When you are building a new site, improving your organic traffic and SEO must be an important design goal. It needs clear knowledge about how website design and SEO work together as well as careful planning for your website migration. Suppose everything is done rightly, you must retain (improve) traffic and rankings. Unfortunately, in a real world, it isn’t what happens, the website launches, organic traffic falls and panic sets in. For most of the business owners where loss of the organic traffic means leads and sales slowdown and their business comes at a risk. It’s very important to know that all isn’t lost and in most of the cases, there’re some usual suspects responsible for the traffic loss. Here, I will cover how you can recover and diagnose rankings and traffic when the site design gets wrong.
Collecting Information while Website Redesign
We do not need much here but in the perfect world we will want the following:
• Google Search Console
• Google Analytics
• Website URL
• Date of launch
• Historic keyword rankings
• Historic and alternative URLs
Now it is time to dive in the Google Analytics & Search Console to review your traffic drop. So, what we will look here is the drop starting a day and week of your redesign. This drop can be slow or steady and often the sudden and stark decrease.
Your first point of contact must be Google Analytics:
To confirm the big drop in your traffic we will look at the organic traffic or various channels. Suppose we see any organic drop or other channels are unaffected, then it indicates that redesign is a culprit here. Suppose you have the Google Search Console or keyword ranks then these all can be reviewed in helping you to confirm your date of the drop.
Understanding any Losses
Before we hope to improve certain things we need to know the losses to help us in the analysis & remediation. In order, to do that we have to get a better knowledge of the keyword ranks and pages that are highly affected.
Suppose you have got historic ranking data, it is very important that you run the reports and get the overview of certain key areas where the positions might be lost. Where the historic keyword ranks aren’t available, popular SEO tools will provide the historic rank data for the analysis. On the other hand, the website owner typically will have the idea of what important keywords they have used for ranking –it isn’t scientific but will give you an idea.
Landing page traffic
It is very important to compare your traffic before and after:
Suppose we have some weeks (and longer) as the migration we will compare to its period prior & see which web pages were generating maximum traffic. This is tricky as many times page names get a change in the redesign. Thus, you need to identify these pages that ranked & received the maximum traffic and compare this to your new website. In the worst case, we will find content and pages that were there on the earlier site but hasn’t been made on a new website. Suppose content exists on a new website but is not getting traffic then we will look at the technical issue. Suppose this is the large site, then it will help to put such information in the spreadsheet so that you will match up your new and old pages for simple reference.
Make 301 Redirects
You have to ensure that you do not want to take out any of the pages that are really doing well. Suppose you must then ensure you inform search engines about the change by setting 301 redirects. Suppose you do not implement 301 redirects you may drastically kill down your traffic by around 94%. Keeping the organized list of the old page URLs and new page URLs is very important and can help you in importing 301s in URL Mapping tool, and favorite WordPress Redirect Plugin.
Block Your New Website From the Search Engines At Staging
When you have the proper game plan on what your new website architecture will look like, it is the right time to design & get your new website built. Ensure your business development team set up the new website on the staging environment or platform meant to test that resembles live environment without even launching the web pages. It’s very important to have the staging environment so you are not messing over with the live site & prematurely set the pages live or having the search engines index to duplicate your content. Suppose you’re building your site, then there are 2 ways you can do it. Suppose you’re setting up the website for the first time, you may create all pages in Website Add-On. Suppose you are working on WordPress, then also you can create the staging environment. It depends on where the website gets hosted.
Creating your new website in the content staging environment will be the best practice as it allows you to have the full working website, which you & your team will test for the issues before you launch it. One important thing you can do when the staging environment is set up and put “No Index and No Follow” in it. You do not want Google to find your staging environment & marking it as the duplicate content. It can create a bigger mess in cleaning up when you take the new website live.
Double Check in Staging
When everything gets built, try to run Screaming Frog at staging environment to ensure that you are not missing and have duplicate H1 and H2 tags, meta descriptions, and title tags. When everything looks perfect and you haven’t just run a few SEO tests but did the internal Quality Assurance to ensure the website is responsive & works in different browsers, it is the right time to take your site live.
After everything looks good in staging, when you set the website live, there’re many things you have to do to make sure you maintain SEO.