The website redesign looks great. Now … what happened to our traffic?
When a company launches a redesigned website, everyone expects that the investment of labor and capital will produce not only a better-looking site, but also an enhanced user experience.
They also expect improved web traffic – particularly traffic from organic search. Unfortunately, sometimes the exact opposite occurs.
Why this happens is because of two important factors: relevance and authority. When marketers decide to redesign an existing website, making changes to page names and page content can confuse search engines.
Because the old site was “trusted,” it’s important to make sure this “authority” transfers to the new site. That requires certain specific actions to be taken:
Study current organic search drivers
What has driven organic search traffic to your existing site? What areas may be underperforming? Work to fix any weak aspects of the current site now rather than waiting, as this will give the new site a better launching point.
Look at your site architecture
This includes both graphical sitemaps (a visual representation of site structure) and detailed sitemaps (a hierarchical list of URLs) – and make sure to submit a detailed sitemap of the new hierarchy to Google after launch.
Page mapping (301 redirects)
Map as many pages as you can at the page level, as well as pages at the directory level. This will help you maintain the old page authority (ranking power) of these pages with the launch of the new site.
Factors at launch
Additional steps can be taken at the time of your website launch. You may discover instances where crawling by search bots isn’t as thorough or as immediate as desired. Make sure you have the resources and tools to monitor and correct issues that may arise such as drops in traffic to specific content areas, pages that aren’t being indexed, and “404 not found” errors.
While search engine traffic may not be the most glamorous part of a web redesign project, it is vitally important. It really is necessary to “sweat the small stuff” to make sure your site doesn’t lose organic traffic. Make sure to commit the resources to assure that this aspect is just as successful as the impressive new design and the improved user experience.