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12 Possible Causes of a Failing Website

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Posted on June 13th, 2018 by James Cummings in Guest Posts

Failing Website

For any company with an online presence, website traffic is important. The more visitors you attract, the more opportunities you’ll have to advertise your brand, establish relationships and ultimately sell your service or product. This is why a sudden drop in search engine traffic is a frightening prospect, since it ultimately leads to business losses and lower revenue.

Whether it is a technical problem, a recent website change, an update of the Google algorithm or poor optimization, there are many possible reasons why your website traffic has decreased.

Subsequently, we have put together a brief overview of what to look for when trying to determine the cause of an unexpected fall in search traffic.

1. Recent Changes to the Website

In addition to being able to detect the obvious inconvenience of hosting, check any recent changes. Design changes often have an impact on loading times, which does not look good on search engines. Also, use Google Analytics to see if all traffic sources are decreasing or if it is just a specific source. Last but not least, be sure to check the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). If you're not already, start regularly monitoring SERPs.

2. The Website Code

One of the most recent causes of falling traffic is said to be a change or problem with the site code. According to hosting experts from, analytics add-ons or changes to the website code can often cause problems with the tracking code and cause discrepancies in the analysis reports. They advise that it's important to always look at the tracking code - after which, you can try solving problems elsewhere.

3. Trends Over Time

When analyzing traffic in client applications (web / native), evaluate trends over time for full traffic and related segments. Understanding periodic trends / economic cycles through traffic is essential to understand if the fall is normal. Once a baseline has been established, assess unusual alterations and separate the problem by analyzing the cause and effect.

4. Simple Technical Issues

Use the tools available publicly to locate any technical issues: Google Mobile-Friendly Test, Google Analytics, WebSitePulse Speed Test Tool, Google Search Console, Ahrefs etc. First, adjust the simple things such as 404 errors, long page load times, missing / incorrect SEO items etc. Then, switch to more complex problems like performance optimization, A / B testing, user experience (UX), thermal mapping etc.

5. Information Architecture

Is the site properly structured? How effective is your internal linking strategy? Are you creating herds of orphan pages simply for the sake of blogs? Have any recent design changes been made that significantly increased the rebound rate and the number of people stuck on the search results?

6. Server Overload

Server Loading

Web servers can easily be overloaded and should be one of the first things analyzed when a website fails. It is very common when a website can’t meet the demand of its visitors. So, it is essential to optimize the website and prepare for high traffic peaks to avoid downtime.

7. Meta Information

Meta-information entails Google extracting keyword information from your website to classify it. First, check if someone has accidentally deleted their meta-information (this happens a lot). If the meta-setting is intact, consult Google Analytics to see if the drop comes from organic, paid or social. Subsequently, check your AdWords campaign if it’s from paid. If it's organic however, check your SSL, sitemap.xml, robots.txt file, etc. (Ref: Qode Social, Kelly Samuel).

8. Global Traffic

While there are many reasons - from server problems to traffic sources and even something as simple as an interrupted tracking - I suggest you check the geographic distribution of traffic. Today, most applications and websites draw global traffic. For content owners who attract traffic from emerging markets, government blocking or censorship can cause gradual or sudden declines, depending on how sophisticated they are in IP detection. (Ref: Baglan Rhymes, Anchorfree Inc).

9. Domain Structure, DNS or NS

Firstly, check if Google has posted updates to your algorithm. If there were no major Google updates, I'd start by looking at a technical checklist to see if any changes were made to the domain, the DNS (Domain Name Server) or NS (Name Server) structure that could be the cause. Remember, a good domain name is vital; therefore, hiring a reputable hosting provider will guarantee you a good domain name.

10. Google Search Console

This is basically like looking beneath the bonnet of a vehicle. If the car doesn’t start, the bonnet opens, just as if you were looking at Google Search Console when there are negative or positive peaks in traffic performance. Within Search Console, you can detect any harmful issues (for example, if your site has been compromised), HTML trends or problems that affect site traffic.

11. Google Panda or Penguin Update

In recent years, Google has made several computed updates of its algorithm (called Panda and Penguin) in order to improve the overall quality of search results. Panda examines the quality of content and disciplines sites with low quality content. Meanwhile, Penguin analyses the quality of links and disciplines websites that don’t feature natural links. Either or all of these could be reasons for a reduction in traffic.

12. Traffic Source

If your organic traffic suddenly decreases, there are likely to be some SEO problems you're dealing with. Either your website has been updated and search engines do not index it the same way as before, or a search engine has changed the way you index your website. If your paid traffic has been reduced, but expenses have remained unchanged, this means your ads aren’t as efficient as before.

James Cummings is a top online marketing analyst, brand expert and business psychologist. James has wide experience at senior managerial level and has helped deliver staffing solutions to some global brands. He has interfaced at board level with FTSE 100 companies and successfully managed multiple web projects across different niches to their full cycle. To see more, visit:

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