Check for a manual penalty.
First, you’ll want to check for a manual penalty. It’s rare and highly unlikely that you’ll face a manual penalty from Google, but it’s the most identifiable root cause of the problem. If you are facing such a penalty, your organic traffic will steeply and instantly drop, and you’ll receive a notification in Google Search Console saying that your site has been penalized.
If you don’t see both of those signs, you’re probably in the clear. But if you have received a penalty, you’ll need to correct the problem that caused it, such as bad or plagiarized content, or spammy, “black-hat” optimization tactics. Then you should appeal the penalty with Google or wait for it to be lifted.
Pinpoint specific traffic drops.
If you aren’t facing a manual penalty, your next step is to determine the main areas of your traffic drop. Though your entire site may be experiencing a cumulative drop, it’s more likely that the drop can be traced to a handful of specific pages or specific keyword terms.
You can use this information to guide the rest of your examination; if there’s one page for which traffic has disappeared, for example, you can narrow your focus to that page’s competition, links, and content, as you’ll see in the following sections.
Examine the competition.
Next, take a look at your competition and how it may have changed in the past few months; this is especially important for startups in new industries, tech companies, and any other business where the competitive landscape can turn on a dime.
To do this, examine your search positions for various keywords, and see where you’ve experienced a drop in rankings. If you have, are there any new competitors that have emerged on the scene to displace you? Have some of your older competitors recently stepped up their game, with better content and new inbound links?
Note that there are two potential effects here. First, your competitors may be investing more in their own SEO campaigns, outperforming you in the process. If this is the case, your main course of action will be to invest in more head-to-head competition or to target different, more specific terms, if you want to avoid competing altogether.
Second, your own site could have declined for other reasons, giving your competitors the opportunity to improve their positions. You’ll be able to determine if this is the case by studying your performance in two key areas, link-building, and onsite content.