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Sudden Drop in Conversions: How & Where to Troubleshoot?

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Top Contributor
# 1
Top Contributor

Do you agree that conversion is the primary goal for almost any business advertising online? Yes, That's right. Our entire marketing strategy circles around it. No matter what kind of conversions we aim, be it newsletter signups, enquiry form submission, phone calls, whitepaper downloads, sales or something else similar, it’s the most important aspect of our marketing campaigns.


But practically, there’s hardly any fixed set of rules or techniques which can assure you of a certain number of conversions, not merely with AdWords but with any marketing tool available so far in the history of marketing.


Yes, this is why marketing is a challenging game. But I am sure if you are a true marketer, you must be enjoying every bit of this characteristic, obviously like I do.


Moving ahead, you would agree that there are times when you are more than happy with your conversion rates, but then there are occasions when you struggle to keep the conversion graph pointing upward, or at least constant and horizontal.


You may sometimes find the graph going almost steep vertically.  Eh, it’s not something to share, it’s something to enjoy at. Been in this situation?


Take my pats on your confident shoulders please!


But there can be instances when you may find sudden drop in conversions. It obviously can be a matter of time and efforts if you know how to bring it back. But it can be more of a frustration if you do not know where to dig and what to do. Agree?


Be assured, you are already on right track as you were happy with your conversions earlier. The only thing you need to do is to know the reasons behind such sudden drops. Once you get to know these reasons, you will be all set to tune in your campaigns again.


Moreover, AdWords’ system is advanced and comprehensive enough to let you dig into the exact reason for such decline in conversion rates.


So, without much ado, let me take you straight to the main point – how and where to troubleshoot sudden drops in conversion rates?


Check if your conversion tracking codes are intact and working properly


I consider it the first thing to start digging into. Navigate to your website’s page where you have installed conversion tracking code. Install Code Inspector plug-in from Chrome Web Store and check if your codes are throwing any error. If it indicates errors, go to fix them.


Look into Search Impression Share Metrics


You can look into Impression Share (IS) reports to check if you have lost on your usual impression shares.

There are mainly four metrics you should look into based on your campaign types. They are Search Lost IS (Rank), Search Lost IS (Budget), Display Lost IS (Rank), and Display Lost IS (Budget). But to be able to view it all, you will need to customize columns. Let me tell you how you go about it?


Click Campaigns from the top navigation bar, select a date range for at least a week, and now go to the left navigation panel and click on All Online Campaigns. Now go to ‘columns’, click ‘customize columns’, head to ‘Competitive Metrics’, and add Impression Share options to the main view. Hit save and now you will be able to see IS properly.


Campaign Management – Google AdWords2.png


To have an even better view, click the campaign name in the left panel, and click to enable graph view. Now compare Search Impressions Share with Conversions to get the real picture.


Campaign Management – Google AdWords3.png


If you find an increase in Lost IS (Budget), try increasing your daily budget, at the same time if your find increase in Lost IS (Rank), work with your ads, and increase bids.


Review your ad copies and CTR


If whatever I said above hasn't helped you get to the root cause still, it’s the time you should review your ad copies and check their click through rates.


Using graph view you can very easily get a visual representation of your CTR data. Do you see a decline in it? If yes, get ahead to work with your ad copies. Make them more targeted and relevant to your keywords and landing pages. Try adding a new version of ad with more suitable and compelling ad copy. This way you can compare the performance of ads over time and can find the best performing ads as well.


So, what did you find in the analysis so far? Has you CTR declined even when you are ad copies are fine enough?


If yes, you should also look into your ads' average positions. Besides ads copies and expected CTR, a poor landing page experience may also cause a drop in your ad ranks. But the question is – Can the rating for landing page experience decrease over time (even when you do not do any change to the website)? 


The answer is – yes.  Your landing page experience is not fixed forever in a way that if you achieve ‘above average’ rating once, it will stay forever. There are several factors affecting it and it can change over time. I will discuss in detail about it in the next section.


Re-analyse your landing page experience


Landing page experience is the key aspect of conversion optimization. Even when your campaigns are tuned to perfection, a poorly optimized landing page can ruin the entire strategy.


There are some key aspects about landing page that you must look into:


  1. Is your landing page’s speed fast enough?
  2. Is your landing page optimized for different screen resolutions? Does it have a responsive layout?
  3. Does it carry forward the message that your ads are talking?
  4. Is your message/purpose clear? Does your landing page make the purpose clear above the fold of the page?
  5. Is your landing page accessible from different locations, devices, and browsers?
  6. Do you have Call To Action set up?
  7. Is your landing page competent enough? I mean, does it go in line with your competitors’ offers, prices, and unique selling propositions?

Okay, how may Yes did you get? You should get at least 5 of 7 to call your landing page optimized enough.


Now let me take you back to the question I discussed earlier. Can the landing page experience be worse even when you do not make any changes to it? The answer is Yes. Let’s take an example to understand it better.


Consider a situation when your hosting provider your website’s CMS faces technical problems and it forces your website to take more than usual time to load completely. Now if it continues for a longer period, AdWords can decrease your landing page experience dramatically. In some cases, if your landing pages take way too much time to load, your ads can get disapproved as well. I have seen such instances in the past.


Another instance can be for a scenario where you changed your keywords and ad copies to make your campaigns more targeted and aligned, but you did not make any change to the landing page accordingly. In such cases as well, you can experience a decrease in landing page experience. Why? Because relevance of your ads and keywords to the landing page is also very significant.


Hence, it all eventually may add to lower ad ranks and lower conversion rates for your campaigns.


Take note of decrease or increase in seasonal search trends


Yes, seasonal or festivity factors can affect search trends dramatically. For instance, during Christmas the sale of gift items, home décor items etc. may see a significant increase, but at the same time, the sale of services like website design, or items like books can see a decrease.


You would agree that a decrease in overall search volume for a given period can obviously decrease conversions, but how about an increase in search volume? Don’t be surprised, even an increase in search volume can affect conversion rates badly. How?


Suppose a business sells gift items for age group 16 to 35. During valentines, it notices an increase in impressions but a decrease in sales. The reason is - as most of the advertisers get more prone to become aggressive with bidding, throwing offers, and discounts to lure new customers, you be lagging behind. If the business in question does not optimize its campaigns accordingly, it will definitely be left behind in this increased competition and hence, will get lesser number of conversions.


Play detective and browse news, social media and reviews websites


There can be instances where a brand comes in the news for wrong reasons, it will obviously affect its traffic to the website and hence would affect conversions as well.


To be sure of it, play a detective and search for your brand, product/services on Google News, Social Media Websites like Twitter, Google Plus, Facebook etc. and make sure that there’s nothing wrong there.

Also, if your business happens to get reviewed negatively for any reason and that review link starts ranking in Google’s organic search results or on social media, you are bound to see an adverse effect on your overall number of conversions. So, keep an eye on it and act accordingly.


Analyse Search Term Report and use proper negative keywords


Click your campaign name in the left navigation panel and head over to ‘Dimension’ tab. Now select Search Term from the ‘view’ drop-down. Make sure you have selected at least a week of data range.

Check search terms reports and try to find if you notice any irrelevant search query(ies) trigging your ads and receiving clicks. If this is the case, use such irrelevant terms as negative keywords to make sure that your ads are being seen by targeted audiences only.


To sum up, I would say that the reasons for sudden drops in conversion rates can be many, but thanks to advanced reporting system of AdWords if you dig deeper into data and align your campaigns accordingly, you can not only find the problematic areas but can also get ahead to do the remedy in time.


All the best!


If you feel I have missed or if you would like to add something, please feel free to post it in the comment section.


Ratan Jha

7 Expert replyverified_user

Warning: AdWords interface instructions or screenshots in this thread may be out of date as we move to the new AdWords experience.


Re: Sudden Drop in Conversions: How & Where to Troubleshoot?

Top Contributor Alumni
# 2
Top Contributor Alumni

Well Done @Ratan-Jha Smiley Happy


Keep up the good work.


Tom Wilson
Freelance Adwords & Google Shopping Consultant

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Re: Sudden Drop in Conversions: How & Where to Troubleshoot?

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# 3
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Thank you so much for your feedback @Tom_Wilson.  Smiley Happy


Ratan Jha

Re: Sudden Drop in Conversions: How & Where to Troubleshoot?

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# 4
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Great Article Ratan!!
You have covered everything in the article.
--Rakesh Kumar, AdWords Top Contributor , Twitter | Linkedin | Community Profile
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Re: Sudden Drop in Conversions: How & Where to Troubleshoot?

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# 5
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Thank you @Rakesh Kumar .  Your feedback is valuable. 


Ratan Jha

Re: Sudden Drop in Conversions: How & Where to Troubleshoot?

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# 6
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Superb article here Ratan, definitely one to bookmark for when conversions aren't looking good Smiley Wink

ScottyD, AdWords Top Contributor
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Re: Sudden Drop in Conversions: How & Where to Troubleshoot?

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# 7
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Great article Ratan-Jha, well done!



AdWords Top Contributor Google+ Profile | Partner Profile | AdWords Audits

Re: Sudden Drop in Conversions: How & Where to Troubleshoot?

Top Contributor
# 8
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Thank you Scott and Jon for your encouragements. 

Re: Sudden Drop in Conversions: How & Where to Troubleshoot?

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# 9
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Nice Job Ratan!


Although it may not always be a reason for a sudden drop (more often a steady decline) in conversions can be due to new or increased competition - even outside of seasonal situations.


Are there new advertisers that are very competitive in the same advertising space? Auction insights and simple Google searches can help you identify this. Also, not only new competition but more aggressive existing competition. Perhaps a previously lower ad position competitor, who was managing their account internally, has recently hired professionals to manage the account. Along with this, they boosted the overall account health and added some more aggressive bidding and budgets to the mix.


As you pointed out, there are a number of factors that may be part of the reasoning behind drops in conversions, just wanted to share one that I try to look for.



Tommy Sands, AdWords Top Contributor | Community Profile | Twitter | Philly Marketing Labs
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Re: Sudden Drop in Conversions: How & Where to Troubleshoot?

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# 10
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Hi Ratan,

Great Article! Looking forward for more such great content from you! Thank you for sharing.

Neha Gupta, AdWordsTop Contributor Follow Me: My Blog | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn
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