The Top 11 Causes of SEO Traffic Loss During Website Redesign

countingI don’t have enough fingers to count how many companies have come to me AFTER losing their search traffic, AFTER a website redesign. Sometimes I can still help them, sometimes I can’t.

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

  1. Drastically reducing the number of pages in the site
  2. Reducing the amount of text on the site, replacing it with images
  3. Changing text copy based only on marketing considerations without considering keywords
  4. Increased page load times
  5. Doing work on existing domain rather than a staging server
  6. Changing site navigation- losing text aspect of menus or increasing the number of pages the homepage links to
  7. Changing site structure and URL structure without redirects
  8. Losing pages that many other websites link to
  9. If using a meta robots noindex nofollow code during redesign on staging server, forgetting to remove it at launch
  10. No sitemap.xml file- may or may not hurt
  11. 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.

  1. Keep as many pages of content as possible
  2. Keep as much text as possible
  3. Don’t drastically change text copy
  4. Don’t create pages that take much longer to load, if possible reduce page load times
  5. Work on a staging server until everything including redirects are ready
  6. Keep site navigation as-is
  7. 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
  8. Keep the most linked-to pages as-is
  9. Use meta robots noindex nofollow tag on staging server, then at launch remove it
  10. Create a sitemap.xml file
  11. 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

If you have any questions, or would like an SEO site audit or SEO services, the Carter Group can help. Contact us today.

We can work alongside your website design team to audit the site and create a plan for getting what you need from the redesign without losing traffic and hurting your bottom line.