Drop in SEO traffic while SERP rankings are stable. Why? [SOLVED: READ THREAD FOR DETAILS]

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Hi all,

We have a curious issue with our SEO traffic.

From July 14th, we've experienced a sharp drop in organic traffic to a specific subset of our site's pages: Pages with the "/l/" path.
This is not driven by a specific page - all our top performing "/l/" pages have seen a similar sharp decline.
There is also no significant difference in mobile vs desktop traffic.

Here's Google Analytics:



And here's Google Search Console showing "Clicks" to the site:



However, at the same time our SERP rankings have remained largely unchanged.

Here's SEMRush:



And here's Google Search Console showing "Position" data:



In fact, some of the pages that have seen this drop in traffic are still ranking as #1 in Google and are in Google featured snippet for the keywords we're tracking.

What could be the cause of this? What am I missing?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks in advance,
Daniel
#drop #rankings #seo #serp #stable #traffic
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  • Profile picture of the author Experito
    Indeed, you may not be tracking the keywords that bring you traffic in SEMRush. These are available in your Google Search Console though. I think you want to expand the list to get a better understanding of the search terms that bring you traffic
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    • Profile picture of the author DanielNest
      Thanks for the quick response. Our SEMRush should be a pretty good reflection of our traffic generating keywords - the content strategy hinges upon these keywords in the first place. And like you said, Google Search Console is showing the full spectrum and tells the same story.

      I have identified a potential culprit in that we're apparently feeding wrong meta title and description data to Google. This affects our search appearance and therefore potentially the clickthrough to the site. That'd explain why we can still show up in the same position but get fewer people going to the site.

      I'm trying to figure out if this is a recent change that coincides with the timing of the drop. I'll pursue this further and share the end result, in case it's helpful to someone with similar issues.
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      • Profile picture of the author dave_hermansen
        Originally Posted by DanielNest View Post

        Thanks for the quick response. Our SEMRush should be a pretty good reflection of our traffic generating keywords - the content strategy hinges upon these keywords in the first place. And like you said, Google Search Console is showing the full spectrum and tells the same story.

        I have identified a potential culprit in that we're apparently feeding wrong meta title and description data to Google. This affects our search appearance and therefore potentially the clickthrough to the site. That'd explain why we can still show up in the same position but get fewer people going to the site.

        I'm trying to figure out if this is a recent change that coincides with the timing of the drop. I'll pursue this further and share the end result, in case it's helpful to someone with similar issues.
        My first thought was whether there had been a change on the site that corresponds with the traffic decline. While it is normal for many websites to lose traffic in the summer (people have better things to do on sunny days), it doesn't explain that sharp, instant decline.

        You say you are feeding the wrong meta title and description to search engines but when did that happen? Has it always been that way or is it something that happened due to something you changed recently?

        Normally, a traffic drop coincides with a rankings drop or a reduction in marketing efforts. I suppose it could also be that some link (or links) that used to be driving a lot of traffic have been removed. If it is none of those, it has to be less people suddenly searching or something about the appearance of your search listings. It would seem you are on the right track.
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        • Profile picture of the author DanielNest
          Hey dave_hermansen,

          Thanks for taking the time to leave a detailed response.

          As it turns out, my intuition was correct. A tech deploy on July 12 "broke" our meta data - we were no longer feeding anything specific to Google, so it just grabbed random snippets.

          As soon as we identified the problem and fixed it, our traffic came back:



          Just goes to show that ranking is only half the battle - bad meta descriptions have a huge negative impact on the clickthrough rate!

          Best,
          Daniel
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