Web design is not a static field. Standards, expectations, and trends are changing, prompting companies to update their websites to better appeal to today’s customers. A website redesign can improve user experience, increase traffic, and make a stronger impression on visitors.
But not all changes are going according to plan. Launching a redesign can sometimes result in a significant drop in traffic due to a variety of factors. Why is this drop happening, and what can you do to recover from it and regain your previous search engine optimization (SEO) rankings?
We’ve dealt with companies panicking when their traffic plummets after a site upgrade. The truth is that these crashes are not uncommon and fixing them is a regular part of website maintenance.
The circumstances of the drop in traffic are not always clear. Luckily, there are online tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console that can track site performance both before and after a new design is launched.
1. Track statistics
You can gain valuable insights by comparing the following metrics:
- Total number of clicks
- Keyword ranking
- Click through rate (CTR)
- Past URLs
This helps determine the scale and timing of the fall. Was the decline permanent or sudden? Have you lost organic or non-organic traffic? If the answer is the former, then perhaps the redesign is to blame.
2. Page analysis
Many statistical trackers allow you to see the performance of individual pages on your site. Check out these landing pages and see if they perform worse or better after the redesign. One rule of thumb is that every landing page should have valuable content. Anything devoid of useful information will simply encourage visitors to switch off.
Check Common Issues
Once the information has been analyzed, you are ready to act. Let’s deal with some of the typical pitfalls of website redesign.
3. Compare content
Content is more than just text on a page. It includes components such as:
- Page titles
- Titles , which determine how search engines know what your site is about.
- Meta descriptions , short annotations under your site’s entry in a search engine. This significantly affects the click through rate.
- Don’t change literally everything during a redesign. Perhaps the old part of the site worked fine, and you should not change what is not broken.
4. Double check redirects
Page URLs may change during a redesign. However, many users may already bookmark your old site, and backlinks from third-party sites will become obsolete. This is why most companies use a redirect from the old URL to the new one.
5. Make sure no page is missing.
The worst page for a new visitor is the 404 page. Chances are that the web designer skipped a page or two and the result leaves a bad impression on both visitors and search engines. It’s worth checking out the sitemap and making sure everything still exists.
Diagnosis of technical problems
SEO Services Company recommends doing an SEO audit of your site to find the little details that were overlooked in the redesign process. From crawling issues to indexing issues, there are several ways to ensure that a search engine continues to select a website correctly even after major changes.
6. Review the Robots.txt file.
Robots.txt is a text file that instructs web robots how to crawl a website. Search engines use them for indexing. It is in the website’s interest to allow these bots to come through and make sure they are authorized to do their job.
7. Reduce download time.
Websites with too many large items can take too long to load, causing many users to disconnect. Because website redesigns tend to be more complex than previous versions, companies need to consider page load times. For this reason, Google Analytics has a section called Behavior > Site Speed.
Consider Google Features
Google is by and large the most popular search engine. How Google handles website rankings has a big impact on many businesses and how websites are displayed to the public.
8. Track changes in the Google algorithm.
Google decides how it ranks websites on the search page with an algorithm that can change over time. These changes may cause fluctuations in the performance of your site. Since algorithm updates are rarely announced and often have minor effects, web designers need to stay up to date with the latest SEO Company strategy news.
9. SERP Updates
SERP stands for search engine results page. This is what a web surfer sees after entering a search query into Google. Previously, this page only included search results, but recently Google has added other elements that may distract potential visitors.
For example, Google may display snippets of certain websites in a more prominent way than others. YouTube videos can take up most of the screen. There is also a chance that sponsored results will take over the top of the page.
10. Manual action
While this is quite rare, Google sometimes blocks sites from their results in a process known as manual action. One way to check if your company site has been visited is to search Google for “site:” followed by a URL. If you don’t see any results, Google may have removed your ads.
You can also go to the Google Search Console, click on the “Security and Manual Actions” section, and see if there are any manual actions on the entry.
Look for external causes
Companies do not always have full control over their activities. External factors such as real events and competitors’ actions can be one of the reasons why a redesign doesn’t work well.
11. Changes in search queries.
It’s no secret that travel companies, airliners and passenger sharing services experienced a sharp decline during the COVID-19 pandemic, and online search volume in recent months has reflected this trend.
12. Actions of competitors
Most competitors can’t steal your traffic overnight, but over time, they tend to reduce it. While your business may be up and running in the redesign process, other companies may have taken over some of your attention in the meantime.
See what other companies are doing. Are their websites filled with better content? Do they have more backlinks? Do their pages load faster? Analyze their websites just as you would for your own.
Saif is the founder of SEO Company, a website design, e-commerce and digital marketing agency based in the United States. For over 20 years, he and his team have been helping clients with new online business creation, brand building, website design and e-commerce solutions. When he’s not working, he enjoys listening to music and walking his pet around downtown the United States.