May 30, 2024

You’ve noticed a drop in organic traffic, but you don’t know why or what you should do. You may have seen a sudden drop in traffic or a gradual decline over the past few years. How can you tell what’s causing the biggest problems with so many Google updates and changes in the industry?

Even if you think you understand the reason for the SEO issues, you can dig deeper to uncover more specific reasons why a particular domain is being negatively ranked.

Recently, we worked with a website whose webmaster thought that the Medic update was the main cause of its loss. We discovered, however, that the HTTPS update had been the first to hit the site, and then the PageSpeed update in July 2018. The updates resulted in a drop in rankings (and corresponding losses in Organic traffic), which was compounded by a number of negative algorithmic factors. By the time we were brought in to fix the problem, the site had lost almost 80% YoY.

How can you perform algorithmic analysis on a typical website?

First, you need to know when there have been large changes in traffic or rankings. SEMRush’s historical database is a good choice for our team, as it goes back a long way (2012-2013, I believe, is the most accurate). The “All Time,” “2 Year,” and “3-Year” views make it easy to spot long-term trends. You may find that a recent drop is a sign of a problem now.

In November 2016, Google deployed its “Mobile First” index┬ábut then reversed it at the start of 2017. You may be penalized by Google for algorithmic reasons if you experienced a drop in traffic around March 2018 after the full release of the mobile index.

Example 1: First Mobile Update November 2016

The decline in organic rankings is correlated with Google’s “Mobile First” testing, where Google dramatically reduced desktop indexable ranking either by shifting them over to the mobile index or dropping them entirely if they were not deemed friendly. Google now considers your mobile site to be the “canonical version” of your domain. Your desktop rankings will also be affected by this. This update is “mobile First,” not “mobile Only.” Many industry experts believed that the change was intended to separate the rankings by device type rather than correlating orders across all devices.

Second Mobile Index Released March 2018

The Organic ranking of the site has declined significantly, even though the website seemed to have recovered from its previous drop in November 2016 when the Mobile First Index was officially released.

Similarly, those who experienced ranking drops in July 2018 and have serious page speed issues can assume that improving page speed will have a positive effect on rankings, especially for mobile.

Example 4: Florida, PageSpeed Update and Medic

The site experienced a partial recovery after the Florida update.

Understanding algorithm updates and the importance of technical SEO

In the last two years, technical SEO has been a major factor in organic rankings. Even small changes like the June 2019 update have a big impact.

It’s simple to compare the dates of ranking/traffic declines with the Moz history resource.

If you want to put this into practice, if you are analyzing how to build a recovery strategy from the┬áMedical update, you could review all the ranking keywords that you had at the beginning of summer 2018 and identify the types of sites ranking now. You may notice some common features among the top-ranking sites, such as author profiles, editorial policy pages, and “reviewed by” citations from medical experts. This can help you reform your site so that it starts to move upwards and to the left (towards organic growth).

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