As I send out analytics reports, I am delighted to tell people that their traffic is up by 700% and pleased to tell them that their traffic has increased by 45%, but every now and then I have to report falling website traffic.
This doesn’t make me happy.
I used to work with a woman named Tammy. Her feelings on the metrics we reported for our shared client (she did PPC and I did organic SEO) were philosophical: “They go up and down,” she said. “This is real life.”
She had a point. You see fluctuations in your productivity app, your weight, your Fitbit numbers and your damage score at the proving grounds, so why shouldn’t you see some fluctuations in your website traffic? The traffic at high-performing sites shows a jagged line, not a smooth one.
But that’s not a satisfying answer, even if it might be the right one. And before you accept it, it makes sense to dig around a bit and see if you can get something less philosophical and more actionable.
Read on for some possibilities.
You’re seeing a correction.
Did you see a social media post go viral last quarter? Did you filter out spam traffic? Did you have a spike in traffic from a link at a news source?
Those things might have made last quarter’s traffic look great, but you probably can’t repeat them every quarter. A spike can make your traffic sink the next quarter, because it went up unusually high for a short time in the previous quarter. You can see this in the analytics shot above.
Check your year-over-year data. If you’re still seeing good increases year over year, there’s nothing to worry about.
Search for your keywords is down.
People don’t search for the same keywords all the time. We write about both Zika virus and the flu for our clients, and we don’t expect steady traffic to both types of posts, because we know that search volume for the two terms is not steady. Google Trends shows this clearly:
So if search is down for your keyword terms, you may see a drop in organic search traffic. This is often seasonal; it may also reflect changes in the terms people use, or in the level of interest in a product.
It makes sense to be aware of changes in search volume. It may not affect your business, or it may give you some needed down time. Either way, you’ll know that you don’t have a problem with your website.
You might want to add other keywords to your goals. You might want to do some digital advertising during slow seasons for organic search. Your choice here depends on your business strategy and goals.
Real world events are affecting you.
A Zika scare in your area can bring lots of traffic to your post on the Zika virus. When the news cycle brings something else up instead, readers move on. Sometimes this has nothing to do with your customers. We saw this with the keyword “vampire babies” once at our lab site. Vampire babies have never been a big part of our business strategy.
Sometimes — especially when we’re talking about news cycles — traffic jumps and falls don’t matter that much. If you’re making decisions in your business that lead to benefits of other kinds, rather than the maximum traffic you can possibly get, don’t worry.
You’ve made changes in your tactics.
We see a rise in traffic at our website when we’re speaking at conferences and WordCamps. Did you send out a major email blast last quarter, invest heavily in print ads, or work hard on social media… and then stop?
Did you — gasp — stop blogging?
When we get busy in our businesses, it’s easy to feel like we just missed a couple of newsletters or maybe slacked off a little in our social media, when we’ve actually quit taking the actions that brought in those clients and customers. In truth, this is one of the reasons growing businesses experience the feast or famine roller coaster. If you changed your tactics intentionally and see a drop in website traffic, that can be useful information telling you to change back.
If you just got too busy to keep up, though, you may need help from a company like Haden Interactive. Contact us for help.