Read more posts by Alison

This article was posted 2 weeks ago and is filed under Global River News, Marketing, SEO Tips, SEO Work, Web Design.

We design and build stunning, easy to manage websites that don’t cost the earth. A range of Search Engine Optimisation, and Digital marketing tools and services do the rest. Our business, is growing yours!

Do website rankings drop after a site redesign or launch?

No. A website’s rankings should not drop significantly when a new site is launched. If the new site is designed well and the launch is managed correctly then there will be no sharp impact on the rankings of the site in search engine results and no loss of organic search traffic.

If website rankings drop after a site redesign and launch then that clearly indicates that you have a problem. This should be investigated and corrected as soon as possible to avoid a sustained loss in organic search traffic. Normally we see rankings increase slightly within one to two weeks of a new site launch, due to the fresh new content, updates and improvements that inevitably arrive with a new site. Any loss in rankings should be identified quickly and taken very seriously.

A loss in rankings is most likely going to be followed by a loss in organic search traffic. The overall drop in traffic to your site may only be a few percent, which might not seem too alarming. Easily overlooked by a website designer who is probably not monitoring search traffic. You may not even notice any drop in total traffic. You may need to explore the correct channels in your analytics. But any drop in your keyword rankings will invariably be followed by a drop in non-branded search traffic. That means a drop in the new clients finding your website on-line when they are looking for your services. Not many businesses can afford to ignore a decrease in new clients.

Identifying a Problem

Prior to, and during a site launch your website’s rankings in search engines should be monitored closely and assessed weekly. If you suspect a problem then you should request to see these ranking reports from your website developer. There will always be some fluctuation in rankings both up and down. Minor changes are not a concern. If you see your rankings drop significantly then you need to investigate.

Graph Showing a Problematic Drop in Search Engine Rankings After a Site Redesign

website rankings drop after a site redesign

Website Rankings Drop After a Site Redesign

If you do not have a record of rankings prior to the new site launch then the impact may not be so immediately apparent but information from Google Analytics or Google Search Console can be used to help find if there is a problem.

Why have my website’s rankings dropped after a site redesign?

Redirects

The main reason why a website’s rankings drop sharply when a new site is launched is because the old pages are not redirected to the correct equivalent page on the new site. So for example one of your top performing pages for landing search traffic might be:

https://www.example.co.uk/service/

Over the years this page will have accumulated authority in Google’s index through awesome content, good user experience, quality back-links and so on. If this old page is not permanently redirected to the equivalent new page then all that authority is lost. Google does not know that you are still expert in that service. Your new page will have to start from scratch to build a presence in search engine results and that is going to immediately reduce your rankings and so your traffic.

Don’t forget the PDFs on your site such as specification or instruction manuals. PDF documents often have a lot of quality content, and can land loads of search traffic. These are often overlooked in redirects.

Change in the protocol or domain

Another common problem that I see is a change in the protocol or the sub-domain when a new site is launched. For example your old site may have been:

http://www.example.co.uk

and the new site is:

https://example.co.uk

You may not even notice this as a user. If not managed correctly it will be confusing for search engines, your domain authority will be lost, rankings will drop and so will search traffic to the site.

Totally or partially blocked to search engines

I still see new sites launched that are totally or partially blocked to search engines. Hard to believe I know but anyone can make a mistake and this one is not uncommon – even for very experienced professional web designers! Clearly if a new site is blocked to search engines then rankings will suffer.

Often a decline in rankings and the inevitable decline in non-branded search traffic will be more gradual. This can simply be due to poorly managed redirects. For example sometimes all the old pages will be simply redirected to the home page on the new site. 

What if you just feel like the new site is not performing as well as it should

Sometimes website rankings drop after a site redesign can be more gradual.

Loss of content

A steady decline is often the result of a loss of content. Your old site may have had a specific page or pages that performed well for a certain keywords / subjects and so landed lots of organic search traffic. If those pages or content have not been included on the new site then rankings and traffic for that keyword / subject will decline over the weeks following the launch of the resigned site.

Poor redirects

A gradual decline can simply be due to poorly managed redirects. For example sometimes all the old pages will be simply redirected to the home page on the new site. 

Structure Changes

Changes in the structure of the new site may also lead to it being is less friendly to search engines and so result in a gradual decline in rankings and traffic. These type of changes can be more difficult to recognise and fix.

What to do if you suspect a drop in rankings and traffic to your website

It is never easy to predict how a new site with perform in search engine results. Search engines are very secretive about exactly how their algorithms work, and they update and change them regularly. However there is always a lot of information available about how your site is, and was, performing in website searches – provided you know where and how to look for it. When interpreted correctly this makes it fairly straight forward to identify issues and recover rankings and traffic.

If you suspect you have a problem ask your website designer or marketing agency for the following reports:

  • Rankings for my site’s keywords over the last x months in Google and Bing?
  • Graph showing the volume of organic search traffic to my site each week over the last x months?
  • List of my top performing pages, and the number of clicks and impressions in Google Search results over the last x weeks?
  • List of my top performing pages, and the number of clicks and impressions in Google Search results prior to the launch of my new site?

This information should take only a few minuets for any professional to access and be freely available. It will help identify if there has been a decline or change in your search traffic that maybe affecting your business. Armed with this information you can then plan redirects, new content or site structure changes to help recover rankings and traffic. 

If you have any problems please do not hesitate to contact me. Recovering a site that has lost rankings or traffic is genuinely one of my favorite challenges. It is usually possible to reverse the situation relatively quickly and inexpensively and get rankings and traffic back and even improved.

Read more posts by Alison

This article was posted 2 weeks ago and is filed under Global River News, Marketing, SEO Tips, SEO Work, Web Design.

We design and build stunning, easy to manage websites that don’t cost the earth. A range of Search Engine Optimisation, and Digital marketing tools and services do the rest. Our business, is growing yours!

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