How Do You Recover Lost Traffic? Plus, February 2023 Reports

By Kimberly


At our house, I’m the go-to expert for finding lost things. Kids can’t find their shoes? Ask mom where they are (they’re in the shoe bin in the closet – where they go, thanks). Can’t find the ketchup in the fridge? Ask mom where it is (it’s in the fridge door by the BBQ sauce). But when you’re a website owner trying to find lost traffic – that’s not usually a quick answer a mom can give you. Unless she happens to be a fellow website owner.

Recovering lost traffic requires deep honesty and introspection. First, find out why the traffic has declined. Fix any issues or problems. Upgrade the content if needed. Focus on quality content and a good user experience. Wait and see if traffic recovers. If not, look for another problem to fix.

The “quick fixes” don’t work in these cases. At least, they don’t, in my experience. Instead, it takes detective work, patience, time, and a good understanding of analytics (usually Google Analytics coupled with Search Console) to diagnose and fix the problem. Then, it takes more of the same to see if your fixes were right – or if you need to dig into things again. Let’s dig into this in more depth (while keeping this article from becoming a book!) before looking into my monthly reports.

How and When Do Sites Lose Traffic?

Sites lose traffic for any combination of reasons:

  • Out-of-date information
  • Incorrect information
  • Seasonality
  • Another site publishing better information
  • Reader’s preference changes
  • A better presentation format has been used elsewhere
  • The user experience is suffering (so users go elsewhere)
  • Search algorithms have changed (usually improved)

For example, if a website has the best information but is so large and clunky that the information doesn’t load on the reader’s mobile device? Well, then nobody’s going to visit that website because it doesn’t load. That’s going to cause a loss of traffic.

Information can also become out of date or incorrect. Say you wrote an article about a product – and it’s been replaced with a newer model. Only your article doesn’t talk about that – and someone else’s article does. Your article is now out-of-date, and the more accurate article will do better.

This is all generalities, of course. That’s because digging into specifics depends.

Many people focus on my last reason: search algorithms have changed. Usually, they change for the better. As a user, my internet experience tends to improve over time. So I’m not too upset over the fact that, sometimes, that means my sites lose traffic as the search power improves. It’s generally a net win for everyone.

In those cases, sites are typically losing adjacent or tangential search terms. Thankfully, each of these issues has a fix.

How to Identify and Recover Lost Traffic

The best way to recover lost traffic is to identify any issues, fix those problems, provide real value to users, ensure a positive user experience, and see how things go.

Many gurus and SEO specialists I’ve heard talk about how you’ve got to follow exact checklists to succeed. In my experience, that’s not 100% true.

Here’s what I’ve found to be true.

  • Doing the SEO checklists can help good content perform better. That part is true.
  • Using the checklists might help mediocre content do better.
  • Stressing about SEO checklists and hacks will never help poor content rank.

Here’s a table of how to, generally speaking, fix the problems that cause traffic loss. This will help traffic recover over time.

Traffic Loss ReasonHow to Identify the ProblemFix to Recover Traffic
Out-of-date informationTraffic loss to old, not-updated articles.Update your article and its information.
Incorrect informationTraffic loss to an article where information is dated.Correct the information.
SeasonalityCompare current traffic trends to Google Trends.Wait for the information to become seasonally relevant again. Reevaluate then.
Another site publishing better informationTraffic and ranking drop.Update your article and its information.
Reader’s preference changesIndustry-wide drops to traffic; rank may or may not change.Keep up with reader preferences and market trends; adapt as able.
A better presentation format has been used elsewhereIndustry-wide shifts to other mediums.Add new media options to your article (video is awesome!).
The user experience is suffering (so users go elsewhere)Traffic drops, rank drops, and time on the page drops. Readers bounce off the page more.Fix your site to make it a positive user experience.
Search algorithms have changed (usually improved)Drop in traffic; rank for main search terms may remain unchanged.Write on-point articles; update those articles as needed. Write new articles as needed.
Table 1: How to Fix Lost Traffic Issues.

Currently (and for the last 10-ish years), Google Analytics and Search Console have been the industry standards for keeping track of these data points. I use and recommend those; I also use Microsoft Bing’s Web Master Tools console, as it’s also helpful.

TLDR: To find, identify, and fix traffic issues, you need Google Analytics and Search Console. You need to know how to use them. Treat identification and recovery efforts as a learning and growing experience rather than a cause for panic for best results.


Treating this as part of the process (rather than a cause for panic) will mean you’re best positioned to keep going in this industry. Plus, you’ll have a ton less stress then.

Nothing lasts forever; everything ebbs, flows, grows, decays, and keeps going. Just like this really pretty tree with its winter bark peeling away to show the spring bark. The tree could panic about losing the bark – but that won’t help. Instead, it’s focusing on moving forward and letting go of what didn’t work. Find what works in your industry or business. Go with that. Know that things will change, and go with it.

Speaking of going with it, let’s dive into the reports next!

February 2023 Portfolio Report

Just like last month (you can see that report here), if I were to only look at these specific numbers, I’d be bummed. I’d consider jumping ship ASAP. However, these numbers aren’t all that matter. They’re good to track, though. So here they are.

Month to month

  • Publishing: +5%
  • Traffic: -14%
  • Revenue: -4%

Year over year

  • Publishing: -4%
  • Traffic: -43%
  • Revenue: -29%

Year to Date

  • Publishing: -41%
  • Traffic: -4%
  • Revenue: -37%

But wait – why track Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) if they aren’t the best metrics? Because they’re what gets reported industry-wide. It’s weird.

I’m regularly working towards finding better, personalized KPIs for my business.

  • Not long ago, I discovered that sessions alone (while being a decent tangential, possibly-correlative marker for ad-based revenue) aren’t the best way to track traffic.
  • Pageviews, another way to track traffic, are also not the best indicator.
  • Looking at both together, though? That’s some magic, even if I don’t fully understand it. I don’t know if it’s the final answer, but seeing and tracking is cool.

I’m working with Renee (of Data-Driven Operation) to identify and track my best KPIs. Because following the data is how you improve and grow. You can’t learn and grow by ignoring the truth; you have to find it, accept it, and keep going. Do I have all the answers yet? Heavens no. But I’m making progress.

In any case, on to the obligatory data and timeline recap:

  • I started blogging in 2013.
  • I joined Income School’s Project 24 in 2019.
  • Going from $0 to $1000 monthly took me 26 months from implementing the Income School style strategy.
  • Going from $1000 to $2000 for the first time took another 4 months.
  • Getting to above $2000 monthly consistently took another 3 months.
  • Months since I first hit $2,000/month: 14 and counting.

In the summer of 2022, the revenue hit its highest mark and stagnated and declined. Part of that is due to seasonality. Part of it was due to some traffic issues. I’m focusing on fixing those issues – one step and a piece at a time. The sessions haven’t completely recovered yet – but the page views are recovering nicely. See? Magic.

February 2023 Site Report

The sites are coming along well. Here’s their progress.

Site A

  • Gardening
  • New posts: 8
  • Total posts: 317
  • Monetization: Ads + affiliates

Site B

  • Parenting
  • New posts: 0
  • Total posts: 131
  • Monetization: Ads + affiliates

Site C

  • Genealogy
  • New posts: 2
  • Total posts: 70
  • Monetization: Ads + affiliates

Site D

  • Writing
  • New posts: 1
  • Total posts: 36
  • Monetization: Ads + affiliates

Site E

  • Sports
  • New posts: 3
  • Total posts: 57
  • Monetization: Ads + affiliates

Site F

  • Entertainment
  • New posts: 4
  • Total posts: 19
  • Monetization: Ads + affiliates

Site G

  • Home
  • New posts: 2
  • Total posts: 22
  • Monetization: Ads + affiliates

Site H

  • Educational
  • New posts: 2
  • Total posts: 16
  • Monetization: Ads + affiliates

The entertainment site technically doesn’t have ads yet, but it is in the application/approval process with AdSense. It’s been in this process for a few weeks, but I hope to get final approval soon.

So, Where Did Your Traffic Go?

Some of my previously best-performing posts had lost traffic, rank, and reader time on the page. This led me to look at user experience. I found a massive issue, corrected it, and am giving the pages time to recover. Page view traffic is recovering, but session traffic lags behind.

I fully expect these pages to continue to recover over time. As search engine algorithm updates continue to improve user experience, they have lost some tangential search traffic. That’s okay – I have many articles to write to fill that informational gap.

Now, that’s just 2-3 articles so far. I’ve still got others to diagnose. This isn’t a fast process – but it is getting easier. Remember how I said I’m working with Renee? She is a data analyst who also runs websites, so she can build visual, data-driven tools that help.

I had to dig into data without her to find the problem on one of the pages. And even then, there was a lot of intuition and guessing to find the final problem. But I fully expect the tools she’s given me to help me find, identify, and fix other traffic problems as I continue in the online marketing world.

What was the problematic user experience issue? How did you fix it?

I’ve so far fixed two problematic user experiences: a weird ad-related issue and the other related to site speed. Both required changing some settings and experimenting over time to get better results.

Most of my sites use Ezoic as their ad managing partner. I’m generally pleased with their services. I am, however, an accidental expert at finding very bizarre software issues (bugs). The issue was related to either a bizarre issue/bug or some setting that had been accidentally flipped by one of their reps.

I’m inclined to think it was a bug, as it was affecting all of my sites. Here is the issue: Ezoic’s WordPress Plugin lets you use some HTML markup to distinguish where different sections end, so they can see where to insert ads. It asked for a standard definition of what markup was a paragraph (usually signified as <p>). However, my setting not only had the usual paragraph HTML markup but also the HTML markup for lists there.

So the issue was that ads were getting inserted into my lists, making them unreadable. Thankfully, it was an easy fix and my Ezoic rep was with me every step of the way. I removed the <li> markup from the settings, flushed my cache (so that it would dump that bad user experience), and gave things time to settle down.

Again, this issue was across all of my sites on Ezoic, but it was an easy fix. The rep agreed it was likely a weird bug, as most settings didn’t include the HTML list markup.

Another issue I’ve been working on fixing is site speed (AKA “core web vitals”). Some of my sites had poor LCP scores, so I’ve been working to fix those. They weren’t hugely problematic, but the pages were slow-loading enough to be annoying. I tested hosting to see if that was the issue. I also adjusted the settings in my Ezoic LEAP dashboard (Ezoic provides some cool caching and speed options).

The process took some learning and testing – but I’ve made significant progress to a quick-loading site and an enjoyable user experience. I’m not chasing any scores – I want the site to load fast enough that users can enjoy it. And it’s definitely at that stage. I’ll continue to monitor it and make changes as needed.

Now, before anyone reading this jumps to conclusions about Ezoic being the problem, let me point out this fact. Ezoic gives me a lot of tools. They’ve been a great partner. They’ve generally got decent-ish support, and my personal rep is great (no, you can’t have her).

  • Do I think all of their reps and support understand their tools? No, I don’t. The ones who do know are amazing, though.
  • Do they do a good enough job explaining how and when to use each setting? I don’t think they do. However, there are so many possibilities of setting combinations that I don’t see a realistic way they could do that. However, they need to do it. That’s on them.
  • Do you need a decent tech understanding to figure out Ezoic? I don’t think you have to be a specialist, but you do have to be willing to learn. Using Ezoic can be a steep learning curve. But they are also a fantastic option for folks who need many tools and an advertising partner without a relatively high minimum traffic requirement.

In any case, it’s time I dig back into the data to see what I need to do next – beyond publishing great content. That’s always the #1 thing to focus on. Don’t forget to check out my recommended resources below. Including Ezoic – they are a good group to have on your team, even if things aren’t always 100% perfect (they never are).

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