Experiencing an SEO Drop? Check Our 10 min. Audit Framework

by | Jan 5, 2015

10 min audit for SEO drop
7 min read

This our quick hack to check if a site’s SEO traffic has been affected by something nasty. Take a deep breath, today is not doomsday. Approaching the problem in a rational fashion is the best way to identify and fix the issue that may have risen. Going through the following steps should take an experience web marketer no longer than 10 min:
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[gdlr_tab icon=”icon-flag” title=”Check Google or Bing Webmaster Tools” ]
Most obvious place to look for any SEO issue.

  • Check messages
  • Check Index Rate
  • Check Sitemap
  • Check Manual Penalty
  • Check Search Queries
    • Remember GWT reports impressions and clicks with a delay of 2 days
    • We recommend filtering out your brand name to get a more accurate result
    • Use the numbers with caution. Sites with large traffic only receive a sample

[gdlr_tab icon=”icon-flag” title=”Check Analytics” ]
Select advanced segment non-paid search. We recommend using 1 search engine at a time for a more granular approach. Here is Google Organic, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, Yandex

  • Is your analytics code still working? Check it using CheckMyAnalytics or GAChecker. Such a basic, yet common issue
  • Channel traffic analysis
    • SEO vs the rest
    • SEO vs Referal
    • SEO w/out the homepage – removing the homepage can help identify a more obvious drop
  • Check number of SEO landing pages
    1. Go to Acquisition
    2. Select Organic
    3. Just above the table pick source
    4. Select Search Engine
    5. Change Main Metric to “Landing Page”
    6. Do a WoW or DoD comparison for the drop in traffic to specific landing page
  • Check Annotations If you and your team are using Annotation

[gdlr_tab icon=”icon-flag” title=”Check Rankings” ]
Most obvious place to look for

  • Go to Google/Bing Webmaster Tools and look for ranking position change
    • Remember GWT reports impressions and clicks with a delay of 2 days
    • Chose a narrow set of date closer to today to have a more accurate ranking position
  • Go to SEMrush – Any significant drop in traffic
  • If you have a weekly or daily keyword ranking analysis tool, go and check your reports.
  • If not, it might be time to invest in the like of Moz, Raventools, AWR or MySEOTool. Have a bigger site, we highly recommend SEOClarity
  • Log in to your Adwords Account and check your most popular keywords using the ads preview tool
  • Do spot checks on other popular keywords using the mozbar set for non-personalised results in your location


[gdlr_tab icon=”icon-flag” title=”Check Algorithm update” ]
The moment of truth. If you are still not sure what happen, time to check have a look at the following tools to see if your traffic drop correspond to the exact days of an algorithm update. 

Note: with any large algorithm update, you are likely to see some fluctuations in your rankings. This is what we call “Fresh Algorithm Recalibration”, whereby new result order need to be reassessed by Google with live user behaviour. This recalibration generally last for 3-5 days after the update.
[gdlr_tab icon=”icon-gears” title=”Check IT changes” ]
Ok so this is not an algo update, sight of relief, things might still be under control. Time to check with the master of the domain. Don’t forget to ask for Being nice and providing directions has always helped me dig into tricky issues.

  • Has IT released any code a few days leading to the drop? check New relic, your git repository, your deployment schedule on JIRA or other
  • Ask them directly. If they are not sure, use the info you gathered in previous steps to help them get a better idea of where the issue lies
  • Webmaster special: have we dropped any parked/redirecting domain? Have we switched off a server? A common issue with large organisations with hundred of old/expired sites. Check our post on the impact of expired domain on SEO

If you found the issue thanks to the IT team, make sure you repay the kudos in one way or another (beer and pizzas, night out, positive email to the company/senior management). Those guys are your best allies to get stuff done especially on a large/complex site. 

[gdlr_tab icon=”icon-gears” title=”Check Crawl” ]
This is a more advanced work but certainly worth having a look at if all other checks have failed. This function is a very effective tool to anticipate any SEO drop on larger sites. We highly recommend you check out our botstudy project for more details on this service. 

  • Obtain logs from servers (ask IT, go to your Cpanel or Content Deliver Network logs)
  • Filter only the right users agents from search engines: Google, Bing, Yandex, Baidu, Naver (in Korean)
  • Analyse crawl pattern across selected date range
  • Identify frequency, pages visited, outliers, session timing (if available)


Still not fixed? We may be able to help. We have dealt with over 120 cases of SEO drop analysis from small 10page to 10Mln pages and found a way to fix the issue. Get a callback today
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