Why Brand Clicks and Overall Clicks are Decreasing: Common Causes and Solutions
Many website owners and SEOs have noticed a concerning trend – branded searches and overall clicks decreasing in tandem for their sites. I’ve consulted with clients facing this issue and want to share the most common potential causes, along with tips to diagnose the problem and get your traffic back on track.
Seasonality can lead to fewer branded and non-branded searches overall. For example, an ecommerce site may see lower search volume for their brand name and products during the summer months when people are on vacation and spending less time shopping online. Monitor click trends month-to-month and year-over-year to see if seasonal shifts may be a factor.
Google Algorithm and SERP Changes
Google is constantly tweaking its algorithms and search engine results pages (SERPs). For example, adding new featured snippets in prime real estate can push all results down a spot. Or a new knowledge panel for your brand may satisfy searchers’ needs above the clickable search results. Audit any algorithm updates around the time clicks declined and check for new SERP features that may be impacting click-through rates.
Decreased Offline Marketing
Especially for local/service businesses, decreased offline marketing like TV, radio, print ads, billboards, etc can slowly drain branded searches over time as brand awareness drops. It takes a few weeks to see the impact in online branded search volume. Compare clicks to any major marketing budget or campaign changes.
Increased Paid Search Competition
If competitors start bidding on your branded keywords when they weren’t before, that will cannibalize organic clicks. But if branded paid ads have been long-standing, increased spend by competitors likely isn’t the cause of declines.
Ambiguous Brand Names
If your brand name is generic, common or used across industries, Google may tweak its knowledge graph and change which entity it associates with the brand name. Check branded keyword rankings – if they dropped too, Google’s understanding of the brand may have changed. “Purple” as a brand name could be associated with the color or many industries.
Reliance on SEO Traffic
According to a Moz study, brands thriving long-term tend to have diverse traffic sources, rather than relying heavily on SEO. Audit traffic channels – are competitors gaining share via social, email, referrals? Improving brand awareness offline? Healthy sites often have around 30% branded search traffic. More could signal SEO over-optimization.
Negative Brand Sentiment
Recent Google updates aim to detect website trust and expertise. While unlikely the cause across two unrelated sites, if there’s recent negative press or social chatter about the brand, it could be a factor. Sentiment analysis tools can help assess this.
In summary, diagnosing the root cause requires a deep analysis of potential seasonal factors, Google’s SERPs, marketing efforts, competition, brand ambiguities, overall traffic sources and public brand perception. Isolate the timing of declines and dig into what changed in Google and with your marketing around then. Competitive analysis can also uncover if rivals are gaining ground via other channels. With smart detective work, you can likely uncover the true factors at play and resolve them to regain your branded and overall search traffic.
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