Why Is Google Traffic Down In April 2023?

May 9th, 2023 by Will Scott

Update from the “Correlation is not Causation” file.

While investigating more, I noticed this in Google Search Console. A client who has historically had consistent #1 ranking for a specific phrase showed significant volatility in the last month. That volatility roughly coincides with the finalization of the March Core Update.

Maybe March Core Update Impact - Correlation is not Causation

Original Post: May 5th, 2023

On a monthly basis, we look at various data for some, not all, clients to include in what we call “Highlights and Insights,” or H&I as I like to call them.

Among the things we look at are:

  • Traffic
  • Ranking
  • Pages getting traffic
  • Recent work (i.e., deliverables)
  • SMART goals, if applicable

I have personal responsibility for the SEO strategy of a small number of clients. I know it’s funny — the CEO is doing SEO strategy. But, with maternity leaves, hiring, research and development, and personal relationships, it’s important to me.

This means I’m responsible for three clients’ H&I. I was surprised as I was preparing them to see that their April 2023 Google organic and paid search traffic is universally down month-over-month.

So I wondered, is it me? Are we doing something wrong? But, no.

It turns out that all of them have seen increases in ranking, both in our keyword tools and in Google Search Console. We’re also seeing individual pages we’ve been optimizing or promoting get more prominence relative to the site as a whole.

I feel a little bit vindicated.

So I took my confusion to Twitter.

The first to chime in was Brett Tabke of Pubcon fame.

Next was Susan Staupe, LocalU Superfan and a great marketer in her own right.

And I was reminded of Cindy Krum’s presentation at the recent Zenith Conference in Duluth, where she talked about Google features pushing her client out of the entire space above the fold during the World Cup for Football (aka Soccer) related searches.

So, of course, I mentioned that, and Cindy contributed.

And finally, though he gave a “hard to say” on this one, Barry Schwartz suggests this may be related to the April 2023 Reviews Update:

I previously embedded a post to an unconfirmed, and Barry believes unrelated more recent update.

Thanks, Barry for setting me straight.

I’m glad to have some corroboration of our experience and validation from industry experts.

But what else could it be?

Maybe, as Greg Sterling suggests in Near Memo, Bing is winning.

Or perhaps, for “I’m wondering” kind of questions people are going to ChatGPT.

The masses know about ChatGPT — the headlines are everywhere. And as I showed in my AI content presentation at Pubcon and Zenith, Google Trends data demonstrates that ChatGPT is in the consciousness of everyday Americans.

Is ChatGPT Eating Google's Lunch?

Who knows?

I’m just glad it’s not just us, and I’m hopeful Google gets its act together for the sake of all those businesses who rely on that traffic.

And our outlier — because there’s always one — Lawn and Garden. It’s springtime, you know.