How to analyse traffic drops with Ebere Jonathan

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In this week's episode, Jack Chambers-Ward is joined by Ebere Jonathan to discuss how to analyse traffic drops.

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Jack: Welcome to Episode 85 of Season 2 of the Search with Candour podcast. I am your host, Jack Chambers Ward, and joining me this week is the fantastic freelance SEO consultant, Ebere Jonathan, all the way from Nigeria. Ebere and I are going to be diving into a topic that I'm sure plenty of you are familiar with, but hopefully we can give you some advice and some tips about how to identify and recover from traffic drops for your clients and your websites. We're going to go through what tools to use, how to identify them, what things to look for, and the ways to recover from traffic drops and potential causes and all that kind of stuff. So stay tuned for that. It's a really, really interesting conversation with Ebere this week.

Before I get to my conversation with Ebere, I'd like to say a huge thank you to SISTRIX who have sponsored this episode of Search With Candour and continue to sponsor us all the way through Season 2 of Search With Candour. I'm going to dive into a little bit of SectorWatch, which is one of my favorite things that SISTRIX do. The fantastic Charlie Williams, who is a member of the data journalism team over at SISTRIX is talking about the top domains and content all about customer relationship management software, good old CRMs. I know plenty of us are probably familiar with different types of CRMs and this is a really interesting deep dive into that industry about who's doing what and how they are doing it. Specifically in the UK we've looked at 116 active players in the UK side of things for CRMs, and it is one of the largest software markets in the world by many different measurements, essentially.

We look at the growth, so it's grown by 18.2% with an estimated total revenue of more than 2 billion pounds, just in the UK by the way. Most CRMs, we're looking at a pretty big range actually for a month to month, so anything from eight pounds to 240 pounds a month and even higher than that if you get into the real enterprise software stuff as well. And the thing I really love about SectorWatch is how much Charlie dives into the details and the real kind of useful data you can take forward to learn from and adapt for you and your clients. So just a quick glimpse into the top three domains for transactional searches and the top three domains for informational searches already tells you a lot about this industry and what we can learn from it. The top three or four transactionals are, and And the top three or four informational searches are, again, Keap, that's and It's very interesting to see that both Salesforce and HubSpot are in both the informational and transactional.

If you've heard me talked about SectorWatch before, that's not often the case that we see two out of the three repeated across both the informational and the transactional side of things. There is a lot of high volume searches here. There is a lot of very clear search intent for people trying to buy this kind of stuff. Like I said, the market has grown more than 18% over the last couple of years and it is a pretty big deal to be ranking for some of these big terms, so understanding where things like Salesforce and HubSpot and CRM and even comparison sites like Forbes and stuff like that, where they're ranking and what content is ranking is a really, really powerful tool to allow you to analyse. It's basically giving you free market research and free competitor research from the data journalism team over at SISTRIX.

So again, particularly interesting, the leaders of these two sets of keywords are very, very similar. So both the top 20 do intent, so purchasing the transactional intent, and the top 20 no or informational intent, is actually 18 out of those top 25 domains are the same on both lists, things like Salesforce and HubSpot, but also tech review publications like PCMag and TechRadar, as well. It's a very interesting thing and you get a real deep dive into some high performance content examples, which are always fascinating to me to see which directories are working particularly well for them.

If you look at the Salesforce side of things in particular, their "What is CRM?" page, their guide is incredibly powerful. It's a huge pillar piece of content that drives massive amounts of traffic single-handedly to that site, and they also have a learning center which is very educational and very informational, which that directory is a really high performing piece of content as well. It has 37 pages that rank for at least one keyword and together combined, they rank for 1,735 keywords with more than 42,000 visits a month, and for 42 of those keywords, Salesforce ranks on page 14.

So those are some pretty big numbers, right? There is some, clearly some really, really great content that Salesforce are creating. The links are all in here to go and check out that content. Charlie also does an analysis and dives into why he thinks it's performing, why it's doing so well, and I always take this as a bit of advice, like I said, a bit of free research to take forward to discuss with my clients and think about for my sites and things like that. So, go to, go and check out the top domains and content for CRMs that is the latest SectorWatch done by the fantastic Charlie Williams over at SISTRIX. If you'd like to try SISTRIX for free and try out some of their free tools, get a free trial, all that good stuff, go to, that stands for Search With Candour and you can get a free trial and to try out some of their fantastic free tools, as well. Thank you once again SISTRIX for sponsoring Search With Candour. And before I get to my conversation with Ebere, just one more thing, I promise I won't hold you too much longer. We are doing another live podcast in Brighton on Wednesday the 13th of September 2023 at 7:00 PM at the Projects The Lanes in Brighton. Tickets are free. There'll be a link for the Eventbrite in the show notes, so please click that link and go and check it out. I'll be teaming up once again with the dynamic duo from the SEO Mindset podcast, the fantastic Sarah McDowell and Tazmin Suleman. We'll be talking all about how to manage your energy levels at conferences. I think it's a very relevant conversation to have the day before BrightonSEO, and of course we'll be around during BrightonSEO as well, if you want to catch us there as well. I know Tazmin is speaking and also hosting mindfulness sessions, but the best place to come and find us will be on the Wednesday night to come and join us for a live podcast. Like I said, tickets are free. They include drinks and snacks and a live podcast, and there'll be an opportunity for Q&A and to get involved in the discussion and the conversation afterwards as well. Go to the link in the show notes. It's an Eventbrite link and get your free tickets now before they sell out, which I'm sure they will do very, very soon as we get closer to BrightonSEO.

How to analyse traffic drops with Ebere Jonathan

Without any further ado, here is my conversation about how to identify and recover from traffic drops with Ebere Jonathan. And my guest for this week... Welcome to the show Ebere Jonathan.

Ebere: Thank you so much Jack for having me. Really am excited to be here with you.

Jack: We were just saying before we started recording, it's so nice to actually have a conversation around... because I know you and I have talked on social media a couple of times and it's nice to actually sit down, see each other as close as we can get a face-to-face in this digital age of ours, but it's really nice to actually sit down and have a conversation. I know we've been planning this for a long time to have you on the podcast, so I'm very, very excited to dive into our topic because we were talking about it again before we were just started recording, and the reason we want to do this topic is, I've covered a lot of different topics over the last few weeks with a few different guests. We've done some content stuff, we've covered some self-confidence stuff and lots of different things, some scoff skills, some content driven stuff. We'll get a bit technical this week, and I'm excited to talk about a real practical kind of subject that you brought to the table, and my first question is going to be why you want to talk about it, but to the listeners, we're going to be talking about how to analyse the cause of traffic drops, and I'm sure this is a very, very common issue and a very, very common thing a lot of listeners have experienced in their SEO careers. So what was your thought, what was your plan behind bringing it as a topic for the podcast?

Ebere: We know as SEOs and from business and not just for the PO part of thing, the drop in traffic means the drop in leads, drop in booking, drop in sign form, signing and money, so that's why it's important, know how to analyse this and topic analysis was one difficult part of SEO that I had to tackle when I first was interested.

Jack: I think it's a very scary thing as well, right? The first time you see something. I remember it was for me three or four years ago, I was working in a different agency with a client and we saw just a pretty significant traffic drop and I had this heart stopping moment of like, "Oh no, I've done something wrong. Oh no, I've pressed a wrong button somewhere. I've completely de-indexed. I've put a Noindex tag on the site or something. Oh no, I've done something completely wrong." But actually you can learn so much from just looking at the data, reviewing it from different angles and different perspectives and all that kind of stuff, and I think it's a really, really cool topic because it seems fairly simple, but I think it can get really in depth and really interesting as soon as you start exploring that data and it's such a big learning experience I think for everyone who works in our industry.

Ebere: Yeah, it gets even worse when the clients comes to you, they're losing traffic, what was the cause that they're expected to give them an answer immediately. I tell them, you're OK, that they're fixing it. You have no idea where to start from the sense to know what you should do and how you should get that around.

Jack: Yeah, I think there was something I learned a couple of years into my career that was there is power in saying, "I don't know yet. I will go and check," rather than... say you're on a client call, you're on the monthly reporting call and they ask the question of, "Why are we down 20% traffic? Why are we down? What's happened over here?" And you don't know the answer. Don't just say, "I think it's reason A or reason B," and just completely make it up and just hope you are correct. Be honest and say, "I haven't checked that yet. I will go and review my data. I will go and check." We're going to talk about a lot of different tools on this episode and how we can explore it from different angles and say there's a confidence in that, right? There's a power to that to say, actually no, I'm being honest with the client, and hopefully, well, maybe by the time you get to reporting call, you should probably have already done that process. I may be doing that around the wrong way, but still, if you get a panicked phone call from a client saying, "Oh God, what's happened to our traffic?" "I will go and check, leave it with me. I have this as a priority. I will look at it," is a powerful thing to say to a client I think.

Ebere: Yeah, I totally agree with you on that because you can just stay at the door and say, "Oh, I think it's this," and then you go and check and it something different. It's just your thought. This makes more sense to like, "Okay, I'll run a check and get back to you."

Jack: Yeah. And I think there's another thing, something Mark here at Candour talks about a lot is, the importance of the why behind so much of the data, especially when it comes to reporting, whether you're working in-house or in an agency, you're going to be reporting to somebody, right? You're going to be explaining your ROI and all that kind of stuff, your metrics, your KPIs, your goals, whatever it is, and you've got to explain that to somebody saying, "We're up 50% this month, but okay, but why?" Or, "We are down 25% this month, year-on-year. Why?" There's so much, again, power and information, in asking that question and something I really kind of took on board, especially when I joined here at Candour was including that in the information to your client or to your superiors or whoever you're reporting to, going and getting that data and actually having a reason for instead of just, "Yes, traffic is up, everything's good," end of conversation, you have, "It is up because our blog posts are performing well." "We have sorted out this technical issue which now allows these pages to be indexed and now everything is..." "We have changed this, and now the rankings are going up," or "We've added a new way of conversion through a CTA or whatever and now conversions are up," or whatever it is. Actually, having that conversation is so important and I think it's even more interesting personally to look at it from the other perspective that we're going to be talking about this week is, the negative changes, what can negatively affect us and how we can then learn from that, right? So lets dive in shall we? So I guess we'll kind of start off with what are some common causes we've experienced in our career so far? So I think there's quite a few different options here and there are quite a few different directions we can go in. Where would you like to start there? What's the first one that comes to your mind?

Ebere: It depends. As SEO-

Jack: The classic SEO answer.

Ebere: It depends. I think they all have those technical changes. It happens often. We know Google reproduces... their FAQ is there. Tomorrow FAQ is gone, and then maybe competitors are upping their games or maybe algorithm. We know that one. Awful. It happens, guardian changes, seasonality. There are lots of them, but then it depends on your website, on your case, your customised case.

Jack: Definitely, definitely. There's so much that can change and I think there's something... I always lean on year-on-year data for a lot of client reporting rather than month to month or week to week. I know a lot of people might disagree with me, but the reason for that I think is one of the big reasons we can kind of... I think the easiest one to explore and kind of get out of the way is seasonality, right? That's such a big part of so many industries. I found it especially common in a lot of e-commerce clients I've worked with over the years where they will have a particular range of products that changes per season or just interest from customers. So search demand, literally the search volume for that thing will drop or the things like Google Trends, using that to understand seasonality and then looking at your previous year's data and comparing that, that is such a powerful thing to do and be like, okay, yeah, that is clearly an answer here and maybe even the client already knows that, right?

Ebere: Or maybe not, but as you said, you can only notice this when you zoom in and look at it year-on-year. If you're looking at it one by one, you wouldn't get this, you just panic, oh, traffic have dropped, but you zoom in and look at it the past year you notice that the same trend occurred same year.

Jack: Yeah, I've done that a lot of times with my client reporting where it's like from February to March, traffic has dropped, however it has dropped less than it did in February to March of last year, and as we can see this is a common pattern throughout the last three or four years. Every February to March the traffic goes down and continues for however many months, being able to easily identify that seasonality. So for me, I mentioned Google Trends. Is there anything else you would use to have a look at seasonality and easily identify that as a quick cause?

Ebere: Yeah, aside seasonality, I try to check competitors, too, and see if they are also experiencing some similar issue because in their then seasonality problems, say you sell shoes and then you check all your competitors that are selling shoes and noticed that there's a drop in this keyword, then definitely something is wrong and it's easy to use any of the third party tools to check Ahrefs, Semrush to look at what your competitor's traffic looked like.

Jack: Yeah, that's a really interesting one as well. That's something I've really been introducing into a lot of my reports recently is including that competitor information. So seeing an industry-wide change, if you know the entire industry for your client changes in the summer, suddenly everybody's interested in this product and not this product, having a look at competitors is a great way of identifying that. If you see everybody goes up in July and then comes back down in September, chances are it's not something you've done on the website, you've not broken anything but you've also not really able to take credit for it with the client either if it is a positive change. But yeah, negative changes, I think, are something you can easily spot. Like you said, when you zoom out and have 3, 4, 5 different competitors, whether you're using Semrush, Ahrefs, SISTRIX, like those bigger kind of wider tools that you can compare and contrast multiple competitors at once, I think that's a really, really great way of looking at it.

Ebere: Yeah, and it gives your clients the information they love. They love to see, "Oh, it's not just us, it's happening to them, too. Okay. That's fine."

Jack: Definitely, definitely. I think the client almost has one eye on the competition a lot of the time anyway, so they will be having a look, but they're not necessarily looking at the data. They might just be looking at their website or their social marketing or whatever it is, other sides of things. When you can come with data and say, "Yeah, the competitors are in the same position," like you said, that's something every client wants to hear, right? Unless you are the one that's going up and everyone else is going down.

Ebere: Make them happier.

Jack: That's the really good news. That's Christmas for clients is what that is. Cool. So next one, you mentioned algorithm changes. That is a huge, huge topic. You even touched on the recent reduction in visibility for FAQ Schema and things like that. What kind of things will we be looking into, what kind of tools, what kind of thoughts go through your head if you see a big update coming that could possibly affect a client's visibility?

Ebere: Well, for algorithm change, I noticed it bounces back with no time, but there are tools out there. I can't recall their names right now, but there are a lot of tools out there that are used to check what is happening and why it's happening. So if it's algorithm update is going to get you, I think Semrush has something like that.

Jack: Yeah, they have their volatility radar or something like that. I can't remember the exact name of it, but it shows you how much the SERPs have changed in the last week and if it goes in the red, a lot of people, Aleyda Solis and Barry Schwartz and all those guys are going to suddenly be like, "Something's coming up. We can tell. We've got the data." I know our partners at SISTRIX do this a lot as well. They've always got the data there to be like, "We have noticed a lot of shifts changing." The way SISTRIX do it with their visibility index, they can see so many different people at the same time and suddenly, like you said, for the entire world suddenly shifts in one direction. It's probably a good sign of an algorithm coming up, right?

Ebere: Lily Ray is great for that. So what-

Jack: Oh yeah, Lily Ray is the best.

Ebere: Most of the times I don't think I've already involved it strike so bad like that. The way people panic about it most, because what happens is there is an August core updates right now and then you go into your client site and see there is a drop. Without further research you conclude is the August core updates, whereas something else is happening behind the plane. So it makes sense. Many people blame core updates on their traffic drops. Every time there's core updates and I don't really know that. So it makes sense to do research even if there's updates. Still research, still try to check if there is a significant drop in traffic, check what is causing this drop and don't blame it on updates.

Jack: It's the easy "Get Out of Jail Free" card for SEOs, like, "Oh, not my problem, it's Google, don't blame me."

Ebere: Yeah, that's it. An easy way out. “Yeah, it's Google.” Courage.

Jack: Yeah, I think from the other side of it as well. I know Google always recommended... there's something John Mueller talks about a lot and Danny Sullivan talks a lot about as well. Don't make big changes when a core update is happening if you know it's happening. Like you said, we know the August core update is rolling out at time of recording and probably by the time this episode comes out in a couple of weeks it will still be rolling out or just about finishing up and making significant changes on your site. Again, coming around to reporting to clients and stuff, if you've seen a positive change from an algorithm update, first of all, congratulations. Second of all, if you make a change during that time, it is then very, very difficult to work out which one was the influence behind that? Was it the algorithm change? Was it the core update that changed the traffic in a positive direction or was it your hard work that actually paid off and made the change there? It's much harder to tell, so the more you can kind of separate that stuff out and say we are going to make a significant change, but let's wait for the latest core update to complete rolling out so you make sure everything's kind of back to normal stability. Like you said, everything bounces back and it's back to normal. Then is the time to start thinking about those big changes and then you can then talk about proof that your hard work has paid off or something has gone horribly wrong.

Ebere: If it's the core updates, it's going to bounce back, so don't reach out.

Jack: Yeah, unless you're doing very dodgy SEO stuff.

Ebere: Yeah, unless... and if you're doing dodgy stuff then definitely you'll run into issues any moment from now.

Jack: Yeah, you'll get caught eventually, that's for sure. Cool, so let's talk about some of those big changes that can kind of affect our traffic and possibly cause traffic drops. One of the big ones for me I think is any sort of migration, any sort of significant changes to... because I think a lot of people think of a migration as moving CMS or changing your domain, but even simple things like changing the layout of your website or changing the site structure, the way your page is linked to each other, if you change that significantly, that can have a massive impact on how users and how search engines see your website overall, right?

Ebere: Yeah, exactly. Easy for you to detect this. I cannot try to guess what caused a traffic drop when I look at the graphs, and when it's technical easy for you to know because the graph goes like a like this. And then it remains flat that way you just stepped down and then stays that way. When you check out the other pages, you're going to see that, oh, this is affecting most or all the pages and something is happening up there. It must, as you said, must not be big migration, like the main name change or some CMS change or something big like that. It would be something as little as your developer mistakenly checked if you're using something like WordPress mistakenly takes it above. Yeah, don't let this be visible and then you've indexed all pages and the traffic goes flat, and sometimes it could simply be canonical issue and yeah, choosing a wrong page as a canonical page, those important pages are not ranking anymore and the traffic goes all the way down. So some tiny, tiny stuffs like that. Little migrations cause real traffic, those there.

Jack: Definitely and what would be the kind of easiest way to find out if you've accidentally Noindex something or got the wrong canonicals, and what would be your kind of go-to path, find that as quickly as possible?

Ebere: So if I see those kinds of stuff, the first thing needs to interview the dev team, let them tell you the tiniest... did you make any tiniest change, just let me know, because they will feel like, "No, it's not a big deal, but then you get to see that this tiniest change caused those changes. Then you can use Google Search Console to inspect the URL and check. Google can actually, okay, this is no longer in that, this is no longer the canonical, this is the new canonical of Google, can crawl this because of this. So you'll see the dates the last time Google crawled it, say, okay, there's a problem right here, but the go-to, apart from using Google Search Console, is to interview your dev team and know if they have done something without your knowledge.

Jack: I think that has happened to... again, this is another thing that probably has happened to anyone who has worked in SEO long enough. This will happen to you eventually where someone somewhere, maybe it's even you, maybe you've got CMS access and yet like you said, do you very easily tick the wrong box or click the wrong button or whatever it was and you've Noindexed the whole site. That has happened quite a few times for me and I've even had exactly as you said, developers say like, "No, no, no, we weren't doing anything." We're like, "What do you mean?" "Well, we updated a few plugins." I'm like, "Hmm, yes, yeah, I'm sure you did. What plugins were they exactly?" And it's like, "Oh yeah, blah blah blah, blah, blah, and then it says index analysis." I'm like, "Yeah, did you update that and not tick like remain visible or whatever option is there?" So we kind of along similar sort of lines, another thing I thought of when you mentioned this topic was, and something I've encountered a lot with clients is tracking issues as well. Obviously we're all moved now to GA4, right? Everything's fine, everybody's happy with GA4 and everything's perfect, nothing to worry about. I've seen that quite a lot, again where somebody will make a very small change. Maybe somebody's doing something in Tag Manager or just adjusting something and you'll end up with a tracking issue. So have you experienced tracking issues before? Is that a kind of thing you'd be able to dive in and analyse from that perspective as well?

Ebere: Yeah. I think that's part of the first step to actually do when you notice that your traffic is down. First thing I check is to confirm I'm actually on the right property because sometimes you're on the migration and then you are freaking out like, "Oh my god, what's happening?" And then I check, "Oh this is the http version or this is the non-www. Then before you start panicking, I confirm that. Then after that you check if you're having tracking issue maybe somehow deleted in your backend or your Tag Managers mentioned confirm that those two are okay before you move on to the other space.

Jack: Yeah, I totally agree. That's always my first thought as soon as I see, like you said, that straight drop off to zero is a really clear idea of either it's an indexing thing or a tracking thing and I find tracking is something you can fairly quickly identify, have a look at your GA4, have a look at whatever analytics you're using, whatever you are using to track. Does that match your Search Console? Because I think a lot of people, we kind of take for granted that traffic is traffic and it's all the same thing, but the fact that Search Console is those raw clicks from the SERP to your website, that is a click from Search Console is not the same as a user from GA4. They are two very different things and if you see GA4 suddenly dropped to zero, but Search Console is still ticking along nicely, that's a pretty clear indication that something is going wrong with the tracking side of things, but you're still indexed because Search Console is still reporting clicks and impressions.

Ebere: Yeah. So I think for SEOs it's mostly Search Console that we are looking at unless we are now trying to analyse specific user's journey or something as we're going to analytics. So most times we are dropping first on Search Console, with regard what should happen on our site.

Jack: Definitely. Definitely. I think tying round to algorithm updates as well. Another thing I think a lot of us can panic about, a lot of us SEOs are often quite a panicky kind of people and what Google has been experimenting with a lot is a lot of different SERP features and that can make quite a big difference in a client's visibility as well, right?

Ebere: Yeah. But you can also know this from the Cloud, it's not going to dive all the way down. Yes, so maybe you are still ranking in the same position position, position 532, but there are lots of other things up there that takes the users and they don't get to see you, so your impressions and your clicks goes down. Maybe they've decided to start watching videos instead of going down to read. Also, the videos are taking their attention.

Jack: We've seen that so much. There's so much more, just other things going on in the SERP, rather than just your... 10, 15 years ago, you just talk about the traditional 10 blue links on the first page of Google and there's not that much going on outside of that. Now, even before we start talking about the things that are coming up with SGE and perspectives and all the kind of AI stuff that Google is working on as well, that's a whole other conversation. Go and listen to my previous episodes about SGE and perspectives. You want to learn more about that, but even simple things. We mentioned the change in FAQ Schema that Google is going to reduce the visibility for people using FAQ page and how-to schema outside of high quality trustable sources of health information and governmental sites. So if your client has... say your strategy has been solely driven on getting visibility through featured snippets and rich results and things like that, you could see a pretty significant drop off.

Ebere: Yeah. So, to check what's there and what's no longer there, what have been removed and what is still there, it can let you know, okay, this is the cause for traffic drop.

Jack: Yeah, I think that historical SERP analysis I find so fascinating even outside of just how the rankings are changing, what has actually changed, how much is that, as you said, does Google now consider it worthy of ranking video information rather than written information? So now suddenly there is a video carousel in between position one and two. Or even above position one sometimes, you'll get TikToks, YouTube shorts, YouTube videos. Sometimes you'll get a YouTube video with the pullout of, here is the 32nd clip in that timeline you should be to give you the information as quickly... as a user, great. If you're not creating video content and you previously had a really great article, not so good.

Ebere: So those features really affect our traffic.

Jack: Definitely, definitely. We mentioned naughty SEOs, dodgy SEOs. Something also worth thinking about is penalties and manual actions as well. They can have a pretty significant impact.

Ebere: Yeah, unlike the technical one. You also see it go down and flat because it affects people's sites. So when you see those kinds of flat or zero traffic, check penalty, check in dictation and see and you can check this model penalty your Google Search Console. So just go down to the setting and you're going to see it.

Jack: Yeah, it's usually something that... I've not experienced it myself personally, thankfully with any of my clients.

Ebere: I've not, but whenever I still those kinds of diet I try to just confirm that okay, we don't have anything in penalty-related.

Jack: Yeah, that is an important step to take. I think having a look at the tracking side of things, I think is first port of call, talking to devs and indexing, having a look at those security, the manual actions, and the penalties on the left-hand side there of Search Console just in case. You never know there might be something, it might have been hacked, your client might have done something without telling you and didn't even realise, or maybe they're up to dodgy stuff, who knows? Some clients just don't tell you, but it's always worth checking and I think that's something a lot of us, like I said, I've never experienced it so I kind of take it for granted. That is not something I would check during my usual regularly weekly checkups on a client account or whatever, but when there's bad news and there's a potential big serious issue, then is the time to go and check that stuff.

Ebere: Worth to check it, yeah. It's worth checking. And also, talking about hacking, in some cases, hacking can also cause your traffic drop. Maybe your site has been hijacked and redirected to something else and then you check on the technical stuff and everything is fine and you're wondering what's happening? Possible that it has been hacked?

Jack: Yeah, I know that's a really common thing. Here's a little tip. I remember I spoke to Bar from Wix, Bar Wolf from Wix, when I was in BrightonSEO. I think it was last year when I spoke to him and he mentioned having searched on a site and using the site operator on the SERP itself and seeing what pages Google is seeing and suddenly there was a load of Russian characters and Chinese characters and stuff like non-English script and non-English alphabet characters as these page titles and he was like, "What is going on here? Ah, I've probably been hacked," and that is part of that exploration. So even, like you said, outside of Search Console, working out where you've been hacked, where that's coming from, and what pages that's affecting can be a really powerful tool.

Ebere: Most times we don't get our mind to think about it this way. We always concentrate on algorithm and other stuff. It's possible, very rare, but it's possible.

Jack: Fingers crossed it never happens. Fingers crossed.

Ebere: Fingers crossed, it'll never happen. Your security is tight and everything will never happen.

Jack: Yeah, definitely.

Ebere: I think those guys are able to link their way in.

Jack: They'll always find a way. Even as secure as we get now with every CMS pretty much being super, super secure and as much as people say, "Oh, WordPress is a third of the entire web," or whatever. Overall everything is fairly secure, but if a hacker or a spammer or whoever wants to get in, they probably can. To the general population, everything is pretty secure, but if people know what they're doing, they're going to be able to get through eventually.

Ebere: And then sometimes you also notice people panicking for traffic drop, whereas it's just a new website that got a spike and then started to stabilise and they rush, "Our traffic is dropping, so we just got the first spike," and after a while they start to stabilise. Google tried to give first website, I call it priority or something, just to make... so the first time you get a lot of attention and then after a while the attention stabilises and it's not if you're losing traffic, it's just your traffic stabilising.

Jack: Yeah, I think that's a real key for ongoing long-term growth as well is, keeping, like you said, Google wants to keep the SERP fresh. They talk about how they want to diversify the SERP and they want to keep it fresh so they're not just going to rank the same 3, 4, 5, 10 websites over and over and over again. Otherwise, everything would just be Wikipedia over and over and over again. It would just be the same reference sites and the same high authority sites all over the place and none of us who are working on smaller client websites would ever rank for anything.

But the fact that Google wants to keep those SERPs fresh, it wants to diversify them and make sure that you are able to provide new information and it's not just something that was written 15 years ago by a very high authority site, you've come in with, "Actually no, this is the latest information, this is the update from our industry. You should listen to us," but you're totally right. It then settles down into maybe this is what you can expect long-term and keeping that momentum going is how you get that steady growth from a client. Keep creating new content, building new links, keeping yourself fresh and in the conversation, and make yourself a voice of authority is how you keep that so you don't just completely flatten out.

Ebere: Yeah, exactly. That's the point I'm faced with.

Jack: That is the long-term goal for everyone, I think, pretty much in SEO.

Ebere: Yeah. I actually think that SEO, we should also get to this understanding that a traffic drop will always happen at a point, at any point, just like doctors, they go every day to the hospital to save lives. They also understand that once in a while that will happen, so we should just get this at the back of our mind, and then prepare this emergency backpack of how to check things and how to figure out what is wrong and then how to fix them instead of out-

Jack: Just panicking and running away, ignoring the client calls and just running away and hiding somewhere. My wife is a nurse, so I know the hospital side of things very, very well in terms of keeping things in perspective. Like you said, things are going to happen, bad things will happen, mistakes are going to be made. That's a normal part of life wherever you are, but we're only working on websites. It's not life and death. Don't worry too much. It might affect the client's day and you might have an angry phone call or two, but it's not the end of the world.

Ebere: Good. Go on vacation if you want to.

Jack: So we talked about causes of traffic. We talked about how to analyse them, how to find them, all that kind of stuff. What can we do to prevent them as well? Like that preventative process and also how to recover from it, as well.

Ebere: So as I just mentioned earlier on, we can't stop it. There is nothing we are going to build to hold our websites so tight, it doesn't drop, it just keeps going on. Something will definitely happen. Users may decide, "Okay, I'm not interested in healthy recipe. I'm in summer and I'm not researching anything healthy. I want to eat." And then what do you do? So you can't really, really prevent it 100%, but by keeping your site safe, ensuring everything is okay during migration and redirection, and ensuring your dev team are on top of the game and they are keeping you informed when they are making the slightest change, and then monitoring your traffic once in the while to quickly detect any change, will help you fix them early on or prevent them from happening at all so that you don't lose traffic. But there are some traffic that is not our cost, it's not from deserve. It is my security issue. It's not just on us happened. It happened and there's nothing you can do about it. They decline. Know that this is beyond you.

Jack: Yeah, definitely. There's always been a thing for me where I feel guilty if I don't check up on a client's website or have a look at the data. I'm too busy. I will only check once a month for the reporting sessions and that kind of thing. If you can, I will recommend just having a quick check, a scheduled time every week. So Wednesday at 3:00 PM I will check this client for 10 minutes. Thursday at 2:00, I will check this client for 10 minutes and just pace yourselves out or if you want to do it, spend an hour and check everyone's accounts and all that kind of stuff, that's also an option as well. But I really do recommend, and it's something I'm recommending this, but I'm very guilty of not doing it myself. In a perfect world, regularly check in on stuff.

Ebere: Yeah, I used to do it early on in SEO because of the whole excitement of knowing how my traffic is good, but over time you just get over it and don't want to be looking at traffic every now and then, but as you said, very useful. Maybe Mondays or Fridays you want to check, so be able to prevent some things from going too far.

Jack: Yeah, definitely. I could recommend a tool called ContentKing. I know they previously sponsored the show. We are not sponsored by them, but I know we use them a lot here at Candour to track any significant changes that happen to the site. It's like a real-time monitoring tool that will let you know, "Hey, by the way, your homepage just got a Noindex," and you'll get a little email of that of like, "Hey, just letting you know your entire site has no tracking at all. Your analytics has just been removed for some reason." I don't think that was scheduled for today. That's a strange thing. And like you said, you then can call or email the dev and be like, "Hello, just noticed that the analytics is no longer tracking or the homepage is Noindexed. Did we do that on purpose? Is this a scheduled thing? Is this the plan?" Like you said, I think that communication is so important between the teams.

Ebere: Yeah, yeah, absolutely important. And just for clarification, we are talking about significant traffic drop here and not the normal regular spike and down, because that's definitely normal. We are going to expect normal, up and down, up and down. We're talking of real significant traffic drop that there's a problem here.

Jack: Yeah, I think that first stage is where you kind of have a look at that and work it out. You can tell, oh, it's a 5%, 10% different, whatever it is, that's normal. If there's this more significant change, then we can start thinking about seasonality or the next possible step. And exactly as you were saying, if there's a sudden drop to zero, that is a perfect time to really have a look and that's a pretty clear indication of something going wrong.

Ebere: Sure. We didn't need much on competitors. That's when you're talking about the 30% drop and you want to defend this to clients. I don't think you want to tell them your competitors are overtaking you, the most of them are overtaking them. They're opening their strategy and they're dealing with better, maybe with how is it? Is it E-E or E-A-T?

Jack: I always say double E-A-T. I don't know if that's correct. I have stuck with that. I saw Lily Ray use it once and I've stuck with it. If Lily Ray says it, I can say it as well. I trust her for anything E-E-A-T.

Ebere: Yeah, maybe they're doing better with E-E-A-T, backlinks and stuff, and then your traffic is going down because they are overtaking you position-wise or Google are giving them preference. So it also makes sense to do this competitors' analysis when you are checking your traffic drop if you have something that-

Jack: Yeah, that's a really interesting side of... We talked about SERP features, but the fact that... again, it's something Mark always talks about and you made a great point there of your competitors aren't just sitting there doing nothing. They are probably working with agencies or have in-house people or are also pushing their marketing and SEO and all that kind of stuff, as well. You're not just going to, we've got position one, now we can relax forever and just never do any work ever again. We've got position one for all of our important keywords. Now I can retire and we'll just make all the money in the world and off we go. It's a competitive space. Chances are your industry that you're working in is competitive because people want to make money. So there's always going to be competition there and the fact that your clients are always going to have competitors, they're always going to have competitors who are trying things, doing different strategies. I found this as one of my e-commerce clients where one of the competitors just appeared out of nowhere and they had really focused on one particular topic that didn't have a crossover with my client's product. They have a slightly different product range, but they had quite a bit of crossover, but this product was just like, "Nope, it's not one of our products. So I'm not too worried about it," but it brought up the whole visibility, because they were gaining backlinks for this topic and this product range. Suddenly the whole site started ranking for things that did crossover with my clients. It was like, now you need to worry about these people. They are doing hard work. They are building links, there're going out there creating content, all this kind of stuff like yeah, we need to keep an eye on these people and like we said at the very beginning, this is all a learning process. You can use that as like, oh, they're doing this strategy. Here's how we can take that and adapt that for us or steal it and do it better or whatever.

Ebere: I've worked on a client that was losing traffic and checked everything, technical stuff, everything is fine, and then the competitors are working overtime on their batting and this is making them out, trying them in most of the keywords and that is what is causing their traffic pick up. So sometimes, not this, it's very important.

Jack: Not even your fault, not even the devs, not even anyone. It's the competitors that are the problem. They're the troublemakers.

Ebere: Yeah, definitely. It'll not dive to zero, right, because they may not be the keyword, but if you leave it, if you leave it may die zero. Eventually end up taking everything on unless Google decides to reshuffle again and then bring it up for any-

Jack: Yeah, don't get comfortable, don't get lazy. Just you're in the top three, position one, don't get too comfortable. There's always someone trying harder, trying, pushing. There's always someone around the corner ready to take that spot, right?

Ebere: Yeah. I like to think about it this way. I'm hired as an SEO to work on a glide side. The competitors also hired another SEO to work on here, so we're competing. You have to be looking at them. They're actually looking at you, so you're looking at your side to know what you're doing and learn how to beat you at the game. So you should also be looking at them to understand how to beat them at the game.

Jack: 100%. Absolutely. Absolutely. Awesome. Well, this has been a really interesting conversation. I've really enjoyed diving into some data, talking about traffic changes, all the different things that can happen to our sites, our clients, all that kind of stuff. If you want any more information listeners, the links for all the tools we've mentioned, so if you want more information about how to do this re Search Console, we mentioned a couple of other tools going through from Ahrefs and Semrush to SISTRIX to ContentKing, and all kinds of stuff. I'll put links for all of that stuff in the show notes. If you go to, you can find all the links there and also they can find links to you, Ebere. Where can they find you on social media and stuff?

Ebere: On Twitter and LinkedIn. Ebere Jonathan.

Jack: Nice, nice, nice and easy to find you. Like I said, links for both of those will be in the show notes, so please do go and follow Ebere on LinkedIn, on Twitter. She's a great follow. You post some interesting, funny, hilarious things. So I appreciate you and thank you for coming on the show.

Ebere: Thank you so much, Jack, for having me. I really had fun, too.

Jack: Me too. Me too. It was a lot of fun. Thank you.

Ebere: Thank you.

Jack: That about wraps us up for this week. Thank you Ebere Jonathan for joining me. Thank you for listening. I hope you've enjoyed this episode as much as I did recording it. I thought it was a really interesting conversation. Quick reminder, once again, we'll be doing a live episode in Brighton on Wednesday the 13th of September 2023. Click the link in the show notes. Get your free tickets now, and I'll be running around the show floor recording interviews and stuff. So, you'll get kind of a follow-up to a Halloween special we did back in October of last year with me, bright pink microphones running around on the BrightonSEO and recording lots and lots of interviews and lots and lots of snippets from the biggest names in SEO. So stay tuned for two BrightonSEO specials coming up in the next couple of weeks. And I've also got plenty of other fantastic interviews, and of course, the monthly recap episode with Mark as part of SISTRIX with Candour coming up in the next few weeks before the end of September as well. So stay tuned for all of that over the next two, three, or four weeks and thank you so much for listening and have a lovely week.