Business and individuals usually decide to get a new shiny website to make a stronger impression, provide better user experience, and increase their traffic. However, not everything always goes as planned, especially if you don’t have plans, just dreams. Very often, after launching a newly designed website, your organic traffic tanks and the search engine rankings sink with it. While there are some precautionary measures to prevent this from happening, you are not reading this article because you are preparing for a website redesign, but because you have already done it, and something went wrong.
Do not worry; it’s not the end of the world. Here, you will find out how to identify the reasons for the loss of organic traffic, what are the consequences of redesigns going wrong, and, of course, how to recover SEO rankings and traffic after a website redesign.
Gather the Necessary Information
There are many tools that can help you collect information which could be useful for identifying the problem and, therefore, for solving it, as well. You will need access to Google Analytics, Google Search Console, historic keyword rankings, and historic or alternative URLs. You will also need to know the date of the launch and the website URL.
Review the Traffic drop
Search Console and Google Analytics will help you get a clearer image of the scope and gravity of the traffic drop. When analyzing the traffic via these tools, you should be looking for the very day or week of the redesign. You will notice either slow and steady decline or rapid and sudden decrease.
You should also pay attention to the difference between organic and non-organic traffic. If you notice the decrease in organic traffic, but the other channels are not affected, you can be sure that the redesign is the main culprit for the drop.
Understand the Losses
Before we move on to the road to recovery, you need to know why it is important to devote your full time and attention to this problem. For that, you need to understand keyword rankings and identify the most-affected pages.
If you have historic ranking data, you need to run these reports for an overview of the most important areas that are affected. In many situations, historic ranking data is not available, but you can find various SEO tools which allow you access to the data for the purpose of analysis. If even this is not an option for you, you can gather the employees who worked with keywords and ask them to remember which ones are used. It is not very precise and scientific, but it can be helpful when you have nothing better.
Landing page traffic is another loss which can do much harm to your website ranking. Use Google Analytics, to find out just how affected this traffic is. Select “behavior” option in the menu; go to “site content”, and then “landing pages”. This will give you the opportunity to compare the traffic some pages were getting before the redesign and after.
The thing you need to know if you want to get more visitors to your website is that every landing page needs to have content. No content equals no traffic.
If you have content on the landing page, but it still doesn’t attract visitors, then we might be talking about a technical issue here.
Common Problems and Adequate Solutions
There are many usual suspects for traffic drop after a website redesign, and each of them requires a different approach in order to be solved. Here, we’re going to take a look at some of the most common problems, and their respective solutions.
Missing or Misconfigured Redirects
When launching a new site it would be ideal to keep all the URLs the same and to redirect from the old page to the new page. You can check if you have done that by getting the URLs from the most read pages from the old website and try to visit them in a browser. If there is no redirect, then you haven’t done that part of the job well.
All high traffic content should be present on the new website, and the correct redirects must be in place. If a site visitor is looking for a certain page and all they get is “404”, the traffic will, naturally, drop.
Changes in Content
The new website doesn’t have to change everything, especially not the things that worked well in the first place. Sure, the content can be improved, but are you certain that is the case? Use the web archive to compare the old pages with the new ones, and you will have your answer to this question.
Let’s say that this http://yourwebsite.com is your old address. With the new website, you could have made changes to the protocol (https), subdomain (www), and domain. To address this issue, you will need to devote enough time to put together the redirects and pay attention to the domain, subdomain, and protocol.
Historic Domain Changes
The migration to the new website shouldn’t consider exclusively the future. It should also look back and comprehend all historic domain changes and redirects.
Sometimes, even if you’ve done everything we previously mentioned the right way, the traffic still isn’t coming. In this case, the origin of the problem could lie in technical optimization, which includes canonical URLs, crawl issues, indexation, and other similar technical aspects. To ensure the proper functioning of the technical optimization, you should perform an SEO and website audit.
The website optimization sometimes doesn’t make it “in one piece” from old to the new website, but this is only a matter of crawling the site and making sure all the basics are covered.
The Impact of the Website Migration
Moving from one place to another is not simple, and the size and complexity of the website can cause havoc in the process. Patience is your ally here, but so is checking and double-checking everything.
Other Less Frequent Issues
Despite a solid migration plan and doing everything by the book, unexpected problems still turn up, and you are not sure why you are losing traffic. Some of the things you should check in this case are:
- Is your analytics working properly?
- Was your website launched at the same time when a specific Google algorithm change happened?
- Maybe it’s simply not a good season for you (if you normally don’t have a lot of visitors during winter, it is not very likely that a new website will change that).
- Security issues can also cause a drop in traffic, so check for hacking notifications in Search Console.
Designing a new website is difficult as it is, without the additional problem of losing traffic. However, we are not living in the ideal world, and the Internet is far from being ideal. These things happen, and all you can do is to take it one step at a time and solve each of these issues. Good luck with your new website!