Today's video is about what to do when your (or your clients') search engine traffic is decreasing. The first thing to do is understand the difference between a penalty and a simple algorithm change. If you see about 10-20% decrease in search engine traffic, that is probably just the effects of recent algorithm updates.


Hello, welcome to our video on what to do when your Google traffic decreasing. I'm Chad Hill, and I have Adam Stetzer with me, as well.

Hey, good afternoon, Chad. That's a big one. It's probably one of the top five questions in SEO. Oh boy, my Google traffic dropping. I'm losing organic searches coming to my website. A lot of people rely on this very heavily for their business. They made a big investment in search engine optimization. So I want to try to tackle this for our viewers today.

So first off, don't panic, right? But to be more constructive, if you see google traffic decreasing, what do you do? What should the first set of processes be here?

I think the thing you have to first do is understand the difference between a penalty and just an algorithm change. We usually say that if your google traffic dropping by 50% or more, you're probably in a penalty zone. And in that case, you really want to-- there's some other things we'll probably direct you towards.

But most people that are seeing a 10% or a 20% of google traffic decreasing, that's more likely just the most recent updates that have happened with Google's new Penguin updates, other things they're putting out all the time. So the first thing you do is you need to make that determination. Is this a penalty, or is it just a change?

Right, excellent point. And if it is a real penalty-- more than 50% search engine traffic dropping-- yeah, maybe then a little bit of panic might be appropriate. But that isn't what we see with our client base, so I guess we would just direct them to other resources. I know if you look for how to reverse a penalty or how to get out of a penalty, you'll find resources from SEO Moz, from Webmaster Tools, from Matt Cutts directly.

I mean, the overall thinking is actually, if you've got a lot of google traffic decreasing-- 50% 80%, or 100% of your traffic is gone. that is actually very hard to recover from. So luckily, I don't ever talk to people in that circumstance. So let's really narrow this down to the folks that we do talk to, which is no, I've not been penalized clearly.

I used to be super happy with my traffic, and now it's sagging. It's come down 10%, 20%, or even 30%. So as you said, Chad, that's not a penalty.

So let's help them understand what is that. And it's obviously disappointing. But what should the right reaction be? Again, it should not be to panic, in my opinion, but let's help them through that.

Right. Well, most websites have-- you've been doing SEO. Most websites have been around for a while, and there's been a number of different things that you've done for your SEO. Maybe this started back four, five, six years ago with submitting your website to directories, and doing other tactics that, as the algorithms have changed, some of those tactics that were supporting the rankings have started to no longer become effective.

So it's not that what you're doing today is-- probably if you're doing the right things today, it's not that stuff. That's actually seeing the small sag in your traffic. It's that some of the stuff you did years ago is maybe no longer counting. Maybe the websites aren't there anymore, and that's most likely what's happening.

Yeah, that's really interesting. If you think about analogies that may help our viewers understand how to feel better about a search engine traffic dropping, it's kind of like the stock market, right? You're following along a stock, and it's generally growing. But they'll be some weird event or some quarter where it gets whacked by 20%, 30%, maybe 40%, based on some odd news cycle, or something weird the CFO did.

But it means that the underlying structure of the company is still sound, but you're going to have a down quarter. I think that analogy probably holds up pretty good with SEO, because I guess the best way to think about it is a certain amount irrationality or noise that you're just going to encounter, because nobody truly knows the Google algorithm-- and they, of course, want to keep it that way-- and you're out there trying all sorts of things all at the same time, so it's not particularly scientific. You're not really sure what's working or what's not.

So I think probably one of the best analogies I come up with is you can't watch a stock day to day, live and die with every move. You'll go crazy You have to be thinking about a year over year-- is this a good investment for me? Is it generally going in the right direction? Every now and then, yeah, you're going to take a whack, and it's not going to feel good. But you know, over the year over year view, it comes out in your favor.

Right, and I think one of the things we talked about is still SEO the best-- we've not seen any data that would say otherwise-- but it's the best return on investment from online marketing. So you don't want to, just because you see a small decrease, say that now's the time to jettison this strong ROI program that's been working for me for years and years. It really means that you just need to pay attention to, what are the tactics that are going to work today?

And one of the things we talk about is real SEO. You want to make sure that you're doing-- that you're basically building content, earning links back to your website, focusing both on the end customer and what they're interested in, and not only thinking about what the search engine wants. Certainly, they're an audience. You want to make sure you tune your content-- the right title tags and descriptions. But if anything, these most recently Penguin updates just continue to demonstrate that you can't be overly focused on just SEO and doing what Google wants. You need to think about what your end customer wants, and that's going to pay off with an even higher return on investment because you're doing something the customer wants.

Yeah, it's excellent. And again, just to keep working with the Wall Street stock analogy, smart investors know that 30% irrational cut in a stock means it just went on sale. And they actually buy more, even if it means they just have a 30% loss on the book they already have.

I think what you're saying, Chad, extends this analogy. It means you might want to invest more or double-down on SEO. Do it smartly, though.

Do real SEO tactics. Be diversified. Be building that portfolio to then rebuild out of the loss you may have just had from google traffic decreasing, and then off into the future with gains for years to come.