5 Tools to help you identify an organic search traffic drop

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Find out whether your website (or someone else’s) has been affected by a Google algorithm update or penalty using these five tools.

Whether you are an SEO, a business owner, or a blogger, there will be a time when you notice your organic traffic decline or even drop.

Not all traffic declines mean that you have been slapped by Google or that you have done anything wrong. But for peace of mind, being able to quickly check whether your site is being penalized by Google is surely helpful.

Here are a few ways to check to ensure your site has not been penalized or affected by Google’s update:

1. Google Search Console

As a website owner, one of the best things you can do is to monitor your website’s health in Google search is to verify your site in Google Search Console. If you already use Google Analytics, it’s a quick process – simply sign in with your Google account, add your website to Google Search Console, and use your Google Analytics code to verify site ownership.

There are several other options to verify site ownership as well that don’t involve adding new code to your website, including signing in to one of over 40 domain name providers. Once you’ve done this, you will receive notifications from Google if your website has been dinged in search results. These include:

  • Malware Notifications: If Google suspects your website has been hacked or infected by malware, they will tag your site in search results as compromised. This will significantly lower the number of visitors you receive from search results. Once you have cleaned your website, you can request Google review it through Google Search Console again to remove the message in search results.
  • Manual Action Penalty Notifications: If Google suspects your website has unnatural links, user-generated spam, cloaking, or other items against Google Webmaster rules, you may receive manual penalty that negatively affects your ranking in search. Once you have cleaned your website, you can request Google review it through Google Search Console to lift the penalty.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console

Aside from these notifications, you can also check for crawl errors and other issues that might affect how your website is displayed in search results. With regular monitoring of your website in Google Search Console, you can ensure it has the best health in Google possible.

2. Google Analytics

Google Search Console unfortunately does not notify you of all penalties and algorithmic changes that might affect your website in search results. Another way to check if there might be a problem is through your Google Analytics.

In particular, keep an eye on changes to your organic search traffic by looking under

Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels > Organic Search

Click through to the “Landing Page” tab to see if the traffic loss is sitewide or if there are a few particular pages struggling.

Google Analytics
Google Analytics

Additionally, consider doing a quick year over year comparison of your organic search traffic to be able to spot a slow decline.

This can be a good indicator if you have a problem. If you do notice a decline in organic search traffic, first think about any changes you made to your website around the time the traffic decline occurs. If you happened to redesign your website, you might not have properly redirected pages that were ranking well, or you might have left out some important keyword-optimized title tags on your top ranking pages.

Keeping this in mind, consider annotating any of your on-site work (or even known updates) inside Google Analytics to be able to correlate traffic decline with those.

3. Moz's Algorithm Change History

In order to see if a major Google algorithm change is the culprit of your traffic drop, use Moz’s handy Google Algorithm Change History to match up a drop in organic search traffic with a particular update.

Moz Algorithm Change History

You can filter it by year to see everything that was confirmed to have happened around your traffic change. You can also set to see only confirmed or unconfirmed updates.

4. Google Penalty Checker

Looking for an easier way to spot potential Google algorithm changes and penalties that might have affected your website? Then try Fruition’s Google Penalty Checker Tool by Fruition. This tool connects to your Google Analytics and is free for up to two websites with unlimited traffic. You can also pay for a monthly subscription of $48 to check up to five websites or get custom pricing for unlimited website monitoring.

Once you’ve connected your websites, Google Penalty Checker will analyze your data against Google’s algorithm changes and updates to see which ones have affected your website in a positive or negative way. You’ll see a quick chart showing the latest updates and how they have affected your site.

You’ll then get a list by date of penalties, whether you’ve been affected, and a link to more details about the particular update.

Google Penalty Checker

This tool can help take out the guessing about when your traffic dropped and whether a penalty might have been involved as well as point you in the right direction of how to start solving the problem.

5. SEMrush

Let’s say that you want to check whether another website has been affected by a Google algorithm or penalty. You may want to do this to qualify a particular link building opportunity or convince a potential client that they need some help with their SEO. One tool to use is SEMrush. It will show a graph of most website’s organic search engine traffic over a period of the last 30 days, year, two years, or all time.

semrush
SEMrush

This is a quick way to see approximately how much organic search traffic a website is receiving. If you notice a sharp drop in search traffic, you can try to match it up to Moz’s Google Algorithm Change History to see if a particular algorithm or penalty has hit them. You can also use this to determine if a website has recovered from a Google slap or is still suffering the consequences.

In Conclusion

As you can see, there are several helpful tools that can help you identify Google algorithm and penalty issues in both your websites and others’. If you are not sure why your organic traffic is declining or where to go from there, consider our SEO services.

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