No matter how state-of-the-art your company’s website may have seemed when you first launched it, there comes a time when every site can benefit from a redesign. With the number of algorithm changes than happen each year, and regular shifts in consumer Internet use, it can be nearly impossible for an outdated website to deliver the online results you need.
If you’ve recently launched a redesign, you were likely excited to see the results of your revamped site, like increases in traffic, conversions, and sales. And when done right, this is exactly what happens.
Unfortunately, it isn’t always the case – in fact, some site owners actually lose site traffic in the days and weeks following their website redesign.
If you’re currently experiencing this issue, keep reading for 3 possible reasons, as well as how to fix them.
And if you’re considering redesigning your site in the future, we’ve also included 5 tips for avoiding traffic drops altogether.
Causes for traffic drops after a redesign
First, it’s important to note that minor traffic drops are completely normal for a few days following a redesign. If it’s been less than a week, and the decline is less than 10%, you may have nothing to worry about.
Google needs to crawl and index all of your new pages in order to serve the new versions to their users, so you should expect a temporary decline in organic traffic.
That being said, if it’s been more than a few days, or traffic has dropped off drastically, there’s likely a bigger issue at play. And if that’s the case, you’ll want to inspect the following three elements.
One of the most important steps in a website redesign is setting up proper redirects – and skipping this step is one of the most common causes of traffic loss.
Unless you keep all of your URLs exactly the same (and recreate each of your old pages on your new site), redirects are absolutely necessary. They tell search engines and browsers where the new version of each page is located – and without them, they’ll simply think the page is gone.
If you changed your URL structure or moved any pages to new locations, but didn’t set up proper redirects, this is likely the main cause of your traffic drop.
And if you’re not sure if this is the issue, you can log into Google’s Search Console, then go to Crawl > Crawl Errors and select the “Not Found” tab.
If there are any pages without redirects on your site, they’ll show up here.
In order to fix the issue – and regain your traffic – you’ll need to implement 301 redirects for each of your old pages. Then, if you don’t have any other issues, your traffic levels should be back to normal within a few weeks.
2. Site structure
Your site structure plays an important role in how Google indexes and understands your site, so if it drastically changed during your redesign, you’ll need to create a new sitemap.
Your sitemap provides a basic listing of all of the important pages on your site, and you can submit it to Search Console to speed up the process of re-indexing your pages and restoring your traffic levels.
In addition to your sitemap, you’ll also want to revisit your internal links. The links within your pages (especially your navigation) play an important role in how Google indexes your site. If some – or all – of these point to outdated URLs, this could also cause crawl issues.
3. Site copy
In some cases, website redesigns also involve entirely new copy. And while this can be helpful if the copywriter was aware of and incorporated the original target keywords, it can be extremely detrimental if not.
If your pages are no longer written in a way that includes the keywords they originally ranked for, your rankings will suffer for those keywords. Google’s algorithm is designed to provide their users with the information they’re looking for – and if your site no longer has that information, they won’t show it as a result.
The best way to fix this issue is to work with an experienced SEO who can optimize your pages for your target keywords. And if you have a backup of your old site saved somewhere, you can use it to determine which keywords to use on each page.
How long it takes for traffic to return to normal levels
If your traffic dropped as a result of one of the issues above, you should make it a top priority to remedy the problem as soon as possible. That being said, your traffic likely won’t come back overnight.
It may take a few weeks for Google to crawl and re-index all of your new pages, and until they begin ranking in search results again, your traffic will be lower that usual.