February 08 2024


What to Do When Your Traffic Metrics Decline, But Your Rankings Stay Steady 

Traffic and Ranking Metrics Going in Opposite Directions? 

Have you ever seen your website traffic dip despite your top keywords consistently ranking high? This drop, even when small, can be frustrating—while your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy is paying off, your traffic isn’t reflecting that success. What should you do in this instance?  

The first thing to remember is that a robust traffic metric may seem great, but it does not reflect lead success. To really make sure traffic is an issue, digital marketers should narrow in on traffic metrics in terms of quality, not quantity, and make sure that traffic received is relevant.  

Once you begin looking at traffic from a quality lens and still see a ranking/traffic discrepancy, you’ll want to look at the potential causes to revise your strategy. This blog looks at the common causes of these disparities and provides tips and tricks using analytics tools to help you find the underlying cause of your traffic and rankings. 

Common Causes of Declining Traffic/High Rankings 

First of all, you are not alone on this. Many marketers are seeing this fluctuation due to changes in the landscapes of both Google and Bing. Over the past couple of years, both search giants have added features like shopping ads, rich results, and recently, AI-generated search results. All these shiny new things populating SERPs mean organic results are being pushed further down the scroll, which can affect clicks.  

The need for an integrated approach has never been more important. Having SEO and PPC working together helps get results higher up the scroll via paid while allowing your business a second showing further down via organic. Multiple showings on a SERP add credibility to a business. However, businesses now need to go further by populating newer features for three or more appearances in SERP results.  

Other common factors that may cause this discrepancy include changes in competition, seasonality, and outside factors such as economics. Once you use the steps below to paint a clearer picture of these effects with your data, you can start improving your SEO and PPC strategy—let’s get started. 

Step 1: Investigating in Google Analytics 4 and Keyword Rankings 

Begin by evaluating your traffic and finding the landing pages trending down in Google Analytics 4. You’ll want to focus on the pages meant to drive leads. Also, take note of the keywords on each of those downward-trending pages. 

You’ll want to rule out the following factors that naturally cause traffic decline before proceeding to the next steps: 

  • Was there a decrease in the paid budget? 
  • Is the keyword or page no longer relevant to the SERP? 
  • Was there an algorithm update that caused a shift in the landscape or a change in top-ranking sites? 
  • Is this targeting a broad keyword or SERP (where there is a lot of competition) or an intent-based keyword? 

An example for that last bullet point, if you lose traffic for “custom springs” (a broad term) but are driving traffic for “Inconel torsion spring”—you are successfully targeting Customer intent. Once you’ve gathered the landing pages of concern and their keywords, it’s time to check their rankings to see if they are increasing, consistent, or declining in a keyword ranking tool.  

The TopSpot Team uses a few keyword tools for a deeper dive into what’s performing and how it compares to your top competitors. These types of tools can be used to help you better understand changes in the layout of the SERP down to pixel measurement. 

While you check these tools (and especially for those without a specialized keyword tool), we recommend also looking at the live landscape during your investigation to compare that data with what users see live. If you see that the pages with decreased traffic are stable or even improving rankings, it’s time to dig a little deeper.  

 Look at your rankings from the following angles:   

  • Does the content of your result (imagery and copy) match up with user intent? 
  • Have the top sites in the landscape changed from a competitor standpoint? How do your results compare? 
  • What rich results and SERP features are present on the page?  

Looking at the landscape reveals competition and rich results to consider. 

Knowing what pages are trending down and what their landscapes look like, the next step is to give these results some context:  

  • Does the dip have something to do with seasonality?  
  • Based on your industry expertise, do you think this traffic decline is permanent or cyclical?  
  • In the time span reviewed, are you considering historical shifts like market shifts and issues like the supply chain?  
  • Are you differentiating yourself from other businesses? 

To help answer these questions, move into Google Trends to review the Search Terms (keywords or search queries) and the Topics (entities that may encompass multiple search terms). This tool will open your understanding of what users are searching for and locate missed keyword opportunities. For example, look at keywords in the industries your company serves to ensure you are touting your capabilities in trending spaces.  

Looking at trends affecting a manufacturer targeting agriculture capabilities. 

Your integrated strategy is never set in stone, and adjustments are periodically needed. When things like agriculture trend down due to economic or seasonal factors, look for other areas trending up, like renewable energy or defense. Your leads will reveal these trends too and form information could include inquiries that highlight new business opportunities from markets that should be featured on your website. 

Step 3: Now that You’ve Identified Causes, Search for Solutions 

With culprits in hand and the data to back up decisions, it’s time to revisit your keyword and content strategy to create solutions to implement and track. When revising, look at methodologies like B-SMART, which focuses on a user’s intent and trusts that a quality lead knows what to search for (avoiding broader terms). It ensures your business has the best possible placement in intent-based landscapes relevant to your products and services using an integrated approach. Also, consider the user experience once you populate their intent to encourage clicks.   

While addressing traffic slides, the answer is not to raise the metric with any traffic. The goal is to bring in quality traffic to yield quality leads. TopSpot’s goal for Clients is to do everything within our power to ensure they show up consistently in the landscapes that matter. 

Here are a few other things to consider implementing once your SEO and PPC strategy is adjusted:  

  • Social media impacts search demand and operates similarly to search engines thanks to algorithms pulling in content users are interested in automatically into feeds. Think of hashtags as keywords—they allow people to search for posts or follow topics they are interested in. You can find tips on LinkedIn here.  
  • Be sure to tie in your tradeshow appearances and other offline activity with your search efforts so that all your marketing aligns. This alignment will aid in driving things like tradeshow booth visits as well as branded searches post-event.  

With some time and research, you can find answers to why your traffic is declining despite strong rankings, then implement solutions to start improving your traffic and conversions. Contact your TopSpot Team for help, or if new to TopSpot, contact us for insight into your traffic and rankings. 

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