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How To Diagnose Visitor Drops Using Google Analytics and Google Search Console

Discussion in 'White Hat SEO' started by Zwielicht, Mar 27, 2016.

  1. Zwielicht

    Zwielicht Moderator Staff Member Moderator Jr. VIP

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    So one morning you wake up and decide to check the analytics data of all of your sites from the past week. Everything seems normal on the 1st site, the 2nd site is doing good, the 3rd site... Oi!
    [​IMG]
    All right, so you've got a bit of a problem here, but don't panic. Your first inclination might be to think, "Aww man, (insert animal algorithm update here) got me! Damn that Google, they're always trying to keep the little man down", however it's best to not jump to conclusions, otherwise you'll spend more time trying to fix something that's not broken rather than fixing something that is broken.

    Before We Begin
    Tools You'll Need:
    • Google Analytics
    • Google Search Console
    • Any Rank Tracking software you're comfortable using (optional)
    • Any Link analysis/tracking software your'e comfortable using (optional)
    Tips To Keep In Mind

    Find Out What Type Of Traffic You Lost

    This is important as you don't want to go through the effort of searching through your Google Search Console data only to find out it was your social media traffic that dropped. To do this, go into your Google Analytics account, select the property you're concerned about, click on "Acquisition", click on "All Traffic", and then select "Source/Medium". Make sure you set the date range to the last week, and then compare it to the week before that (or to a time when your traffic was "normal".
    [​IMG]
    Now, what you're looking for here is the source of traffic that has fewer sessions than before, which will be represented by a negative percentage of sessions. Once you find out which source lost traffic, you can then move on to properly diagnosing the issue.
    Diagnosing Organic Traffic Drops
    Consider That You've Been Outranked
    This shouldn't surprise you. Rankings change, sites change, Google changes. If you were receiving most of your traffic from 1 or 2 keywords or keyword sets and you've been pushed to the second page, you can use the Search Analytics tool in Google Search Console or your own rank tracking software to figure this out. Another option is to just look at the SERPs for your keyword, but this can become cumbersome if you rank for keyword sets.

    Check For Manual Actions In Google Search Console
    To check your manual actions, go to your Search Console property, click on "Search Traffic", and then select "Manual Actions".

    Now, based on several threads from members I've helped here on BHW, sometimes these manual actions won't appear in your Google Search Cosnole account for days or even weeks after they've been applied. However, if you've managed to rule out everything else, then it's best to wait a week or 2 to see if any of the manual actions below appear.
    https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/2604824?hl=en
    Rule Out Negative SEO
    Go to the "Links To Your Site" page of your Google Search Console property and analyse the links (you can also use your own link tracking/analysis software for this). If there are any unusual links (e.g., links from spam sites) or you see that there's a sudden surge in links, you'l have your answer.

    Also, if you see a sudden surge in the number of indexed pages that you didn't create, consider that your site has been hacked.

    Diagnosing Direct Traffic Drops
    This one is a bit tougher than than diagnosing the other traffic sources. The only thing I can really say is to consider if you've made any changes to your update schedule or to your website that would cause users to stop coming back to your site, but this only applies to sites that receive returning visitors through direct traffic.

    There are also other causes of direct traffic drops in Google Analytics as Google will label any traffic in the list below as direct:
    Source: https://www.optimizesmart.com/google-analytics-wrong-why/

    Diagnosing Social Media Traffic Drops
    Find Out Which Social Media Network You've Lost Traffic On
    This one is easy. Just go to your Google Analytics account and click on the Social Overview page.
    [​IMG]
    From there, you're going to want to do what we did when we were going over how to determine the type of traffic you lost. That is, you're going to want to compare the current week to the last week before your traffic dropped.

    Determine The Cause Of The Issue
    This could be because you recently switched to a different advertising method that rendered your campaign ineffective, or because you forgot to continue running your campaign. In other cases, you may have had a popular article that was shared on social media for a while, but for one reason or another, the popularity of that article died down.

    Diagnosing Other Traffic Drops

    Filter Out Referrer Spam
    If your Google Analytics account is showing that you were receiving a large volume of sessions and for several weeks in a row and then it suddenly drops off back to what you were receiving before the spike in traffic, make sure you weren't receiving referrer spam in Google Analytics. I have several articles on one of my sites about referrer spam from a year ago as well as instructions on how to filter out referrer spam.

    The first code is used in Google Analytics to fitler out referrer spam while the second code was used in your htacess file. Both of them contain outdated referrer spam sites that probably don't even spam any more.
    Code:
    guardlink.org|semalt.semalt.com|4webmasters.org|free-share-buttons.com|social-buttons.com|best-seo-offer.com|buy-cheap-online.info|get-free-traffic-now.com|event-tracking.com|trafficmonetize.org|webmonetizer.net|dailyrank.net|floating-share-buttons.com|site1.floating-share-buttons.com|site2.floating-share-buttons.com|site3.floating-share-buttons.com|site4.floating-share-buttons.com|site5.floating-share-buttons.com|site6.floating-share-buttons.com|site7.floating-share-buttons.com|site8.floating-share-buttons.com|site9.floating-share-buttons.com|site10.floating-share-buttons.com
    
    Code:
    RewriteEngine on
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*semalt\.com [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*Darodar\.com [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*Priceg\.com [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*7makemoneyonline\.com [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*Buttons-for-website\.com [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*Ilovevitaly\.com [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*Blackhatworth\.com [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*Econom\.co [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*Iskalko\.ru [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*Lomb\.co [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*Lombia\.co [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*hulfingtonpost\.com [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*cenoval\.ru [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*o\-o\-6\-o\-o\.com [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*humanorightswatch\.org [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*simple\-share\-buttons\.com [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*sharebutton\.org [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*s\.click\.aliexpress\.com [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*social\-buttons\.com [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*anticrawler\.org [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*site12\.social\-buttons\.com [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*adcash\.com [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*adviceforum\.info [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*anticrawler\.org [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*blackhatworth\.com [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*cenokos\.ru [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*cityadspix\.com [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*edakgfvwql\.ru [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*gobongo\.info [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*iskalko\.ru [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*kambasoft\.com [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*luxup\.ru [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*myftpupload\.com [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*prodvigator\.ua [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*resellerclub\.com [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*savetubevideo\.com [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*screentoolkit\.com [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*seoexperimenty\.ru [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*slftsdybbg\.ru [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*socialseet\.ru [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*superiends\.org [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*vodkoved\.ru [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*websocial\.me [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*ykecwqlixx\.ru [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*76brighton\.co\.uk [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*paparazzistudios\.com\.au [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*powitania\.** [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*sharebutton\.net [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*tasteidea\.com [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*descargar\-musica\-gratis\.net [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*torontoplumbinggroup\.com [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*cyprusbuyproperties\.com [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*4webmasters\.org [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*ranksonic\.org [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*best\-seo\-solution\.com [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*get\-free\-traffic\-now\.com [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*googlsucks\.com [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*Buttons\-for\-your\-website\.com [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*Best\-seo\-offer\.com [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*offers\.bycontext\.com [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*www1\.social\-buttons\.com [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*website\-errors\-scanner\.com [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*free\-share\-buttons\.com [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*theguardlan\.com [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*buy\-cheap\-online\.info [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*netvibes\.com [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*guardlink\.org [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*securesuite\.co\.uk [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*securesuite\.net [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*sitevaluation\.org [NC,OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https?:\/\/([^.]+\.)*forum20\.smailik\.org [NC] RewriteRule .* - [F]
    
    Conclusion
    I wanted to create this guide for those of you who can't seem to figure out why you've lost visitors to your website. Instead of posting a thread on Black Hat World asking someone to diagnose the issue for you, it's now possible for you to do it yourself. After all, you have your website's data.
     
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    Last edited: Mar 27, 2016