If you build it, they will come... Right? Of course not. Most know that a successful website takes a lot of work. Maybe you've learned a lot from your past ventures, and when you created a new website, you did everything right. Except now you're actually losing traffic. Not that tiny little acceptable margin, either. You're losing A LOT of traffic. Here are five ways to fix it, stat.
Soooo... why is this happening?
There's no doubt your new website is the bee’s knees. Your target audience didn't suddenly make a group decision to go off the grid. The zombie apocalypse hasn't started...as far as we can tell.
But what happened? Is your shiny new website simply a horrible miscalculation you should dump in favor of returning to the old format? Not. So. Fast. The good news is, the problem is most likely not your fabulous new site or your disappearing customers. There. Are you happy?
Good, you shouldn't be. We haven't solved the problem yet. There are a variety of reasons that new websites lose traffic. Your job is to find out what's happening and the best way to solve the problem. These are the most common reasons new websites cause decreased traffic.
Your audience visited your old website to gain wisdom from your content or seek your valuable products and services. They should love your new website even more. After all, you've improved the content and your new visuals are amazing. The problem is, you forgot to give directions. Without proper redirects, your audience can't find you. It's like that time met a person out at a bar and gave them the wrong phone number.
Enter 301 redirects, which give your audience and Google valuable information about the changes you made. First, they direct users from the old page to the new one. Note this should be a page that includes similar content, not a random product page or your home page (leave the bait and switch for the person you met at the bar). Secondly, they tell search engines to transfer the rankings from the old page to the new one, allowing your new pages to retain their original value.
No one redesigns a website hoping to make it less attractive and more boring. Yet, the beauty of your new site could be slowing you down. You know the value of pages that load like lightning, but the joy of creating something fabulous can make it easy to forget. That's why we're here to remind you of the basics.
Users are impatient. If your page takes forever (translation: more than 2 seconds) to load, they'll bounce. Bye, bye rankings, and even worse, actual traffic. Since users like page speed, search engines like it too. When your pages are slow, you get ranked lower. It's the internet's polite way of calling you lame and outdated. You probably already know the drill here, but since we're feeling forgiving, here's your reminder. Check your page speeds and adjust accordingly. Enough said.
Shortcut alert: images on your website can slow your site down. Make sure they are optimized. You can scale your images down by using this handy tool.
Yes, it's true, updating your website means getting rid of content that's no longer relevant. Deleting pages is also a great way to make a new website easier to navigate and improve the overall user experience. All of those things are great, but now you have a content gap. Since the topics on the deleted pages no longer exist, the rankings for those pages disappear and your overall ranking drops.
The important question is whether you deleted the right pages. Blindly dumping pages could mean the loss of valuable topics. It's vital to determine whether you'll lose high-value keywords when you delete information during a site redesign.
Pet peeve alert: If you have an abyss of pages that are ranking for the wrong things, kick them to the curb, they’re hurting you more than helping.
Moving things around, changing copy, deleting pages, using a new server, etc. is a lot of change to deal with at once. Any of these actions can cause links to get wonky. Your traffic comes from a lot more directions than the first page SERP (search engine results pages). Broken, lost, or incorrect links create user frustration and drive traffic away from your site. Luckily, free tools do exist to help you determine how many links you've lost recently. If you've already discovered this issue, some manual labor will be required to determine why the link is broken and how to fix it.
These are the most common reasons for broken or incorrect links:
Your links can often be recovered with a little bit of effort. You'll need to address your issues with internal links by replacing old links with new ones that work. Repairing inbound links from other sources will require you to contact the source and simply ask if they can update to match your new website. To make this transaction go smoothly, be sure to supply all necessary information to make the repair as easy as possible.
Restructuring your website means updating copy to align with the new website's direction and keeping things modern. After all, nothing changes faster than technology, and stale copy won't keep you ahead of your competitors. It's fun to write titles and subtitles that illustrate your new, bold voice, but Google will have the last word on whether your new voice makes the cut.
Here's the thing. Hopefully old header text, subtitles, alt text and body copy were painstakingly worded to follow the rules of SEO. If you forgot those rules while making changes, you likely removed essential keywords. Does this mean you have to scrap the great new voice entirely? No, you need to do a little research and creatively weave essential keywords into your new voice.
And we hate to be the bad news bear, but if your pages weren’t optimized and were ranking for funny headlines that don’t relate to your business, you don’t want that old traffic, anyway. It was fluff.
How are you feeling now? Like you didn't do all your homework? Well, don't beat yourself up. Experience builds knowledge, and now you know how to turn things around. If you want to learn more about attracting traffic to your shiny new website or could use a little help getting all your homework done, give us a holler. We speak like regular people (and won’t kill you with buzzwords) and know exactly how to help you get your traffic back (and, ahem, more).
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