incurred an algorithmic Google penalty.
Unlike in the case of manual penalty, you do not receive any notification from Google. But if there are no issues on the developing front and there is a sudden drop in organic traffic, you can more or less be certain that your website has been slapped with an algorithmic penalty.
Now you can relax because at least you know what may have happened. You can tell this to your boss to soothe him or her a little, without taking your eyes off your primary goal--bring back all those lost visitors.
Why Did Google Penalize Your Website?
Although Google does not publish specific guidelines whose breach can invite a penalty, SEO experts have come up with their own lists.
Here is Claire Broadley’s popular post 50 Reasons Your Website Deserves to Be Penalized By Google on Kissmetrics and an article on Google Penalties & The Causes of Them by Mark Walter which you will find useful.
What Can You Do To Revoke a Google Penalty?
Each case is different, so the exact plan to successfully revoke a Google penalty will vary with the underlying causes of penalty and how much damage you have suffered.
You may be interested in a latest post from Moz, where contributor Anna Korolekh shares how she managed to upturn a manual penalty from Google for her client. You can read the entire story on Case Study: How We Removed a Massive Manual Google Penalty in 5 Steps.
Neil Patel also has useful advice--The Complete Guide to Google Penalties (Both Manual and Algorithmic)--on what you can do to reclaim your organic traffic in the face of a penalty.
The Moz blog and Neil Patel’s PDF document essentially say the same thing:
Work On Content. Remove all traces of duplicate and low-quality content from the website. Even one rotten apple can damage the reputation of your entire website.
Disavow Low Quality Links. Manually check all the links and disavow those that do not match your standard of quality. It may take anywhere from a few days to a whole year or more.
Resubmit Your Website for Consideration. Submit your website for consideration to Google. If you are famous (like eBay) and have done everything right, you can get back to being normal in less than a week. But if you are a small business, you may have to wait for a month or more.
Google Penalties are bad, especially for small businesses. Try your best not to attract them in the first place. But if it already too late, read what industry leaders say about removing penalties and connect with professionals to figure out a complete plan.