Why Is Google Traffic Down In April 2023?
May 9th, 2023 by
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.
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:
- 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.
Zero click Serps are up again. The amount of spam Google is throwing on Serps continues to grow unabated.
— Brett Tabke (@btabke) May 5, 2023
Next was Susan Staupe, LocalU Superfan and a great marketer in her own right.
Im seeing organic and ads down across the board! ugh.
— Susan M. Staupe – Beyond SEO, LLC (@SusanStaupe) May 5, 2023
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.
Yup – Zero-click or a Google-mediated click, where they send to Product Knowledge Graph/Merchant Center/Doorway pages.
— Cindy Krum 📱 (@Suzzicks) May 5, 2023
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:
why did you include my post about an unconfirmed update from this week (i.e. May 2023) in regards to a traffic drop in April… If anything, maybe it is related to the April 2023 reviews update (which I assume you know about?) https://t.co/buiUYyh0FU
— Barry Schwartz (@rustybrick) May 5, 2023
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.
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.
Thanks for the analysis. Two of my websites were recently penalized and almost 80% of traffic went down even before the April Start. However, after some researching, I found that the decline in 1 site was caused by Slow Speed & Poor Core Web Vitals. But for the second website, I am still not sure what was the cause of the ranking decline.