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MyTrafficDropped.com

Helping webmasters diagnose website traffic issues.

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Diagnosing Traffic Drops – Quiz

Has your Google traffic dropped? Not sure if you have been affected by Panda, Penguin, An Unnatural Links warning or something else? This quiz may be able to help you decide why your website traffic dropped.

Note! This quiz has only 8 questions but can take some time as we will be digging into your analytics data. Do not use the back button…you can go back to the previous question by using the buttons on the quiz.

Question 1 – Disclaimer

I understand that this quiz is for information purposes only. I understand that a quiz cannot take the place of an SEO Professional when diagnosing reasons for traffic to drop.

Yes, I understand…start the quiz!

Show me how I can contact a professional (results will open in a new window)

Question 2

Look for warnings in your Webmaster Tools

Take the following steps to determine whether you have any warnings in your Google Webmaster Tools:

  • Click this link to open a new tab and log in to your Webmaster Tools Console: www.google.com/webmasters/tools
  • Once you have logged in, click on All Messages in the left hand column.
  • Do you have any warnings in your list of messages? And if so, do you have a yellow caution sign next to that warning?

I do not have a webmaster tools account set up.
I do not have any messages in my webmaster tools account.
I have a message in my webmaster tools, but there is no yellow warning caution sign next to it.
I have a warning about unnatural links, and yes, there is a yellow caution sign next to the warning.
I have a warning in my webmaster tools. It has a yellow caution sign but does not say anything about unnatural links.
Other

Question 3

Now let’s look at your organic search traffic:

Take a look at your analytics data. We have included below, complete instructions on how to do this in Google Analytics, but if you use another analytics program, or your website’s logs, that will work too. (If you don’t have any analytics installed, you can indicate that in the quiz answers below.)

Instructions for looking for traffic drops in Google Analytics

Take the following steps to look for traffic drops in your Google Analytics.

  • Click this link (will open in a new tab) to log in to your Google Analytics: www.google.com/analytics/
  • In the upper right corner, select a date range that is wide enough to see your possible traffic drop. In most cases, selecting April 1 to the current date should be sufficient:
    choose analytics date
  • Now, let’s look at just the organic search traffic for this site. In the left column, select Traffic Sources, then Sources, then Search, then Organic.
  • See organic search traffic

Based on the information from your analytics, choose the answer that best describes your site’s organic traffic.

*IMPORTANT* – Read all of the options before making your selection:

There is an obvious traffic drop that happened on or immediately following one of these dates:

February 23, 2011 April 11, 2011 May 9, 2011 June 21, 2011 September 28, 2012
July 23, 2011 August 12, 2011 September 28, 2011 November 18, 2011 November 5, 2012
January 18, 2012 February 27, 2012 March 23, 2012 June 8, 2012 November 21, 2012 December 21, 2012 January 22, 2013
June 25, 2012 July 24, 2012 August 20, 2012 September 18, 2012 December 21, 2012

There is an obvious traffic drop immediately following one of these dates: April 19,2012, April 27,2012
There is an obvious traffic drop immediately following one of these dates: April 24,2012, May 25,2012, October 5, 2012
There is a traffic drop sometime between April 19/2012 and April 27/2012 but it is hard to tell exactly what day it is on.
There is an obvious traffic drop on a day that was not listed above.
There is a gradual decline in traffic that can’t be pinpointed to a particular day.
It is hard to pinpoint whether or not my traffic is declining.
I do not have analytics installed and can’t answer this question.
Skip this question.

Question 4

Duplicate content check.

Let’s do some tests to see how unique your site is. Perform the following tests on:

  • Your home page
  • 2-3 inner pages. (If you feel that there are certain pages that are not performing well, then choose those pages.)
Now do this to check for duplicate content:
  • Copy the first two sentences of text from the page.
  • Go to Google (opens in a new tab), and paste your text in the search engine box.
  • Put quotes at the start and the end of the phrase.
  • Hit enter to search.

Here’s an example:

Duplicate Content Search

What did you find?

All of my pages are completely unique.
Some of my content is duplicated on other pages on my own site.
The Google results showed me other pages that had content the same as mine. My website was not the original source for this content. (In other words, you were not the creator of this content, but got it from someone else).
The Google results showed me other pages that had similar content to mine, yet I placed that content there. (For example, a directory listing or a Youtube profile).
The Google results showed me other pages that have stolen content from me.
Skip this question.

Question 5

Does your website have “thin content”?

Here are some examples of thin content

  • A page that consists mostly of images and have very little text outside of the image.
  • A page that has only a few sentences of unique content.
  • A page that contains only fragments of sentences. An example would be a product page that has an image followed by the words, “Helpful kitchen appliance. Comes in blue and green.
How would you describe your site when it comes to thin content?

I have very little thin content on my site.
I may have the occasional page with thin content.
I have a lot of pages on my site that could be considered thin content.
Skip this question.


Question 6

Ads above the fold.

Google has suggested that having too many ads above the fold (i.e. visible without scrolling) can be a measure of site quality.

How would you describe your site in regards to ads?

All (or almost all) of my pages have a good amount of original content above the fold rather than ads.
It’s debatable. I have ads above the fold but also some content above the fold.
I have some pages on my site that contain significantly more ads than content above the fold.
I have a lot of pages on my site that contain significantly more ads than content above the fold.
Skip this question.


Question 7

The next few questions will deal with your site’s backlink quality.

Let’s have a look at your website’s backlinks in the Open Site Explorer. (Opens in a new tab)

Enter your site’s url into the OSE and then click on “Anchor Text”:

Open Site Explorer Anchor Text

When you look at your links, ordered by anchor text, what do you see?

My site’s most popular anchor text is my url.
My site’s most popular anchor text is my brand. However, my brand is also a keyword that I am trying to rank for. For example, if your site name was www.joesgarage.com and your most popular anchor text was “Joe’s garage”, Google would probably consider this a brand link. But, what if your url was www.mechanicinseattle.com and your top anchor text was “Mechanic in Seattle”? This may not be considered a brand link by Google but rather, a keyword anchored link.
My site’s most popular anchor text is my brand and it would definitely not be considered a keyword (see above answer choice for explanation.)
My site’s most popular anchor text is a keyword that I am trying to rank for.
Other / Skip this question.


Question 8

Are your links unnatural?

Sometimes it is difficult for a webmaster to determine whether the links pointing to his or her site are unnatural or not. Take a look at the following examples of links and then tell us whether or not you have links like this pointing to your site. Try to be brutally honest with yourself here!

  • Comments left on blogs that link back to your site using a keyword as anchor text. Here is an example:
    Comment spam
  • Links from directories that were created primarily for the SEO benefit and not for the traffic that would come from that directory.
  • Links from an article that was written primarily to create a link back to your site and contains anchor text that you are trying to rank for.
  • A large amount of recipricol links. (i.e. You link to me and I’ll link to you.)
  • Links that were placed in the footer of a website and contain the anchor text for a keyword you wish to rank for. (Examples include WordPress themes or Web Design clients who put links back to their company in their clients’ footers):
    Anchor text in footer

  • Paid links containing anchor text that you are trying to rank for.
Does your site’s backlink profile contain links like these?

The majority of the links on my site are like this.
More than half of my links are like this.
Some of my links are like this, but most of my links have been earned and not created by me (or an SEO).
I have no links like this (or almost none like this).


You’ve received a warning in your webmaster tools that has a yellow caution sign next to it.

In many cases, this can explain what your traffic problem is and how to deal with it. For example, if you have a warning of malware you will need to fix that up in order to solve your problem.

What would you like to do now?


Before we go on to the next question…

You have a decline in traffic, but can’t pinpoint it to a particular date. Let’s see if we can determine if there is a drop in traffic for a particular keyword:

  • Go back to your Google analytics data that we analyzed earlier.
  • We have isolated the graph to organic search traffic. (Again, in the left column, click on Traffic Sources, Sources, Search, then Organic.)
  • Under “keywords” you will see a list of search terms for your site.
  • Click on each of these search terms and look at the graph that is produced. Note: If you feel that your traffic has dropped for a particular search term then look at these terms first.
When you look at the graph for each individual keyword are there any keywords that show an obvious traffic drop?

Yes, there are one or more keywords with an obvious traffic drop that occurs on or immediately following April 24, 2012 or May 25, 2012
Yes, there are one or more keywords with an obvious traffic drop on some other date.
I can’t find an obvious date for my traffic drop.

Quiz Results

We have compiled the following report for your website, based on your quiz answers:

Webmaster Tools – Manual Warnings

You mentioned that you do not have Google Webmaster Tools set up for your website. It is highly recommended that you do set up Webmaster Tools. In many cases, Google can alert you to reasons why your website does not rank, whether it is because of malware found on your site, a penalty due to unnatural links or a variety of other possibilities.

If you set up Webmaster Tools now, you may possibly have a message pop up within the next few days. However, often the warnings of unnatural links are only sent out in batches. If you were previously sent a warning, you may not get another one until Google sends out another batch.

You mentioned that you have no warnings in your Webmaster Tools. This means that there is no manual warning for unnatural links. It also means that there is no point in filing a reconsideration request to try and resolve your traffic drop. These requests will only be helpful for people who have had a manual warning.

You have a warning in your webmaster tools, but there is no yellow caution symbol next to it. These warnings usually are not connected to a traffic drop. If you received a message of unnatural links pointing to your site in July of 2012 and there is no yellow caution sign next to the warning, in most cases you can totally ignore the warning. These warnings were part of a confusing batch of warnings that were sent out by Google. They later changed the warning to say the following:

“If you received a message yesterday about unnatural links to your site, don’t panic. In the past, these messages were sent when we took action on a site as a whole. Yesterday, we took another step towards more transparency and began sending messages when we distrust some individual links to a site. While it’s possible for this to indicate potential spammy activity by the site, it can also have innocent reasons. For example, we may take this kind of targeted action to distrust hacked links pointing to an innocent site. The innocent site will get the message as we move towards more transparency, but it’s not necessarily something that you automatically need to worry about.”

So how do you interpret this? If your traffic dropped happened within a few days to weeks following getting this message, then there is a possibility that your traffic drop is indeed because of a manual unnatural links warning. However, if the traffic drop happened at another time then there is probably something else going on.

You have received a warning of unnatural links in your Webmaster Tools. This is a manual warning and is very likely the cause of your traffic drop. It’s not a bad idea to read the rest of this report to see other areas where your website could improve. However, if you have this warning, you will never make a recovery without dealing with it first. Full instructions on how to fix this problem are located on our page about Unnatural Links.

You mentioned that there is a warning in your Webmaster Tools and that warning did not mention anything about links. If there is a yellow caution symbol next to the warning then there is a good chance that this warning is connected to your traffic drop. If you are unsure of how to resolve this warning it may be worthwhile to hire an SEO Professional.

No concerns relating to your Google Webmaster Tools were found.

Additional Reading: The Complete Guide to Google Unnatural Links Warnings.

Panda Issues?

The date of your traffic drop is coincidental with the date of a known Panda update.

The date of your traffic drop is coincidental with the date of a known Panda update. However, it is important to know that the Panda Updates that happened on April 19, 2012 and April 27, 2012 were very close to the introduction of Penguin on April 24, 2012.

You have mentioned that your website’s traffic dropped sometime between April 19th and April 27th of 2012. This time period is difficult to judge because there were Panda updates on both of those dates, and in between those dates, on April 24, 2012 there was the initial Penguin rollout. We need to look at both as a possibility for your traffic drop.

We have not identified a traffic drop that coincides with the date of a known Panda rollout. It is still worthwhile to address potential Panda issues, especially if the exact date of your drop is not known.

We have identified the following issues with your website that may be connected to a Panda problem:

According to your quiz answers we have not found any issues with your website that could be contributing to a Panda problem.

  • You mentioned that some of your content is duplicated within your own website. This can be seen by Google as a sign of poor quality. In our guide to Panda (see below) you will see ways to deal with this.
  • You mentioned that some of your content is duplicated on other sites and that you are not the original creator of this content. In order to recover from Panda it is important to get rid of all such duplicate content on your site. You may need to rewrite the content, noindex it or completely get rid of it altogether. You can find more details in our guide to Panda (see below).
  • You mentioned that you have content that appears on other sites, but that you were responsible for putting that content on other sites. (Examples include directory listings and Youtube profiles.) Google will see that as duplicate content and can penalize your site for that. The answer here is to change the wording either in all of the external listings, or on your website so that they are not the same.
  • You mentioned that there is duplicate content on the web that was stolen from your website. Situations like this are difficult! In some cases, Google can recognize that you are the original owner of this content. But, sometimes they cannot. One option you have is to file a DMCA Takedown Request to ask Google to remove the duplicate content from the other site. Another option is to email the other site and ask for them to remove the content.
     
    If you have no other Panda issues, it is debatable whether this is a real concern for you. If you are not certain, you may want to consider hiring an SEO Professional to help you decide if you have a Panda issue because someone is stealing your content.
  • You have some content on your site that could be considered “thin”. This can be a Panda trigger and Google can potentially penalize either the sections of your site that have thin content, or potentially your whole website. The fix for this is in our Panda guide (see below).
  • You have identified that a good amount of your site content is “thin”. This is an important fact that can definitely cause Google to penalize either the sections of your site with thin content, or potentially your whole website. The fix for this is in our Panda guide (see below).
  • You have some ads above the fold, and some content above the fold. Most SEOs believe that this is not a huge issue. But, if you believe that you have a Panda issue, it may be worthwhile to try to get more content visible to the viewer.
  • You have some pages on your site that have more ads than content above the fold. If your website has been affected by Panda, then it is possible that increasing the amount of content visible above the fold may be beneficial.
  • You have a lot of pages on your site that have more ads than content above the fold. There is a good chance that this is a factor for Google when deciding whether to apply a Panda filter to a site. If your website has been affected by Panda, then it is quite possible that increasing the amount of content visible above the fold may be beneficial.

Additional Reading: The Complete Guide to the Google Panda Update.

Penguin Issues?

The date of your traffic drop is coincidental with the date of a known Penguin update.

Although the date of your traffic drop is coincidental with a Panda update, it is very close to the Penguin rollout of April 24, 2012. It is worthwhile to look at Penguin factors.

Your traffic dropped some time between April 19th and April 27th of 2012. Although those dates are dates of known Panda refreshes, the initial Penguin rollout happened on April 24, 2012. It is worthwhile to look at Penguin factors.

Although your traffic drop does not coincide with a known Penguin update, it is worthwhile to look at Penguin factors. Some SEO’s believe that a site can be affected by Penguin at any time (especially just following a new linkbuilding campaign). However, recovery can only happen when there is a Penguin refresh.

We have identified the following issues with your website that may be connected to a Penguin problem:

According to your quiz answers we have not found any issues with your website that could be contributing to a Penguin problem.

  • You have mentioned that the majority of your links are your brand, but that it is possible that your brand could be considered a keyword for which you are trying to rank. If Google thinks that you are trying to manipulate the search results by using keywords as anchor text, then this can definitely cause the Penguin algorithm to affect your site. The Penguin Guide explains more (see below).
  • You have mentioned that the majority of your links are anchored with a keyword for which you are trying to rank. If Google thinks that you are trying to manipulate the search results by using keywords as anchor text, then this can definitely cause the Penguin algorithm to affect your site. The Penguin Guide explains more (see below).
  • You may have a serious issue with the quality of links that point to your website. These days, in the eyes of Google, a link is considered unnatural if it is one that is self made. The majority of links from blog comments, directories, self written articles, paid links, and widespread reciprocal links are the exact type of links that can cause a website to be affected by the Penguin algorithm. This is even more likely if the links were made using anchor text that contains a keyword that you are trying to rank for. To read more about how to recover from this issue, see the Penguin Guide (see link below).
  • You may have an issue with the quality of links that point to your website. These days, in the eyes of Google, a link is considered unnatural if it is one that is self made. The majority of links from blog comments, directories, self written articles, paid links, and widespread reciprocal links are the exact type of links that can cause a website to be affected by the Penguin algorithm. This is even more likely if the links were made using anchor text that contains a keyword that you are trying to rank for. While these links do not make up your entire link profile, they may be enough to cause you to be affected by Penguin. To read more about how to recover from this issue, see the Penguin Guide (see link below).
  • You have a traffic drop that is specific to one or more keywords. This is often a sign of being affected by Penguin. Often, the traffic drop will affect keywords that you have been trying to rank for by building anchor texted links. Some SEOs believe that a site can be affected by Penguin on any day, not just following a known Penguin update. However, recovery can only happen after a refresh of the Penguin algorithm.

Additional Reading: The Complete Guide to the Google Penguin Update.

Other Reasons

We have outlined some possible reasons above as to why your site may have suffered a traffic drop. However, it is always a good idea to look for reasons that are not connected to a Google Penalty or algorithm change. Sometimes the reason for a traffic drop can be because of something simple like accidental no-indexing, a problem with robots.txt or a slew of other possibilities. It is highly recommended that you read our article on other reasons for traffic drops before taking any action:

According to your quiz answers, we have not found any reasons for your site’s traffic drop that could be connected to a Google Penalty or algorithm change. (Remember, though, that this is just a quiz and doesn’t take the place of a thorough evaluation of your site by an SEO professional.) Sometimes the reason for a traffic drop can be because of something simple like accidental no-indexing, a problem with robots.txt or a slew of other possibilities. It is highly recommended that you read our article on other reasons for traffic drops before taking any action:

Additional Reading: The Complete Guide to Other Reasons for Your Traffic to Drop.

Did you find this quiz helpful? We would greatly appreciate a tweet!