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How Can I Recover My Lost SEO Keywords & Organic Traffic?

If your rankings dropped, or you cannot find the keywords driving traffic to your pages in Google Analytics, this post walks you through fixing both.

How Can I Recover My Lost SEO Keywords & Organic Traffic?

Arun from India writes:

“How can I recover my lost keywords and organic traffic?”

Great question! I’m going to answer this in two parts.

The first is how to identify the keywords or pages that fell in Google search, and the second is diagnosing the problem.

  • How to find the keywords you lost SEO rankings for or pages that fell.
  • Ways to start diagnosing the problem.

1. Missing Keywords in Google Analytics

In this scenario, you have someone trying to figure out which keywords are driving traffic and what the result is.

It could be page views, conversions, new traffic from new keywords, or any other KPI.

You also have pages that lost traffic.

The page could still be ranking but one keyword variation dropped and it was a big one.

Other times you ended up losing a featured snippet but are still on the first page (and vice versa).

Or a map or local pack is now appearing above the first result.

Either way, I’ll help you find which keywords point to the page, which ones slipped and the impact on revenue/conversions.

Open both Google Search Console and Google Analytics.

  • Go to Google Analytics and start at Acquisition > Overview > Organic Search. Select Landing Page in the center of your screen, and then the Conversion Item from your drop-down to the right of it if you’re looking for an impact on conversions.
  • Set the Secondary Dimension to Acquisition > Source.
  • This should now show you Google next to the pages and you can filter by Google only.
  • Now set the date range you are looking for. You could also do a comparison period.
  • Now go into Google Search Console and navigate to Performance > Pages.
  • Set the date range or comparison of dates that you have above.

Here is the fun part.

  • In Google Analytics, look for the page that got the increase and is showing the increase in conversions. Now find it in Google Search Console.
  • Click the page in search console and click on the queries tab.
  • Now you have a list of the keywords and the date you started ranking for them. You can normally match these up with the listings in Google Analytics and you now have your answer on conversions and traffic gains or losses.

Bonus tip: If you add in the average position by selecting the box for this page and in the comparison screen, you’ll see which keywords fell on this page specifically and you can begin diagnosing them as they are the cause of the gain or loss.

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That leads to the second part of this post.

2. Diagnosing the Problem

If your pages fell, or you lost keywords it can be any number of things.

There is no single solution to every problem and without knowing your website and the issue I cannot answer this for you.

I can however help you with some starting points.

Ask yourself these questions when diagnosing an SEO traffic loss or gain:

  • Was the traffic coming from Google News and is your content now stale or old?
  • Check the links pointing to your page/website. Did someone launch an attack?
  • Did an entire category, your entire website, or a single page lose traffic?
    • Does that page still have other keywords sending traffic to it?
  • What are the page speed, user experience, and content of the new pages showing up for the main keyword phrases like? Can you make yours better than theirs?
  • Look to see if your website got hacked and what was impacted by the hacking.
  • Bad practices may have also caught up to you, especially with links. These include bad link building strategies like:
    • Private blogger networks
    • Badges and certificates
    • Scholarships for .edu links
    • Paid links
    • Run of site do follow banner ads and advertisements
  • Did you forget to remove disallow from robots.txt and/or accidentally add a meta robot noindex?
  • Have the way the search results are displayed changed? Is there now a video on top, a carousel of products, or a local pack? You may still be in number 1, but it is down the page where nobody sees you. Now you need to optimize more media types.

This is how I start to troubleshoot if I don’t have more information.

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I hope this helps.


Editor’s noteAsk an SEO is a weekly SEO advice column written by some of the industry’s top SEO experts, who have been hand-picked by Search Engine Journal. Got a question about SEOFill out our form. You might see your answer in the next #AskanSEO post!


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Adam Riemer

Adam Riemer is a long time online marketing veteran. With more than 10 years of experience in SEO, Ethical Affiliate ... [Read full bio]

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