Your traffic, is your lifeblood. For a business with a website that creates customers, traffic is cash.
Some people assume that website designers all know enough about SEO to prevent cataclysmic traffic loss, but they don’t.
In fact, some of the things that some website designers value (for example: less text, more images and changing site navigation for aesthetic reasons) can hurt your rankings directly.
Website redesigns can be good- they can be necessary sometimes to improve branding or other issues- but there are limits to what you can do if you want to keep your traffic.
And anytime your page names, folder names, site structure or domain names changes, there are specific things you must do to keep your rankings and traffic.
The Top 11 Causes of Search Ranking and Traffic Loss
- Drastically reducing the number of pages in the site
- Reducing the amount of text on the site, replacing it with images
- Changing text copy based only on marketing considerations without considering keywords
- Increased page load times
- Doing work on existing domain rather than a staging server
- Changing site navigation- losing text aspect of menus or increasing the number of pages the homepage links to
- Changing site structure and URL structure without redirects
- Losing pages that many other websites link to
- If using a meta robots noindex nofollow code during redesign on staging server, forgetting to remove it at launch
- No sitemap.xml file- may or may not hurt
- Changing domain without letting Google know
11 Corresponding Ways to Preserve SEO and Traffic
Each of these is the solution to the same number above.
- Keep as many pages of content as possible
- Keep as much text as possible
- Don’t drastically change text copy
- Don’t create pages that take much longer to load, if possible reduce page load times
- Work on a staging server until everything including redirects are ready
- Keep site navigation as-is
- Keep site structure and URLs as-is, second best option is 301 redirects or mod rewrites- if a 5,000 page 301 redirect file is needed for launch, make sure you have a logic in mind about how new site is organizing the old pages
- Keep the most linked-to pages as-is
- Use meta robots noindex nofollow tag on staging server, then at launch remove it
- Create a sitemap.xml file
- If doing a change of domain name, add and verify Google webmaster tools on old site and new site BEFORE redesign, then at launch use change of address tool
Brian Carter is a popular digital marketer and keynote speaker with Fortune 500 clients like NBC, Microsoft and Humana as well as small businesses who delivers motivational keynotes with practical takeaways based his ad agency’s 15 years of daily cutting-edge work driving awareness, leads and sales for their business clients. His agency, The Brian Carter Group, creates marketing that excites customers and increases brand visibility, sales and loyalty. Brian is a bestselling author you’ve probably seen on Bloomberg TV or in Inc, Entrepreneur, The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times. He has over 250,000 online fans and reaches over 3 million people per year.