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Google Analytics Traffic Declining? Here's What You Look At

By Paul Berry

We've been working with publishers a long time and we frequently hear from clients panicking at a sudden decline in Google Analytics traffic. (Btw, you may also be seeing the decline in Chartbeat, if that's your preferred analytics tool -- we love clients that rely on Chartbeat's real-time numbers and know where they should be at any hour of any day of the week.)


In my experience, 99% of media traffic problems come from ad tech and third party JavaScript calls. JavaScript calls are what stitch the web together. That's awesome, but the reality is that the Javascript fiber is no Kevlar, or even a good sturdy cloth. It's frail and easy to break, and the tangle of JavaScript libraries being called together in a page can quickly conflict with each other.

When those numbers drop, that directly impacts your business. So it's important to understand what to look at when this happens. Here is how you keep a cool head, take steps to diagnose the problem, and be prepared to fix it.


Check Platform Health on RebelMouse

You can check status.rebelmouse.com or check in with an Account Manager. If your website is loading normally and your real-time analytics and GA traffic are showing a decline, then there's something more to dig into. If RebelMouse is having some type of issue, we'll pro-actively provide you with email updates.

While you may want to blame the platform, it's actually very rarely a RebelMouse problem. We find that we're typically helping our clients untangle the way their ad tech, analytics and any custom JS combine together. Ad tech is always breaking the delicate Javascript mesh that keeps the internet together (apart).


Check Your Network Tab and Javascript Console in Chrome While Loading Your Website

If you want to actually understand what's happening this will tell you. It is the first thing our team would do. You can actually read way more than you thought. We know, it's really nerdy, but it's the year of the nerds, right? So try looking at this link and reading through it, you would be shocked how much power this information gives you:

https://developers.google.com/web/tools/chrome-devtools/console/

BONUS: Use it in mobile mode where, almost surely, all your traffic is. Find out what's breaking your sites.

GUESS WHAT? The ads broke it. They always do. See if that conflicts with any core analytics calls or if it's creating issues with Facebook etc.


Chase Down Bad Ads

Some ads that are served through the networks are really horrible. They do things that will get you banned on Facebook, who has no way to know the difference from you, innocently trying to monetize your content, and the horrible scammer spammer. So that bad ad that traps a user - it's on you. You have to talk to your ad networks. Think of it as talking to an airline in the Denver airport on New Year's Eve, when all the flights have been cancelled. Be charming and determined and relentless. Maybe use more reputable ad networks. But remember, even the best networks get hacked and spammed at times.


Review Ad Blockers

Some people get fancy activate ad blocking in their Google ads manager. Ask your ad ops team if they have played with those settings. You can check it yourself through the JS console and in view source:



Review Your Lazy Load and Load Priority Settings

If you have been playing with page load optimization settings (i.e. figuring out which components to lazy load and how to prioritize JS components) then suspect any of those changes are responsible. Where you place the Google Analytics code and how you prioritize it on the page will 100% effect the reporting totals.

It's always better to load the ad scripts in a sync mode so they're not blocking the page rendering and you have a great page score in Google PageSpeed Insights. You can always check your page score here at https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights

e.g.:

-OR-


Check If Facebook Instant Articles Is Activated and Works

In Google Analytics, in real-time, you can go to Traffic Sources and see Facebook Instant Articles. Is it a healthy number? By healthy, I mean a significant portion of your traffic?

Because that where the audience is. If you are doing it right, you have a lot there. If you don't, then get a little paranoid about whether you should be turning it on. And if you thought it was on, check your articles on your phone - do they have the lighting icon and go to Instant Articles. Check in with an Account Manager if not.


Find Your Google WebMaster Tools and Run a Systems Check

If you don't have access to and aren't set up to own your Google webmaster tools, then welcome to the best (or the worst) part of the Internet .

This is webmaster tools:

https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/home?hl=en

You might need this:

https://support.google.com/webmasters/?hl=en

Run through to check if you are being indexed, crawled, if there are errors and if AMP is registered / working.


Reading Your Real Time Better

1 - Check your traffic sources. Anything missing? Some big normal traffic source suddenly gone? Find out if you have a particular source that has gone down. Normally it's seen as a decline in Facebook because Facebook is the biggest source of traffic.

2 - Check Facebook insights and messages and notifications. Did you get a bad ad that blocked you? Did a viral post get banned because of copyright reports? Go dig into any Facebook messages and your Facebook insights.

3 - Check your top post. Check them in developer mode in Chrome, and in mobile. Is something off? You can isolate craziness there quickly.

How to Include Interactive Elements in Posts

Enhance your articles with rich and creative media

Every article is a fresh chance to grab new readers and nurture loyal followers. This is why we give creators every opportunity to build content rich with media elements that enhance every reader's experience.

Add More Layers to Your Content

You can easily add interactive elements, like charts, to posts on our platform. For example, if you need to embed iframe code into a post, this can be done via our Add Media Bar. To do so, click the code icon (< >):

A text box will appear so you can insert your code:

Embedded Code Across Platforms

One important thing to keep in mind is that Google AMP, AppleNews, and Facebook Instant Articles will not always support embedded code. So if you use an iframe, it's best to turn off distribution to those channels for that particular post. If you have a lot of posts that require embedded code, this could be problematic for growth across those important platforms.

If you do want to use an iframe on a post destined for Google AMP distribution, it can be possible if the iframe is not at the top of the page or within the first 75% of the viewport when the page is scrolled to the top (whichever is smaller). AMP is a fast technology designed for mobile users and iframes are loaded using arbitrary timing that AMP's technology cannot ensure. For this reason, it's suggested that iframes be included in places that are not visible by users upon load.

If you have an article that needs to include an iframe at the top of the page, or within the first 75% of the viewport, AMP can be turned off for that individual article within Entry Editor.

If you don't need an interactive chart to be interactive in nature, can turn it into an image and upload it directly to your post. This way it will work on all platforms, including Google AMP, Apple News, and Facebook Instant Articles. This option, when possible, is ideal to ensure you're optimized for page speed.

Take Advantage of Shortcodes

Another great way to embed media is through our shortcodes functionality. Click here to learn more about shortcodes. Shortcodes can also inserted using the Add Media Bar. Click the brackets icon ([ ]) to choose the shortcode you want to use.

Here's an example of a chart on an article page that's been inserted using a shortcode:

If you have any questions about how to add interactive elements to your content, please email support@rebelmouse.com or talk to your account manager today.

Shortcodes Dashboard: Dynamic Media in Just a Few Clicks

Create multidimensional content with easy-to-find shortcodes

We believe static media is dead, and that every piece of content should be multidimensional and engaging. This is why our platform enables creators so they can add dynamic media to their content in easy and efficient ways.

One simple way to add interactive content to any post is through the use of shortcodes. Shortcodes are small snippets of code that are easier to remember than longer sequences. They typically will activate a feature or embed media into an article.

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