By Kevin Gallagher, Published November 14, 2014
New website but no new traffic?
Isn’t a new website meant to bring you more sales, not less?
If you are a Marketing Manager who has just completed a new website design project, or you are a business owner who is scratching their head as the latest sales report shows a massive drop in sales via the web, then don’t worry this post may be for you.
In this post I will show you some of the most common reasons that may cause a drop in leads and sales and ways to fix them.
Don’t make assumptions
First things first, let’s not jump to conclusions it may not be your new design that is the cause of the problem.
There is an old saying “coalition does not equal causation”.
This means that it may just be a coincidence that you have just designed your website – there may be other forces at work.
But what forces?
Firstly I would check to see if Google has made changes to the way it ranks websites.
Check out the Google algorithm change history to see if there has been a Google update that coincides with the launch of your new website.
From here, if a change is close to your launch then you can examine what effects the new update is having on websites and see if it fits with yours.
You can also check the Google weather report to see more recent activity.
Check your Google Analytics to see where the main channel is that has seen a drop.
If your search traffic has seen sharp drops then it may actually be your website that is the culprit.
If the main channel is for example social media, then it may not be your site that is to blame.
Your page names have changed
This, by far, is the most common culprit that I have found with the businesses that I have worked with.
What happens here is that the pages names get changed, this in itself you may think is not a big problem.
What many don’t realise is that even though your page looks the same and has the same content, changing its name basically deletes it from Google.
Google will then treat the renamed pages as brand new ones and any strength they had will be lost, your page will be removed from Google and your new page may not rank at all.
To identify if this is the cause you can do a couple of things.
If you don’t already have one go ahead and create a Google webmasters account.
Watch the video below which explains why your business needs a webmaster account.
Once you have created an account then take a look at the index status report which will look like the one below, this has been taken from the Stargazer blog.
This report even shows you a timeline of any Google updates, but the main interest in this report is to see if there has been a sharp drop in indexed pages by Google.
If there has, then this could mean the page name changes are the reason for your drop in traffic.
Another place to look for clues is in the crawl errors report.
If you see a list with a lot of 404 errors then this could be strong evidence that a lot of your pages have disappeared. At least in the eyes of Google.
Google Analytics may hold the answers
Head over to Google Analytics and take a look at your site pages report and compare them to the last three months or so.
If you see pages that were receiving traffic previously but are not now then this again is more evidence to indicate your page name changes are the cause.
Don’t panic though because if you have identified the pages then you can simply create 301 redirects to get your old traffic back.
Speak to your web developer about 301s.
Has your SEO gone missing?
Another reason that your traffic has decided to take a holiday is perhaps because your onsite SEO was not carried over from your old site.
Don’t worry though we all get forgetful from time to time.
Just make sure that all the Meta Titles and descriptions have been carried over as this could potentially cause Google to send you less traffic.
Has your site structure changed?
If your navigation or site structure has changed this could cause some issues.
Although less likely, it is still worth checking to see how much of this has changed.
The reason for this is because the way you link internally to different pages on your website tells Google which pages are important and Google may rank these more.
Have you changed your website copy?
Changing your text could make your website less relevant for your important key terms.
Make sure your content is relevant and makes sense to the reader.
Send in the professionals
If none of the above suggestions work then perhaps it’s time to send in the pros.
Speak to the web design company that built the site, they should be able to shed some light on the route of the problem.
If they aren’t much help then turn to a good SEO company and they should be able to help you further.
The first thing you need to check is if your drop in traffic is in fact due to your new web design, if it is then the most likely reason is that your website page names or URLs have changed. Use the tips above to discover which ones and use 301s to get your traffic back.
Have you made sure the SEO settings have been passed across?
This can particularly be a problem if you have changed content management systems.
Also check that your site architecture makes sense and focuses on the pages that your visitors find important.
Your website copy also needs to stay relevant and if all else fails send in a professional company to investigate.
The best of luck!