Launching a website can be a stressful and overwhelming project, from choosing a provider to host your website or video, to implementing the best SEO tactics. And whether it is your personal website offering sartorial commentary on the British Royal Family or a business website, the end goal is still the same: driving traffic to it.
But no matter how much money you spend on your website, it is not out of the ordinary to see a slight dip in organic traffic post-launch. When your Google Analytics reports show a distinct loss of traffic – that means you’re missing out on leads and revenue. How could this have happened? More importantly, what can be done to fix this issue?
All is not lost and in the majority of cases, there are a few suspects to blame. This can happen because your new site structure needs to be reindexed by Google and other search engines. Take a look at these factors when optimizing your website for Google’s web crawlers.
Check Your Tag Setup
Are your tags being implemented correctly? If there aren’t any sessions recording in Google Analytics, or if a Tag isn’t firing, there might be an error in your tracking code or it may have been removed. Some common analytics tag issues that can be resolved with Google Tag Assistant include formatting errors such as additional characters, misspelled words, or pasting the tag in the wrong place, as well as customization errors and incorrect filter settings. To ensure proper tracking, tag all of the pages on your website. Use a program such as Screaming Frog to crawl your website for any analytics issues on your pages causing issues with your website traffic.
Check Your 301 Redirects
If your website redesign involves a new set of URLs, website redirects tell your visitors that your content has been relocated. By creating 301 redirects, you will also help search engines understand that your content has moved.
If you do not take the time to set up redirects of your most popular pages to relevant pages on your new website, your visitors will get 404 Not Found errors when they visit your site, which will communicate to search engines that you have bad content and affect your rankings.
Audit Your Inbound Links
Inbound links play a role in your website’s search engine ranking, which impacts your organic website traffic. To Google, strong links are a sign of authority. Low-quality links, however, can negatively impact your website. Consider reviewing your inbound links early on in your website redesign to see where your website is linked, and request they update your information or links where it makes sense and setup 301 redirects for any that might have been broken in the redesign.
Help Google Reindex Your Site Faster
Depending on the content on it, it can take Google as little as a few hours to four weeks to crawl and index your website. When you launch a new website, there are a few things you can do to help it get indexed faster.
- Set Up Google Search Console & Submit Your Sitemap. Google Search Console is a free service offered by Google that helps you monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot your site’s preference in Google Search results. Keep in mind that you don’t have to sign up for Search Console to be included in Search results, but it does help you understand and improve how Google sees your site. A sitemap is a structured file where you provide information about the pages, videos, and other content on your website, used by Google and other search engines to crawl your website. Once your sitemap is ready, submit it on Google Search Console. Ensure that your website and sitemap match, so that the web crawlers have do not have issues indexing.
- Request Google To Crawl Your Site. There are two crawl request methods – using the URL Inspector tool, which is for a few URLs, or submitting a sitemap. We recommend taking this step early on because it doesn’t matter how nicely you ask, it can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
- Use High Traffic Links. If your new website is actually a redesign, you can use that to your advantage. Google increases the frequency with which it recrawls a page if it recognizes that the content on that page is updated regularly and draws large amounts of traffic. To leverage your high traffic pages, link them to any new, relevant pages on your website to help Google’s web crawlers work faster.
A Bigger Problem, or Not: Significant Changes in Content
It is possible that you have lost significant traffic because your content has changed. This could be a good thing if you’ve lost a lot of irrelevant traffic. In most cases, this problem is unique to Google’s organic search traffic and requires a deep dive into Google Search Console data from pre and post-launch keywords and impression data. If you have this problem, call us. We know what we’re doing. 😉
Continue To Monitor Your Website
While it is tempting to see your website’s launch date as the end goal, it is actually the beginning of a growth phase. Like your manicure or your car (mine is turning 11 years old and running on fumes), maintenance is required to run smoothly.
Reporting services like Google Search Console and Google Analytics are helpful for keeping tabs on your website and diagnosing issues, monitoring behaviors, and usage patterns. You can set up alerts with these tools natively, or any other external providers that will provide you with a notification if your traffic goes outside of the expected range. With a few key considerations, you can help limit traffic drop-off, help it bounce back, and get back to achieving your goals.