Why did my site traffic drop?

Diagnose ranking and impression drops for your site

Why did your page or site suffer a drop in impressions, clicks, or position on Google Search? Follow this troubleshooting guide (you'll need to be a user or owner of the site in Search Console).

Top reasons for drops

Here are the most common reasons for drops in impressions, clicks, and position on Google Search:

#1: Your property definition doesn't match your site's URL in Search Console

Does your Search Console property definition match your site URL? That is, if your site is http://example.com, is your Search Console property defined as http://example.com or https://example.com? Mixing up http and https is probably the most common reason for "missing" search traffic; your traffic might not have dropped, you might just be looking at the wrong Search Console property.

#2: Google hasn't crawled (or recrawled) your site yet

You posted your page, or fixed it, and requested a (re)crawl very recently, but Google hasn't crawled it yet. Many people expect Google to index or re-index a page instantly. In fact, it can take a week or more to recrawl a site, based on many factors. You can see your site's crawl history in the Crawl stats report.

If you've submitted a sitemap or requested a URL crawl, please be patient. If you have posted a page on your site without telling us about it, it might take us even longer to find the page, so you should request a crawl.

#3: Your site is missing, affected by a manual action, or removed

  1. Confirm whether your site is available in Google Search: search Google for pages on your site using a search like this (replace www.example.com with your site's homepage URL): site:www.example.com
  2. If your site is missing:
  3. If you have a manual action or security issue, fix them as described in the appropriate report.
  4. See if someone has filed a successful URL removal request on your site. If so, you'll have to cancel or dispute the request to appear in search again.

#4: You recently moved your site

  • Did you change your host name (for example, from www.example.com to www.newexample.com)?
  • Did you move existing pages to new URLs on the same site (for example, example.com/mypage to example.com/anotherpage)?
  • Did you move from http to https?

If any of these are true, read the troubleshooting section for site moves.

#5: Seasonal drops

Much web traffic has seasonal and even weekly spikes and dips. People search for gifts before a holiday season, or vacation sites before the summer holidays. When that period has passed, traffic for those searches goes down. Does your site have seasonally related content? See Drop in impressions and CTR.

If none of these reasons apply:

Continue with the rest of this troubleshooting guide.

Next steps

1. See which pages are affected

Remember, this is about tracking your traffic from Google Search, not your total user traffic, which includes visits from other sources.

Site or page?

See if your drop affects one page, a few pages, or if it's site-wide.

  1. Open the Performance report and click Pages.
  2. Find the dip in your chart, and locate the approximate start and end dates of the drop.
  3. Click the date filter, and modify it to restrict the time period from the start to the end of the drop.
  4. In the date filter, click the Compare tab, and filter against a previous period. The Custom choice chooses the identical timespan preceding the chosen period, and can be a good choice.
  5. Click Save to save the new date and comparison choices.

Your results will be scoped to the dip, and you'll see a comparison to the previous period. Look for rows in the table with a large difference in clicks or impressions.

If most pages on your site are equally affected, this is a site-wide issue.

  • Did your site experience availability issues to Google? Check your index coverage.
  • Was your site affected by one of the common reasons listed above?
  • Did your site disappear from Search during that period?

If only a few pages on your site are responsible for most of the drop, think about why that happened. Possible reasons:

Look for patterns

View your search traffic by query, country, and device to see if your drop is limited to a specific category. Check for the following patterns:

 

Periodic drop
See if you can detect a pattern to your drop over a weekly, monthly, or yearly span. If you see a pattern, think how it might be related to the content on your site. For example, if you sell ice cream you will probably see an annual fluctuation in search traffic. Be sure that if your site has services for all seasons (for example, if you sell both ice cream and hot chocolate) that your site emphasizes all services.
Drop in CTR without a matching drop in impressions

If users are seeing your site but not clicking through, the most likely cause is that other search results are more compelling than yours. This could be because the other sites have more meaningful titles, snippets, or search features, or that other sites could be considered more reliable or authoritative by users.

  1. Do some site searches to learn what other results are appearing. Are these results more useful? More informative? Do they have a special search feature that might be appealing?
  2. Read about improving your titles and snippets and implementing rich results.
Drop in impressions and CTR

If your site has a general drop in both impressions and CTR, here are some things to investigate:

  • Is your site mobile-friendly? See how many queries are from mobile devices, and look at the Mobile Usability report for your site or run the Mobile-Friendly test on specific pages. Compare your mobile and desktop impressions separately in the Performance report by adding a filter to compare desktop vs mobile.
  • Has your search position dropped below the fold? It's not easy to determine whether a position is past the first "page" of results, but look for a position change that corresponds to your impression drop. If you see a position change, see Drop in position.
  • Is your page showing for the queries that you expect? In the Performance report, look at your queries and see how your impressions change over time; if impressions are dropping,
    • See if your site is being indexed correctly. If Google isn't finding your pages, or if they are dropping from the index, they won't appear for those queries.
    • See if someone else is performing better for those queries. Do an incognito search for those queries to see the results in Google Search. Do pages that rank higher than yours have more, better, or newer content?
  • Is your site targeting the wrong language or locale? Check for hreflang errors, or country-specific targeting that might have  caused a drop in your impressions or clicks.
  • Is your page canonical? Only a canonical page will appear in search results. If Google has selected another page as canonical, it will not appear in search results. If impressions have dropped for a specific page, use the URL inspection tool to see if that page is canonical and whether it can be crawled. If the canonical page is in a property that you don't own, you won't be able to see the traffic, or even the canonical URL.

Occasionally we see bad actors on the web who copy large portions of an existing website onto their own site in order to draw traffic. If you see a site that has copied your content, you can file a removal request. If someone has filed a bogus takedown request on your site after copying its content, you can file a counter-claim.

Drop in position

In general, you should not focus too much on your absolute position, or even small fluctuations in position. Impressions, clicks and total visitor count are, in the end, the ultimate measure of success for your site. However, if you do see a dramatic, persistent drop in position, you can try to address it. Drops in position are often caused by one of the following reasons:

  • Another site has improved their quality or relevance more than yours. Perform some search queries in incognito mode, see which sites are performing better than yours, and try to determine why that is so: are the other results more useful, complete, or up-to-date than yours?
  • Your site has content that has become stale, incorrect, or less useful than it used to be. Try to keep your site accurate, useful, and up to date.
  • Google is having problems finding or reading your site. This will be seen as an increase in indexing errors in the Index Coverage report. If you recently made changes to your site, give us a few weeks to update our index. You can follow our progress in the Index Coverage report.
  • You used to qualify for search appearance features (which generally have a higher position) but no longer do so. Examine your site's rich result reports and AMP report to ensure that you haven't introduced any new errors.
  • Your site's mobile usability has decreased, making the site less useful for mobile visitors.
  • There has been a drop in the number or quality of sites that link to you. You can see who is linking to your site here.
  • There was a change to our ranking or reporting algorithms. See if a change is mentioned in the Webmaster Central blog and our data anomalies page; otherwise, follow best practices in the Webmaster Guidelines and Google search quality rater guidelines.

Check your traffic data and see if your drop is tied to a specific factor (query, page, country, or device). If so, try to determine the root cause.

Read our quality guidelines to learn what we value in a website.

Follow the recommendations in the SEO starter guide, particularly the recommendations on optimizing your content.

AMP impression/click/position drop

AMP ranking and CTR drops can occur if you are not getting a rich result for your AMP results. Confirm that your AMP pages are being indexed, and that they are eligible for rich results.

For a site-wide perspective, open the AMP report for your site, and look for an increase in errors, which are non-indexable pages.

  1. Drill down to a few URLs and debug the problems.
  2. If you have included structured data on your AMP pages to enable them to be shown as a rich result, test your pages using the Rich Results test. Enter the URL of your live page rather than copying your page code into the tool.

To test an individual page, run the URL inspection tool on your AMP URL, and test the page using the Rich Results test.

2. Check your index coverage

If Google can't find and index your site, all your numbers will drop, so start by checking your site coverage in the Google index:

  1. Open the Index Coverage report for your site.
  2. Toggle the report to show valid pages, and look at the chart for any drops in indexed pages. If so, toggle the report to show indexing errors, warnings, and excluded URLs. Look for spikes that correspond to your indexing drops and drill into the details. You should find clues that explain why pages that were once indexed can no longer be indexed, and the documentation for the error should explain how to fix the issue. Here are the most common root causes:
    If you have found and fixed indexing issues, request validation of your fixes. Validation and re-indexing can take a week or two, so check your traffic again in a few weeks to see if it has recovered.
  3. If indexing errors don't seem to be an issue, continue to the next step, checking your search traffic numbers.

More information

Read our blog page on traffic drops for more tips.

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