If your website has suffered a loss in organic traffic, it is entirely possible that sites and or pages on the web can suddenly seem to lose Trust Flow and/or Citation Flow. If you do not yet understand these metrics, then you might first like to watch this short video on Understanding Flow Metrics.

Also – I STRONGLY urge every customer to start using tracking reports for any site you are seriously interested in, because then you will know EXACTLY the date that any problem occurs and this makes it easier to diagnose what happened.

Here are 10 things that MIGHT have caused your loss of organic traffic

1: Your site lost a very important backlink

People underestimate the power of “One big link”. In the storms on the south coast of England in 2014, one railway line collapsed into the sea. As a result, a huge swathe of the South West was effectively annexed from rail travel.

2: A site, some links away, lost a very important backlink

Every station on that branch line also lost all value when that line went down. It doesn’t matter how many other bits of railway linked these annexed stations, they had no route to London. So in short, it might not be a link that YOU lost, but it might be a link from a page that, itself, lost a lot of Trust Flow.

3: Did a Link Network block our bot?

If you rely on link equity from a set of sites that are within one person’s (or one group’s) control, then you will always be on slightly rocky ground. Flow Metrics wise, if that network suddenly thinks it is clever to block our bot, we can still see the Trust Flow into that network. However we have no way to see how that Trust Flow is distributed within the network and therefore we cannot see the value of any links coming out of that network. Whilst this is most likely to happen with black hat networks, there are many other examples… a large conglomerate may affect a large number of influential sites at their server level, for example.

4: Content Marketing is Transitory

URLs relying on links in stories on influential blogs lose their Trust Flow (and Citation Flow) very quickly. That is because the home page of a blog is usually worth a lot, but as soon as the story gets buried in the blog, with no link from the home page, the flow dries up really fast. Many URLs on Mashable have HUGE Trust Flow, but (until I linked to it) this one had none (but a CF of 19 at the time of writing). By contrast, the first TF of the home page of Mashable.com is up around 70. That is a HUGE Trust Flow.

5: Did YOUR site go down?

If your site goes down, then the longer it is offline or inaccessible, the more the potential damage. Blocking our bot is a different signal to a server side 500 response (Other factors fit into this category… basically any server side reason why we cannot access your site other than a polite robots.txt message. A 500 response means that we were unable to reach the page for a server reason. This will mark the link as broken and stop the Flow Metrics. This means that over time the Flow Metrics will recover, but this can cause fluctuations in Flow Metrics.

6: Did servers on your strongest links go down?

As above… But much more likely to cause fluctuations, especially with sitewide links.

7: Did the links go “No Follow”?

We do not pass Trust Flow through NoFollow links. If someone decided to NoFollow links on another site, the effect will show up further down the line.

8: Did someone try Link Sculpting?

This is a very difficult thing to do right, because crawlers do not instantly crawl and update indexes… So if a site tries to change and manipulate links on a page, then they will need to give quite a bit of time for crawlers to fully understand the new effects.

And now the things that might cause the biggest TF/CF swings..

9: Something changed in our Circles of Trust

If your Trust Flow went from something really high to zero, or almost zero, then most likely you or a site very close to you was in our initial circle of trust. If you are an established website, then the effect is likely to be minimal – but sites that have relatively few referring domains, from an ultimately limited set of influencers will be affected most. Here the effect can be huge, because our understanding of your site’s position in the world has fundamentally changed. We do not disclose our circles of trust, but we do not ultimately control its content in any way.

10: A DNS Server went down or got corrupted

A domain name resolution failure seems to cause the biggest seismic shift in our support tickets system. Sometimes there may be nothing that changes to your physical site, server or links – but there are many other reasons why a link or set of links cannot complete. One of the most severe is when a DNS server goes down. A DNS server helps to correlate a web domain with an IP address. There are many DNS servers in the world, so it is not always clear which one is checked when your browser looks up a web address. Google has their own at and Open DNS is another popular one. Usually your computer settings decide where you look first to get this lookup. Our crawlers could use any DNS system, but ultimately all the domain data will route back to your settings in the system you used to manage your domain name. Now – if a DNS table is either corrupted or down, this can have a huge (though usually temporary) effect on both users and crawlers on the web, because typically millions of domains are affected for millions of users. Think of it as the railway line being fine, but the signalling equipment having a critical failure.

And there are more

Seen any other good reasons that you want to share, we are interested in your thoughts in the comments.


  • Dixon Jones

    The Fresh Index has now updated, and it does look like the Trust Flow has recovered for most sites, which does suggest a DNS outage somewhere on the web may have been the cause and that it was a transitory effect.

    Now here’s an interesting question… if you see a big change in Google SERPS (Mozcast is saying 80 – highest on their chart) then Google may also have been affected! That suggests that the serps changes would not have been due to an algo change. Interesting huh?!

    June 16, 2015 at 2:51 pm

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