Consider this: you hire a web designer to give your site a makeover, and you know, he doesn’t disappoint as he comes with some amazing ideas on how the new site should look like, and guess what, it looks fantastic. But, after a short period of time, you start to notice that traffic has started to go down, and not at a slow rate, but drastically, which makes you start getting worried. What’s going on? Could it be that all the links on my old site are lost? But still, it doesn’t make sense! All the goodwill you’ve built all over the years is no longer there – it’s suddenly gone. All this leaves you devastated – well, or could leave you devastated if you allow it to happen.
Hiring a good web designer to re-build your site is no longer enough, if you want to maintain a good ranking of your site. The first point to take into account is to ask the web designer if he or she knows about maintaining all the good things you’ve achieved through SEO to date. The reason why experienced SEO providers get paid big bucks is quite simple. They know how to make your website attractive to search engines.
There are many factors that can hurt your site ranking after a website re-design but the most commonly-seen “usual suspects” are the following:
Change of domain name – if your previous site was on http://example.com and to the new site, you also make changes to the protocol (https), the subdomain (www) or the domain, then all your redirects should take this into consideration. Remember, http://example2.com is different from http://example.com. So, when designing the new site, always ensure that you consider carefully on how your redirects are put together, and pay special attention to your protocol, subdomain and domain, as this is where the difference between your success or failure after redesigning lies.
Content changes – your previous site contained well-researched keywords on the home page, right? I know you agreed. Now, if these keywords aren’t mentioned anywhere in your new site, you can be sure that it will take a toll on your ranking. Search engines will assume that you are not offering the same services. Still, if your site retains all the keywords but the other content is changed, then you will have to do an overall qualitative review to find out if there is anything that could lead to a decline of organic traffic. Remember, the behavior of the visitors or their experience affects your ranking on Google.
Optimization issues – if onsite optimization isn’t done correctly, regardless of how amazing your new site looks, the site’s ranking will go down. These are small details that cost you a lot if they are not handled properly. So, ensure that details like site structure, page titles, URLs, conical tags, meta descriptions, image Alt text are correctly done and that they match up correctly.
Switching website hosting server – something else that really affects Google rankings is the shift from an old server to a new web hosting server. This is how the shift will affect your ranking:
- The location of the new server influences your ranking on the search engines. For instance, Google checks the IP of a website so as to determine websites that are in close proximity to specific users. This means that if the IP address of a certain website shows it’s in a particular country, then when the users of that particular country search online, this website pops up, and it doesn’t pop in other similar searches from other countries. So, when redesigning, if you changed the IP address, then the website may rank lower, but if it remains in the same country, then the rankings will not be affected.
- The loading speed is also another factor that affects ranking on search engines. If the site is loading slower on the new server than on the old server, then your site’s ranking will drop. So, to be on the safe side, you should ensure that the new server is well-equipped to handle the traffic on your site.
- And if during the transfer process, your website is down, it tends to decrease your rankings. To avoid this, leave the website working under the old server until the process is complete.
In summary, yes factors like changing content as well as domain name, or switching website hosting server, can cause a decline in website ranking after re-design. But that shouldn’t stop you from redesigning your website. You should not be stuck with an outdated website forever. In fact, if you start planning strategically, you will rather have a chance of improving your website’s performance afterwards.
Life is about taking chances. Trying new things. Having fun. Making mistakes. And learning from it.