These days, even small businesses realize the importance of investing in a great website. Seasoned players know they will have to redesign their website every few years to keep offering better customer experience. But everything does not always go according to plan, even if you don’t believe in Murphy’s Law. Often times, a redesigned website comes with a sharp and alarming decline in SEO traffic. This can be shocking considering how thanks to services like Optimum internet, almost everybody is online. This blog explores why.
SEO Traffic Dropping on Redesigned Website – Why Did it Happen?
Let’s say you just bought a new website for your domain. You invested in a decent, state-of-the-art website based on a new architecture. Your website focuses on your customers’ journey information and user data. It seems like just what you need to get a digital edge over the competition, right?
The problem comes when you log in to analytics a few days after your website went live. This is when shock hits you at how dramatically your Google traffic has dropped since your redesign. You start to panic, wondering if there’s anything to show for all the hard work you have put in. You want to know why your traffic has dropped when the whole point of the redesign was to improve it. In most cases, there are three reasons why listed below:
- Problems with Website Redesign SEO
- Issues with Integrating SEO into the Complete Redesign Process
- Problems in SEO Transition Planning and Execution
Before we examine these reasons and how to fix your dropped Google traffic, let’s examine the traffic itself.
SEO Traffic – What You Need to Know
There is one thing you need to come to terms with as a website owner. Every time there is a major, or in some cases even a minor, change to your website, your traffic will decline. Generally, this is because Google needs time to re-evaluate your website with new content and design.
Typically, you see a drop of 5% to 7% with a redesigned website. This happens while Google re-evaluates your website and updates how it ranks it. But if you get a decline of more than 7%, you may need to consider examining your SEO efforts.
Provided your website falls in the range we saw above, your traffic levels should be back to normal in a few weeks. If that does not happen, you need to comprehensively analyze your website. Now we can move on to examine what may be wrong with your redesigned website.
Problems with SEO Traffic after Website Redesign
Let’s say your website traffic decline did not fall in 5% to 7% the safe range. Or its been several weeks but your traffic shows no signs of returning to normal. You may ask yourself why this is happening. As a general rule, there are 4 very common reasons for this dramatic decline since you went live.
No 301 Redirects
When redesigning a website, redirects are one of the most important considerations. Redirects send users to the new page you designed. Redirects also signal Google to rank the new page rather than the old page. There are 3 important things you need to know about redirects
- If you have recently had your website redesigned, make sure there are 301 redirects for all new pages.
- Each redirect should take a user from an old page to a new page, not just the new home page.
- If 301 redirects are not in place, Google will reset the ranking on the new pages. Because the old pages are already 404 and not part of the rankings, you will lose SERP rankings and traffic.
New Site Architecture
The way your pages link together and organize to form your website is known as site architecture. Google crawls all pages and links, and the value it attaches to each page passes through internal links. Google will assign the value (or more or less of it) to a page based on the site hierarchy or organization. Pages that link to important pages like the home page or category pages get more value.
When you change the site architecture, your new pages could have less internal links. Or they could be linked to pages with less value to pass. The new hierarchy may cause some pages to lose the value Google assigned to them. This causes the page to lose its score, and adversely affect your search engine rankings.
Changes to Website Copy
Changes in your website copy are not minor grammatical changes, but major ones. For example, changes to the primary or secondary topic of a page. This will obviously also involve changes to the copy of that page. When you get your website redesigned, most of the time, your copy will also get an update. This is to make sure you get more conversions with a copy aligned with the new design.
When you make major changes to the copy, Google will re-evaluate if the new copy is still relevant to the targeted topic of the page. If not, your relevancy for that page will drop, which in turn will lead to a drop in rankings and traffic. Changes like the removal of priority keywords from key areas can result in such a situation.
Sometimes, a redesign can result in what we call a content gap. This often happens when a redesign involves removing pages to improve the customer journey. In some cases, this restructuring of the website can create gaps in content and topics. With the pages that were removed or deleted you also lose the rankings, you earned from this. This causes your traffic to drop.
Lowering the Risk of Reduced Traffic
Many businesses make the mistake of bringing in an SEO strategist very late in the website redesign process. SEO is a strategy, and it needs to be a part of your initial planning. Unfortunately, many businesses bring in strategists once the planning is over, the design approved, and the content written.
Minus an SEO strategist, your redesign strategy will only likely target paid traffic. Or at most, people who visit your website by directly typing in the URL. It does not focus on retaining customers or increasing organic traffic. You need an SEO strategist right from the get-go. An experienced strategist will advise you to focus on the following areas:
- Researching and strategizing: You need to pay special attention to website and satisfaction audits as well as competitive analyses. You also need to analyze the content, map keywords and plan the transition from an SEO perspective. You will also need a content management strategy, as well as knowing how to structure and organize it. You will also need to research and come up with a mobile strategy.
- Content optimization: You need to carefully plan out and optimize your content. This involves analyzing your content brief and the message you want to give to your audience. You need to come up with a winning content strategy and then execute it.
- Design considerations: Your SEO strategy should also focus on aligning your content with the new design. At the same time, your SEO strategies should be user focused. You need to employ best practices to align your SEO with the new design as well.
- Website Analytics: To keep the risk of reduced traffic low, you need to regularly examine your website analytics. You should have systems in place for monthly reporting and analysis. You also need to assess website performance on a quarterly basis. Finally, you need to insist on the development of a custom SEO dashboard to make analytics easier. After all, if you are managing it in house, you can expect to call a convenient number and get assistance like Optimum customer support (1-866-977-8129). Make the job easier on yourself.