What Happened to My Site Traffic?

Long gone are the days when I would log into statistics interfaces every hour (and more) to see how many visitors my sites had and how much money I’d made by result.

And I’d be lying if I told you that I check them faithfully even once a week nowadays.

I didn’t realize how complacent I’d become in that regard until a friend mentioned that her traffic had suddenly tanked from one day to the next and that she suspected it had something to do with it being an affiliate site.

After our chat, I decided to check Google Analytics and look at the statistics from my own affiliate sites.

I was stunned by what I saw on the Google Analytics homepage… one of the sites had a very large numeral circled in red with a descending arrow in front of it… -54.59%.

My heart dropped when I saw this graph on the Dashboard for that site.

Google Analytics shows huge traffic drop

ZERO visitors for over a week?

Now I could have rushed to some very bad assumptions about the immediate future – thinking that this traffic wipeout was going to be a big hurt in financial terms, or about all the work I’d have to do to bring it back to life, or worse, trying to negotiate with the folks at Google to re-instate the site and its rankings.

But the numbers just didn’t make any sense.

I knew the site must have had some traffic because comments were being placed on the posts on a daily basis.

And although Analytics indicated the site’s status as Receiving Data, it just didn’t seem right.

What had I done? What changes had I made? And then it occurred to me that I’d upgraded the theme to StudioPress Genesis little over a week before.

Sure enough, when I checked the theme settings (and Genesis Hooks), I saw that I hadn’t placed the Google Analytics code in the new header. (Google indicated that the status was OK, because it was reading the code from some old HTML pages that are still on the server.)

So, quick as a bunny installed the code and by the next day I saw that the traffic statistics were indicating normally.

Actually, they were better than before, because instead of ignoring the site, I published a couple of posts in the meantime and saw about a 25% spike in my average daily traffic.

Moral of the story?

Don’t get all stressed out by what seems to be a catastrophic event… in most cases the problem has an easier solution than what you might expect. :-)

Comments

  1. says

    I’ve made that mistake before. Talk about a heart racing moment at first, followed by sheer relief.

    I pay attention about weekly to my stats too. I look a bit more if I’m checking for something specific, but for the most part obsessing doesn’t help.

  2. says

    I did something similar with WordPress Multi Site when I network deactivated the google analytics plugin I use, thinking that this would leave it enabled on those sites that were using it but not force enabled for the future sites, only to find a week later that I had no traffic on a site.

    King of assumptions I wondered if it had been sandboxed, but no… it was my schoolboy error!

    • says

      Hi Ros. Thanks for this post! At first I gulped – thinking, “Uh oh, what’s google doing now?” But so glad you clarified that it was a simple mistake. By the way, you mentioned that you thought it was tanked because it was an affiliate site. Let me ask you, are affiliate sites being penalized in the sense that if I make mini niche sites and direct them to affiliate links? Obviously we are making sites to make money, so why does Google have a hard time with that? Also, how can I create a really good site that provides great info, uses keywords that people would use to buy products, utilize affiliate links, and still not look like an affiliate site to google?

      I have to correct 3 of my sites already and I’m not sure what google wants from me. Each site has excellent original content.

  3. says

    Yeah that would make my heart sink too. After Google’s Panda update who knows what’s in store next. I am glad everything is back to normal. Lesson to all do not freak out lol! Good post Rosalind

  4. says

    Omgh – Glad it was just something like this. Of that was caused by the Panda update by mistake – i guess it would have been Bad to get the site back

  5. says

    Ha! This happened to me last year when I changed over to Genesis on an site that had been on Thesis for a year. I thought CPR would be necessary. I don’t have time for the hospital :-)

  6. says

    Your tips help me keep up on stuff. I’m a realtor who knows more about SEO than 95% of other realtors…but that isn’t saying much. I’m just dipping my toes into review sites and I don’t even remember if I put Google Analytics on them…duhh.
    Thanks for the reminder.

  7. says

    Hi Roz,

    Sorry that happened to you. Glad you found the solution and took care of it. I have never had that problem, but I don’t a large amount of visitors to my site. I need to do some posting as I know that helps to get a higher google ranking, but I have been busy writing some linux guides and tutorials.

    I wish you the best,

    Bill

  8. David says

    I had something similar happen to one of my sites about a 6 weeks ago. Turned out – Google’s auto-suggestions changed and my keyword term went from being the first 3-word term in the list to not even auto-completing as you typed out the full phrase! My traffic went from 100+ organic visitors/day to almost zero. If your site ranks for a top suggestion phrase – and they change their suggestions (or remove your phrase) then that too will make your “heart drop”. Glad your site didn’t take a hit!

  9. says

    How timely! I experienced this exact scenario yesterday and have been mulling theories in my head. You just solved my problem! It’s serendipitous, and one of the smartest things I have done is subscribe to your free newsletter. Thank you.

  10. says

    Yikes! I can imagine what a bad moment that was. My husband just change the theme on a few of our sites. I’m going to make sure he didn’t make the same mistake. thank you for sharing, Arlie Jarels

  11. says

    Well, since I’m having some issues right now, maybe I’ll just stay calm a couple days.

    or—-maybe not–

    Thanks any way Ros,
    Sandy

  12. says

    You know Rosalind I really felt for you and I even thought oh no what happened to her traffic? Do you know why? Because you being such an established and successful affiliate having your stats dropping like that is a rather frightening concept to someone just starting out and TRYING to get traffic. This story was as good as a cliffhanger movie. Glad it all worked out. Now newbies can breathe a sigh of relief :)

  13. WRHUMP (Wm) Humphreys says

    What Happened to My Site Traffic?
    Is a very eye opening I have dealt with Word Press many times some good and some bad. Just a quit point
    not all widgets work and some cause problems in your browser. To think there is something else besides Word Press is a eye opener and to Thank- Mrs. Gardner for bring this to light I would like to say
    the one thing I would enjoy even more is how do you add Google Analytics code in the header.

    Bill
    wrhump

  14. says

    Hi Rosalind, What a great post about not freaking out. I’ve been reading your posts for the last 1-2 months.

    Also, I check my GA every day but only occasionally check bluehost’s analytics…always VERY different.

    Jasmine

  15. L.M. says

    I use the AWSTATS stats from my cPanel through my hosting account at HostGator. I know that people use Google Analytics for even more detailed stats,l but if in doubt, check your cPanel and see what your traffic numbers show there.

  16. says

    I did this a few weeks back over a keyword ranking for a keyword that I had been working very hard for. My ranking seemed to drop off of google completely one day and I panicked that I was going to lose a very important keyword for my site. I had read a similar story with the lesson being not to panic, so I sat back and waited a few days to see what would happen. Sure enough the keyword came back after a few days to it’s rightful spot and all was well with the world again. ;)

  17. says

    Checking traffic statistic is very obsessional especially if you are a newbie but if you want to know where you are getting traffic from is very important and healthy. From my own experience i would encourage to check traffic statistic a weekly basis. Thanks

  18. says

    I hoped when I saw your solution that this would help me too. Alas, it seems my analytics code is still in place yet I have two sites that are in the red for visitation and I can’t work out why. One I can probably understand a litte (new business blog with only a few articles) but the other is well populated and has all affiliate links (6) on a single Recommended page. Could these be hurting me?

    Besides this I don’t know what the problem is and will have to keep searching.

  19. Marian says

    I’m glad it ended up like that! :) I like GA but I also use Statpress, free WP plugin to get some quick traffic overview…

    Take care Rosalind and keep up the great work! :)

  20. Ferris says

    One of my website got the same mistake without any change … at the begining 0 visit (instead 15-20K/day) .. after 1 week, analytics show me1/5 of my real traffic .. and 6 month after analytics show me the real traffic.
    I’ve use an another tools during this analytics blackout.. (no change of my website before and after blackout.. so strange)

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