The time always comes when your company’s website needs to be refreshed. Getting updates installed and a redesign put in place can, and should, be an exciting part of seeing your business progress. However, it can bring with it the worry that your site’s search result positions won’t benefit from the changes made and the work might even have an adverse effect. Here is how to avoid potential website traffic drops and fix them if they do occur.
First of all, it’s important to remember that small traffic drops are completely normal for a few days after a site relaunch. A drop of anything up to 10% in the first week is not a cause for concern. It takes a little while for Google to crawl and index each page of your new site in order to serve the new versions to their users, hence a temporary decline in organic traffic is expected. If this continues after a period of 7 days or the decline has been dramatic, then it’s possible that there’s an issue which needs resolving.
Check for problems which could be causing the website traffic drops; there are 3 typical and potential culprits: redirects, site structure and site copy.
Be sure to check that your redirects have been set up correctly as failing to do this is the most common reason behind a decline in traffic. If you’re not keeping all of your URLs the same (exactly) then redirects are absolutely essential. To check this, simply log into Google’s Search Console then select ‘crawl’ and then ‘crawl errors’ before clicking the ‘not found’ tab, this is where you’ll be able to see which pages aren’t being redirected. Your site structure could also be a cause for a drop in web traffic after a redesign. If your sitemap has changed drastically then it’s worth uploading an updated version to Search Console to speed up the process of re-indexing your pages, thus restoring your normal traffic levels. The final thing to check is your site’s copy. If your copywriter has not weaved the same keywords into your site content as before (which should be based on proper key phrase research) then your rankings for those terms will change and are likely to drop.
If any of the above scenarios have affected your site’s rankings or the amount of traffic it gets and you work to resolve it quickly, it may still take a few weeks to be resolved. They’re all important things to bear in mind when doing a redesign. The following are also useful tips to refer back to if a re design is on the cards for your business website.
SEO needs to be an integral part of the process. Being advised by an SEO specialist is a smart thing to do. They will be able to stop you from losing out on your usual traffic and might even be able to give you some help to ensure that your site is visited even more by your target audience after the redesign. Just like we did for Pinks Vintage Ice Cream and Pudding Fairy.
Remembering to transfer everything onto your new site may sound like a simple task but it can easily go slightly wrong. If you forget a few key details which users of your site once found valuable, it’s likely that they won’t use your new site more than once after realising the content isn’t the same or can’t be found. There are many different online tools which help you capture the content from your old site so you can put it straight onto your new site, preventing your existing audience from losing any faith in you.
Broken internal links in your new site can lead to website traffic drops too. When checking your new site, click through every link just to check that they’re all working as they should be. Even if you are just updating to https, you will need to do this. It’s a tedious task but one that shouldn’t be underestimated.
It’s also paramount that you set up your analytic tools before you put your new site live. It’s something which can be overlooked and then cause you to think you’ve completely lost your sources of traffic – something you want to avoid stressing about! All you have to do is make sure that the right tracking code is embedded into every page, that way you can monitor your traffic every step of the way.
Losing out on traffic to your site, especially after spending time and money on a re design can be really frustrating but it doesn’t have to be. Next time you consider changing your website, have all of the processes in place in advance or at least have a task checklist so you can rest assured knowing a drop in traffic is highly unlikely and if there is a temporary lull then you’ll know what to do.
Have you experienced a drop in website traffic after a site redesign before? Talk to us in the comments below and let us know how you dealt with it.
Rachael Dines, Director of Shake It Up Creative