There are many people who are trained in the arts of Search Engine Optimisation, but a lot of people start flapping when it comes to problem solving an account. We have all been there, we spend a long time marketing a website, building up the content and visitors slowly over time, and in one fowl swoop you see a bulk of your traffic disappear for one reason or another. Time to hit the panic button? No, not just yet. Some of the answers could be very simple and you may be overlooking the obvious solution.

Firstly, if you know you have gone within the Google guidelines then you need to create a checklist and cross them off one at a time.

Check your robots.txt

Your websites robots.txt file may be blocking search engine robots from accessing vital files such as your CSS stylesheets and other files, therefore Google are unable to process your website properly. If Google cannot see your CSS files then it will not be able to see if your website is mobile friendly or not, therefore you may lose a little bit of ground with mobile search queries.

Robots.txt File Blocking CSS Files

Check for any crawl errors

In Google Webmaster Tools you can check for crawling errors. It may be something that has updated on your website, or a plugin that you have uploaded. I often play about with site speed and some plugins I have used have interfered with the Javascript on a website, therefore my Google Analytics script was not tracking properly. Crawl errors will tell you of any 404 errors on your website. I recently had a client that had lost 30% of her visitors to her ecommerce store and I had found out through Webmaster Tools that she had accidently changed a permalink of one of her heavily hit landing pages. The simple solution was to 301 redirect the new URL to the old one and change back the permalink.

Webmaster Tools Crawl Error

Check your backlinks

It may be possible that you have lost a highly relevant backlink pointing to your website. You can use backlink checking tools such as that will show you any lost backlinks. Just one lost backlink can result in a heavy loss of visitors, so do not underestimate the power of them. Keep checking regularly for lost backlinks so you can find a replacement.

Ahrefs Backlink Checking Tools

Have you been hacked?

I have seen numerous websites that have been hacked. What usually happens is the hackers upload files into your website hosting account that creates pages that point to affiliate products. They then proceed to build in bulk a lot of spammy backlinks. Google are normally quite lenient when it comes to hacked websites but sometimes it can cause problems, especially if they mix in building spammy backlinks to your homepage, however that is not as common.

Hacked Website SEO

Have you migrated recently to a new server?

So, you have a .com domain and you have migrated to GoDaddy from a UK host? If so then how does Google know which country to send you visitors from? Unless you set your international targeting to UK then it is possible you will not be sent UK visitors. Basically you are on a US IP address and a .com is a global domain. It would be much wiser to be on a domain and a UK based hosting company.

Checking for duplicate content

As mentioned in a previous post about duplicate content you very well need to check that your content is safe. Content theft exists and there are a lot of scraper sites that linger in the dark corners of the search engines, so you need to somehow keep your content safe and keep regularly checking Copyscape to see if this has happened to you.

Copyscape Interface

Are you on shared hosting?

A lot of people do not realise this but you probably share your server with hundreds of other websites, and it may be possible that one of these websites is slowing down your server. If this happens then it slows down the performance of the entire server and all websites on it will be effected. If somebody is trying to load your website from a slower 3G network and your server is running slow then that person will give up and move onto another website. A common problem with a shared server are high amounts of spam mails outgoing from the mailserver.

Hosting Server - Who Shares Your Server?

See who you share your server with

Are you overoptimising your backlinks?

There are many people that are still stuck in the historical era of search engine marketing and are still building low quality backlinks with keywords as anchor text, simply because they do not know any other way. If you are hiring somebody cheap just to save a bit of money then that is exactly the service you will receive, a cheap one, and that cheap service will end up costing you more in the long run. Overoptimisation is an archiles heel in SEO and if you overoptimise a keyword you will see your website going to wrong way, and one thing that is harder than building backlinks? Getting them removed.

Overoptimised Keywords

Title and meta descriptions are too long

Quite a while ago Google started to rewrite your title and meta descriptions in Google and there are only a certain amount of characters that you can use. A title or description is too long will be rewritten by Google that can effect the click through rate % of your listing. Remember, your description ends up being the snippet in your listing when somebody types in a search query related to your website, therefore it is imperative that you make it stand out with a good call-to-action.


I will be revisiting this page at some point and if I think of any more I will post it here 🙂