When you see a sudden drop in traffic, it's easy to go straight into panic mode. Instead, let the data be your guide! Follow these simple steps for insights into your traffic trends.
1. Be sure your analytics implementation is all good.
If Google Analytics isn't installed on your site properly, it's going to skew your traffic numbers. There are a few ways to check your implementation - first, you need to know how your analytics is installed. It might be inserted through a header/footer plugin.
If you use Trellis, analytics can be found in Appearance > Mediavine Trellis > Advanced.
Make sure to check that your Analytics tag isn't being delayed or lazy-loaded by any optimization plugin. This can cause underreporting as well.
2. Choose the date range you are concerned about.
Once you are sure nothing has changed or is off about your analytics implementation, look at the drop you are concerned about. Is it just yesterday? The whole last week? A month?
3. Now compare to the previous date range.
For example: You noticed a traffic drop yesterday. Set the date range in Google Analytics to isolate JUST yesterday. Then use the compare function to compare it to the day before. THEN we have to take it a step further...
4. Compare to the same day of the week last week, OR the same previous time frame, with the days of the week lined up.
Matching up the days of the week is important because reader trends vary based on weekdays. Sundays look different from Mondays, etc.
5. Compare it to the same day(s) last month.
NOT necessarily the same date! For example, if we are looking at a drop on Friday, April 1, we'd want to compare to Friday, March 4.
6. Note any holidays or events that might have impacted traffic.
We all expect the Q4 holidays to impact traffic, but don't discount the effect of others throughout the year: Superbowl Sunday, St. Patrick's Day, Mother's Day, etc.
7. Now that you have a good idea about all the surrounding circumstances, look for the differences.
If Tuesday is lower than Monday, was Tuesday also lower than Monday last week? Last month? Was it a post that dropped off? Or an actual drop in traffic sources?
Once you figure out what the actual change in traffic is, you can decide how to fix it.