Why Would Organic Traffic Drop After A Website Redesign?
When you’re considering a website redesign (or in the midst of one), be prepared: there may be a dip in your organic traffic. Your revamped and redone and redesigned website is just one step in the very long (and oft-changing) game of search engine optimization, or SEO. Before you begin to grow organically, the traffic may drop just after you redesign your website.
Now, not everyone’s traffic drops. But if your organic traffic downturns for more than a few days or a few weeks after your website redesign, it’s a good idea to investigate.
Common reasons for an traffic drop after website redesign:
- Crawling and Indexing: Google takes time (not too long) to crawl and index new pages and reevaluate new content. And until the crawling and indexing is complete, your new pages won’t show up in the SERPs. If the website structure and content (and URLs) are mostly the same, and only the design is changed, this won’t make as big of an impact. For example, if your About page is no longer up, and you’ve changed it to Why Us (and the URL is different), Google will reindex the new structure and reevaluate the content. It takes time to build “trust” back up with Google. If your pages are user-focused and your SEO strategy is in place, this could be a minor bump in the road.
- Algorithm Update: If Google happens to change the SEO algorithm at the same time as you launch your website (which would be relatively rare) that can affect how the site is ranking.
How to Prevent Organic Traffic Drops
It’s okay to have a drop in traffic for a few days post-launch. Yet, it’s easier to avoid a traffic drop than to fix it. (An ounce of prevention, you know the rest.) At Solid Digital, we focus our attention on three things to maintain steady organic traffic after website redesign:
- Redirects: We’ll redirect from old pages to new pages (e.g. an About page that redirects to the new Why Us page); the old page will still show up in search for a period of time. Implementing redirects will allow the client to capture the traffic with similar content.
- Preserving valuable content (site copy): If there are pages that drive most of your organic traffic (and you’re doing well in search) we’ll work to keep, for example, valuable blogs if they’re still applicable.
- Focusing on good site structure: If the site architecture brings good traffic based on data from Google Analytics, SEM Rush, and Google Search Console, we’ll be sure to keep the structure similar—and keep your most valuable pages (traffic-wise) close to the home page to maintain SEO standings.
What to Do After a Drop in Organic Traffic
If, after you’ve worked towards keeping your traffic steady post-launch, a drop still happens, there are a few things you can do. First, evaluate. Next, gather data. Finally, make some decisions.
HOW TO FIX A TRAFFIC DROP
Sometimes, you can’t predict it or prevent it. Try taking one or some or all of these actions to help right the ship and boost your traffic:
- Post new content: Ensuring you have a regular schedule with content that’s helpful for your ideal audience can help with traffic. Sites that are regularly updated (with applicable content) within a Blog or Resources page will give Google more reason to recommend your site. Aim for new, informative, and longer blogs.
- Be strategic with keywords: Pick your best options and create content around those keywords. Read more on priority keyword mapping here.
- Site Audits: Occasionally, it will be helpful to monitor your site with an audit to ensure there aren’t any new technical errors that are undermining your SEO efforts.
- Analyze backlinks: Clean up your backlinks or disavow them with Google (telling the crawlers to ignore specific backlinks) as needed.
- Before and After: Go into Google Analytics to see your 5-10 top pages’ traffic patterns. It’s possible an irrelevant blog was removed during your redesign that brought in traffic (that didn’t have a good click-through-rate). If conversions are low, a temporary traffic drop is okay to have.
- Headings: Investigate if H1s and H2s are set up and optimized so that SEO and design details are balanced out.
Finally, do a double-check: If you see a large traffic drop that’s far-reaching (a 40% drop for all 10 pages, for example) investigate the website structure—are there redirects missing? Do you have technical SEO problems? Make changes and continue tracking.
BEYOND TRAFFIC NUMBERS
It can also be helpful to think bigger than organic traffic—other marketing efforts can help fill in the gaps. For example, with new services, features, or products being shown on your new website, the drop in traffic could go down, but the click-through-rate could go up because you’re now offering what people are looking for. PPC and paid search can also help boost numbers in the beginning. Running new campaigns can help offset a possible drop in traffic. You can either have it running as soon as you launch, or see if there’s a drop in traffic before turning on a ready-to-go campaign.
Additionally, building marketing efforts around your new website launch—email campaigns (with added email lists) or a LinkedIn post can help make up for a temporary drop in traffic.
WHEN TO GET HELP
If after a few weeks your organic traffic numbers still haven’t gone up, call for help (if you haven’t already). With Solid, we’d reevaluate, rescan everything, and run a full site audit to see if there are any issues on the new site. We’d identify which pages were getting traffic before and not getting traffic now. When comparing old and new page design and content, it can indicate where things possibly went wrong.
With all of our website clients, we schedule a post-launch review a few weeks after launch, looking at the site structure, ensuring no SEO errors have been introduced, and reviewing the overall traffic using Google Analytics. Sometimes we’ll see a major uptick in traffic, especially with companies that have combined domains, or with larger companies that have employees jumping on the website to review the new site navigation. After we review the data, we’ll create a report to show the traffic patterns, whether it’s a drop, increase, or has stayed consistent. We’ll also go into Google Search Console to ensure there are no major errors and that both the XML sitemap is read by Google and the site is crawled.
Traffic Drop? The Bottom Hasn’t Fallen Out.
Don’t freak out if you see a dip. Brands wouldn’t redo their site if it wasn’t worth it in the end. Stick with it—and think about the journey (the user journey). Your website must be users-first to improve your conversion rate; SEO is secondary.
After you launch your site, look at metrics. Then dig into the data (the why behind the numbers) and make the next best decision. For our Digital Growth clients, we create a report so we can understand what steps to take next. If the website is not doing well (less than 1000 clicks/month) but the traffic is coming from elsewhere, another campaign, you’re still drawing leads in. If you are doing well in search, we’ll take a look at where the valuable traffic is coming from. Our Digital Growth program helps ensure you’re moving in the right direction by tracking metrics including monthly organic traffic—alongside the number of keywords ranking in the top 20 and the number of new content pieces created each month.
Also: build out your content. Websites should never be static, if you want to grow your organic traffic. After we’ve completed a website launch with our clients, there’s always cause to celebrate! But there is ample need to maintain your website after a redesign, too. Websites are not a slow cooker in which you add all the ingredients, set a timer, and come back to find perfectly successful marketing.
Even though your website may have changed, your competitors are the same—it’s your brand and solutions against their brand and solutions (especially if you’re trying to rank for the same keywords.) As your competitors change things, that will impact your rankings as well. Be continually revamping and reexamining to keep traffic up and maintain peak SERPs positioning.
If you need a sort-of-secret weapon, reach out to Solid Digital for extra help with boosting your traffic after a redesign.