Google Webmaster impressions drop

by | Feb 9, 2012

Google Webmaster impressions drop
4 min read

Recently one of my client came to me alarmed by the sudden drop in visibility as displayed on Google Webmaster tools.
I went on and open up both Google and Bing webmaster tools as well as Google Analytics.
My first reaction was certainly a “what on earth is that!” moment . A scary chart to look at:

Top queries impressions dropped by 54%
Top Pages impressions dropped by 70%

Drop in impressions Webmaster Tools

Top Queries impressions on Bing remained the same 
A piece of relief for me, my client’s website is not automatically going down the sink for whatever reason.

Drop-in-impressions Webmaster

Google Analytics Organic traffic stable
Here as well, everything seems normal. Better than before actually, but only marginally

Drop-in-impressions Organic Search Traffic Google Analytics


So what happened?

Trawling the web, I found a mix bag of items ranging from Panda updates to brand recognition factor to potential errors on Google Servers. All of this didn’t quite fit the bill. Why did my traffic went up when the site’s visibility collapsed on the SERPs?
I realised that some of this loss, given over an extended period could neither be a penalty (traffic doesn’t drop) nor a site issue (Bing/G. Analytics values are stable)
The only thing I was left with was potential change in attribution/Data or SERPs behaviour.
I recalled reading an article about Google Webmaster changing the rules of its average search ranking position. While the timing was better and the topic closer to what I was looking for, it wasn’t still quite right as it was only affecting the numbers displayed and not the possible visibility in SERPs.

What all of this means for marketers?

The first lesson is to take a deep breath.
If you are doing your job correctly, you know your site is working fine and  you are confident your link profile is solid, then relax, think through your methodology and analyse the situation before rushing into actions.
The second lesson is to always be careful about the numbers you are using to analyse your SEO.
Has this drop can cause an overall loss of performance? Obviously not. Yesterday my client recorded the highest traffic day in 6 months.
But I could have very well used a composite number looking at the impressions as a base line to evaluate my longtail keywords work.
While I developped some pretty niffty tools over the years, I often found that the most important values are often the most classic ones.

  1. Traffic
  2. # of pages
  3. # of kwds
  4. kwds per page yeld
  5. Split between your type of traffic/queries (Head vs Body vs long tail)*

*: here is a nifty way of doing keywords segmentation on Google Analytics . Thanks to John Doherty for that


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