Understanding Traffic Drops After a Website Redesign
A website redesign is an exciting time for any business owner. It's a chance to update your look, add new features, and improve the user experience.
But what happens when your website traffic suddenly drops after it’s launched? Panic and confusion can set in – but don't worry; a drop in traffic is a common occurrence.
Understanding why and how traffic can change after a major website redesign is crucial. Once you understand the potential cause, you’ll be able to implement strategies to bring those visitors back or, better yet, attract even more.
In this article, we'll discuss why it can happen and share some tips on how to troubleshoot the issues – so let's get started.
Technical issues are the most common reason for traffic dropping off after a website redesign. Often, redesigning a website involves changing page URLs, which can lead to broken links and redirects, which can negatively impact your ranking and result in a significant drop in traffic.
To avoid this type of issue, perform a thorough technical audit before your new website goes live.
10-Point Technical Checklist
- Functionality – verify that all your forms are working correctly and that any calls to action buttons are being displayed in the appropriate places.
- Code changes – check for code conflicts that could be affecting your website's performance.
- Compatibility – make sure your website’s optimised for different devices and browsers. Compatibility issues could be causing difficulties in how your content is loading or displaying.
- Updates – ensure you’ve updated all scripts and plug-ins.
- Hosting – see if there’s been a change in hosting providers after the redesign, as this can affect page loading speeds.
- Google-friendly – check if the changes have made it harder for search engines to find, index, and crawl your pages. Use Google’s robot.txt Tester to help.
- Page Speed – monitor page speed performance and use Google PageSpeed Insights to make sure your website’s not suffering from long load times or slow response times.
- Analytics – check your website analytics to identify and correct any latent issues that could be preventing visitors from returning. You can use the new GA4, Google Search Console or Bing Webmaster Tools to help.
- Tools – run a crawl of the website using free tools like Screaming Frog to identify any problems.
- Tracking Code – finally, check that all your tracking code is still in place and working correctly.
Poor User Experience
Another reason traffic might drop after a website redesign is poor user experience (UX). According to Google UX design experts, “well-designed user interfaces see a conversion rate of more than 200%, with 88% of online consumers being less likely to return to a site after a bad user experience.”
So this is something you need to get right. A redesign should improve the user experience by making it easier for people to find what they’re looking for. If the changes make the website confusing, difficult to navigate, or frustrating to use, it can drive potential customers straight into the arms of a competitor.
To avoid this, conduct user testing before the website launches. Get feedback from real users and make changes based on their experience.
SEO is integral to website traffic. If you don’t optimise your redesigned website for search engines, traffic will drop. Before launching, perform a comprehensive SEO audit to identify potential issues like non-indexed pages or duplicate content and include a 301 redirect policy to transfer existing page authority and visibility to new pages.
If you don’t have time to keep up with SEO tasks after the launch, outsourcing the work and investing in a monthly SEO package can help ensure traffic isn’t lost and get you back on track. Read our How Long Does it Take to See Results from SEO? for a realistic timeline of what to expect from an SEO campaign.
If you’ve made changes to your content, like removing pages or adding to or altering content to fit in with the new layout, it can lead to an immediate dip in traffic if it’s not optimised for search engines.
If you remove a page that was ranking well in search results or change the content of a page that was driving traffic, this can also lead to a drop in your number of visitors. To avoid this, analyse your website's traffic data to identify which pages are driving the most traffic and avoid making significant changes to those pages.
Another thing to bear in mind is that it takes time for search engines to understand and index new content. On average, it can take up to 4 weeks for Google to notice a new site or spot changes to an existing one and in the future this may take even longer as Google is considering reducing the frequency of webpage crawling to reduce its carbon footprint.
Lack of Proper Planning
A redesign requires proper planning. If you rush, it can negatively impact your search rankings and user experience and may lead to significant website downtime.
To avoid this, make a plan that includes a detailed timeline, expected outcomes, and an outline of the redesign process. Then gather your team together and make sure all stakeholders are on the same page.
So yes, a website redesign can lead to a drop in traffic, but the good news is that it’s not permanent. With the right strategy and implementation, you can make sure your revamped website is a success. Just remember to keep an eye on performance metrics, monitor page speed, analyse analytics and tracking codes, and take a comprehensive approach to SEO. Do this, and you’ll help increase your website's visibility in the SERPs and provide users with an exceptional experience.
Get In Touch
Don't let a temporary drop in traffic hold you back from achieving your website's full potential. If you’re thinking about refreshing your website or need help with your SEO, our expert team are here to help. Get in touch to learn more about our range of website and SEO services.
Author: Helen Culyer