Drop in Traffic May be Caused by URL Theives

Webmasters and search engine optimizers constantly watch out for sudden drops in web traffic. This can have a devastating impact on the bottom line. These days there is a new and growing culprit in traffic drops that has nothing to do with Google algorithms or how your website ranks. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports that cybercriminals are targeting business websites. The thieves are misappropriating actual domain names. This can cause a significant and immediate drop in traffic.  Read more about of our SEO blog here.

According to the WSJ, ShadesDaddy.com fell victim to such cyberthieves. The company’s web traffic had plunged 80% from its usual level of 10,000 visitors per day. Turns out a cyberthief had diverted their web address to China. ShadesDaddy.com was offline for 11 days and lost approximately $50,000 in revenue. The owner was able to regain administrative control after proving he was the lawful owner.

Fortunately, this is still a relatively small problem. ICANN, the nonprofit that assigns domain names, said it has gotten more than 140 complaints about domain-name thefts in the past 20 months.

Why steel a domain name? They may be held for ransom, resold, or used to try and access personal information about the domain name owners which is then used for phishing emails.

So if all of a sudden you see a steep and dramatic drop in traffic, you might do a quick check to see that you still have control over your domain name. Then you can look at the other usual suspects like a major algorithm update and take appropriate corrective measures to regain your ranking and your traffic.