A Drop in Organic Traffic Might Not Be Your Fault

Less Traffic

Whether it was a client’s site, a company’s site, or even my own blog, I’ve experience good and bad months in terms of organic traffic. There are many reasons why I might get less traffic. The two main factors are a Google Penalty or a loss in KW rankings to a competitor.


When I looked at my own site, I did not see either of those things. However, I did get into Google’s Answer Box recently, so that had to be the reason for less traffic, right?


If you are interested in that, I wrote about how I got into Google’s Answer box a few weeks ago.


Here is a snapshot of the organic traffic for my site.


Less Traffic


Search Console Data


I decided to break out my main traffic page to see why there was less traffic in the month of July.


Better Rankings, but Less Clicks


Keyword Rankings


Going from an average of 7.1 to 7.7 for me is a misleading metric. I have some keywords that went from mid 30’s to 40’s, so this is just an aggregate ranking in Google’s Search Console. Instead, I am going to break down the top 10 keywords that have actually driven in traffic to this page and see what has happened with their rank.


For the top 10 keywords for this page, I saw nine terms actually improve.


Keyword Ranking Improvements for TM Blast


Click Through Rate


So the rankings got better, so I looked over at the click through rate. I am seeing 6 out of the top 10 actually have an improvement. In fact, 4 out of the top 5 saw an increase in the click through rate.


Click Through Rate Change




So the rankings got better, but I received less impressions during this time


Impressions Higher in Previous Period




I am seeing better rankings, some improvement in general with the click through rate, and less impressions for these keywords. All of that equals less clicks. What a let down!


More Clicks From the Previous Period


How about that Google Answer Box?


How does the Google Answer Box play into this you might ask? Surely I am seeing a drop in all of the clicks because that answer box is taking away traffic. However, I only have one term in the answer box. I decided to highlight that term in this post below to make a point. In fact, I am getting a better click through rate to my site because of that answer box in Google.


Only Term in Google's Answer Box


Google’s Answer Box Search Result


Google's Answer Box Greg Kristan TM Blast




First, I want to break down something called seasonality. We are in the month of July here in Boston, MA. I know for myself, I am trying to get out of the office as much as possible. I am spending a lot of my free time at the beach or doing anything else that is away from my computer. Judging by these impression numbers above, I could make the argument that people just want to be away from their computer’s and phones right now.


There was no keyword drops in Google, there was no penalty from Google, and there was no mistake of me blocking Google bot from accessing my site. When you look at everything like the click through rate and rankings, but notice a drop in impressions, you could make the case for seasonality decline. Since that search term does not have enough data in Google Trends, I need to rely on my own data to make that call.


My second point I want to make is about Google’s Answer Box. I think a lot of people instantly blame that box for ruining their organic traffic. I do think the answer box can take away traffic from some search queries. Here are some examples of those queries.


Perfect Answer Box

Another Good Answer Box

As a user, I don’t need to go to their site because the steps are right there and easy for me to follow.


When I tried to get into the answer box, I really made sure to add a lot of written content to the steps to prevent that from happening. If I could get a (…) after some of my steps, I would force the user to see what the steps actually were.


This in my opinion is why I have gotten a higher click through rate after getting into the answer box. People can see the steps, but they actually need to go to the site to full read the steps.


All in all, you can’t control when people search. You can have a fully optimized campaign, but you can still get less traffic to your site during these seasonal times. Instead of just looking at keyword rankings or monthly traffic, I would recommend focusing on historical data if you have it and get ready for your busy time!