How to Retain at Least 95% of Your Organic Traffic After a Site Redesign

redesign

A total site redesign is a tricky thing. At some point, you must redesign your site, but when you do, you run the risk of your traffic dropping off. Redesigning a site is one of the biggest SEO challenges that a company can face.

What’s going to happen once the site is officially launched? What will happen with any 404s? How will the site perform in the search engines? What about existing links to nonexistent pages?

Download this cheat sheet to learn how to retain at least 95% of your organic traffic after a site redesign.

If you are currently redesigning your site or planning on a full site overhaul in the future, here’s what you need to know:

The two big ideas about redesigning a site

This article is all about keeping your existing traffic, so I’m not providing any design-specific or development-specific advice. However, I want to set the stage with two big ideas:

  1. SEO should be part of the redesign process – designers, developers, and SEOs should regularly interact with each other during a site revamp. SEOs often see things from a traffic perspective that an information architect, developer, or designer might miss.
  2. Don’t rush the launch – I’ve seen some of the world’s biggest brands and websites completely miss crucial SEO steps because they were trying to meet a deadline. If the deadline is more important than maintaining search traffic, then there is something wrong with the deadline. Do not place unreasonable deadlines upon a site launch.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s get into the redesign process.

What should you do during the redesign process?

While you are redesigning your site, you need to keep a few things in mind. Some of these things may not seem important to you, but leaving any of them out is an easy way to cause a huge traffic drop.

Never take down your site

At no point should you pull your old site offline unless it needs to go under for a few minutes as you launch the new design. When visitors encounter a website that says “sorry, we’re under construction” for several weeks, traffic declines before the new site goes live.

Reexamine your keyword strategy

A site redesign is the perfect time to evaluate your existing keyword strategy. Take a look at your organic keyword traffic, and find out if your site could be gaining traffic from any new long tail keywords. If so, then you should roll this research into the new site redesign. You may want to create new categories based on these keywords.

Optimize all content

You should also be reviewing content on each page prior to your site redesign. Sometimes things can get changed in the process. Titles are altered; meta descriptions are dropped; and SEO gets marginalized. Don’t let this happen to you. Instead, pay close attention to optimizing all content on all pages.

One reason why sites lose massive amounts of traffic after a redesign is because their content has been deoptimized. This is the opposite of what should be happening. Instead, focus on optimization — adding content, fine-tuning page titles, and improving everything you can.

Maintain the same URL structure as much as possible

If you can, keep your URL structure the same. Whenever you change a site’s URL structure, you lose vast amounts of traffic from inbound links. To remedy that, you will have to conduct a massive 301 redirect mapping campaign.

The biggest site launch mistake I’ve observed is altering the URL structure without implementing 301 redirects.

In many cases, you will want to change your URL structure. If any of the following is true, a URL structure change is in order:

  • You are using a new platform or CMS that requires a different structure. Often, switching to a new system for website administration and content creation is a great choice. If you do, you may have to change your URL structure.
  • You are completely reconfiguring your entire sales or search approach. Sometimes, a site redesign is called for because your business is changing strategy. Maybe you’re adding a new product line, acquiring a new business, or rebranding entirely. In this case, you’ll need a fresh URL structure.
  • Your existing URL structure is downright bad. This is probably the most common reason for a URL structural change. One of the best ways to restructure your URLs is to do it according to organic query patterns. If your current URL structure does help your long tail traffic, then you may need to come up with a URL structure that is better optimized for SEO.

Create a comprehensive 301 URL redirect mapping strategy

Nearly every site redesign will have some pages that will be mapped to a new location. It’s important to have a complete plan in place for redirecting every such page. Every single rewritten URL must have a 301 permanent redirect (possible exception below). Here are some tips on implementing your mapping strategy:

  • Don’t use 302s – 302 temporary redirects are not recommended. They do nothing for SEO and are only a short-term fix for what should be a long-term strategy.
  • Don’t delete pages – deleting pages is not a good idea. If you don’t like a page, you can change the content of the page, or you can redirect it to a different page.
  • The rare 404 case – there are some rare cases in which you may not want to 301 a page, e.g., if a large collection of highly toxic links was targeting that specific page. If this is the case and the page is not a critical landing page, leave the 404 error there and do not redirect it. When you redirect a page, it transfers both negative and positive link juice to the root domain. If you leave it with 404, the toxic juice will have a limited impact on the rest of the site.

Create an effective customized 404 error page

Since the new site will probably experience a few 404s, you should have an optimized 404 page in place. What many developers don’t realize is that a 404 page can be a great tool for marketing and/or keeping users on the site.

Check out this 404 technique for creating more indexed pages, and check out this site for creating a compelling 404 design.

Create new sitemaps (HTML and XML)

You should always have an up-to-date sitemap, but it’s especially important for a site launch or redesign. If any content has moved to new URLs, the sitemap can help the search engine discover these new locations.

Put tracking codes in place

When you’re sure everything is ready, place your analytics tracking code in the page source. Any conversion landing pages should also be tracked with the relevant codes.

You will need data once the site is relaunched. If you forget to put in your tracking codes, you’re going to lose the chance to analyze the performance of the new site.

Launch Time! Flip the Switch!

As you launch your shiny new site, you need to do two important things before popping the champagne bottle and celebrating. Here they are:

  1. Remove all indexing restrictions (robots.txt) on the dev site – adjust your robots.txt to allow your new site to be crawled. Make sure you’ve specified the location of your sitemap in your robots.txt.
  2. Submit your new sitemap to Google in Google Webmaster Tools – go to Google Webmaster Tools > Crawl > Sitemaps. Add your new sitemap to allow for the indexing of the new site to begin.

Post launch: Monitoring your traffic

Once the launch is complete, you enter a new, very important phase: watching your traffic and rankings. Keep a careful eye on your analytics during this time. Your goal is to find any unusual traffic drops, sudden 404 spikes, or keyword ranking losses. Below are three critical points to monitor.

You can accomplish these tasks through Google Webmaster Tools.

Watch the Google index status

Keep an eye on how things are indexing in Google. You want to make sure that Google is indexing your entire site.

index status

Notice any crawl errors

Once your site is launched, watch this page like a hawk. If you see pages 404ing, make a list and fix them.

crawl errors

Watch your traffic

Traffic is a critical metric for measuring the success of your new site’s SEO. Keep close tabs on everything that happens with your traffic patterns.

Look at the charts below. They reflect two different outcomes of a site redesign process.

One site experienced a plunge in traffic at the point of its redesign. It was able to regain most of the traffic shortly after.

traffic

Another site had a total loss of traffic due to a complete mismanagement of the site’s SEO. It did not regain its traffic.

traffic drop

Conclusion

If you follow the instructions in this post, your site will not suffer the fate that you see in the chart above. Sure, you’ll experience a bit of fluctuation. Every site does after a redesign – it’s inevitable.

I’m convinced that a careful and intentional site redesign will allow you to sustain 95% or more of your site’s existing traffic. A big drop doesn’t have to happen. Plus, if your site redesign is rolled out successfully and your new design is better, then you’ll actually see your traffic rise.

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Comments

  1. Rohit Palit :

    Really awesome post, Neil.

    I’ve seen a lot of people who miss important things like ensuring easy communication between the site designer, the coder and the person responsible for SEO. Each of these people see a re-design from a different perspective, and only the best ideas from all of them can help create the best possible new design. 🙂

  2. I just redesigned my site and noticed traffic drops.I now know why.Thank you for the post and am working on the recommendations.

  3. very Nice Post Neil, I just need your help, i have a site which was ranking good in search engines and i was getting around 1000 visits per day, but then someone told me that you are doing keyword stuffing , so i edited every single posts on my site but i took care of keywords during the process, but my traffic goes down from 1000 per day to almost 50 per day, i don’t know what i did wrong. if you can help me.

    • Sami, have you run a full site audit using my tool?

      • No, Neil. How can that audit help me, I have read post somewhere that editing posts will destroy your site rankings, but at that time i did mistake and i edit my whole sites posts, and that’s what results in loss of traffic. any tips to recover traffic again, i am also gonna run a your audit now. Need help.

    • Michael Bely :

      Sami,

      It’s very sad to experience such a drop in visitors.

      Have you considered returning your website content as it had been before you made changes?

      • Micheal, what i did was, after editing when i saw a huge drop in traffic , then again i reedit my posts with the old data. i thought returning to old data should do the trick, but nothing happened, still no traffic,

        • Michael Bely :

          Sami,

          I can think of two possible reason now:

          1. You have got penalized by Google algorithm update
          To try to check it you may want to see these links:
          http://moz.com/google-algorithm-change
          http://www.seroundtable.com/category/google-updates
          http://searchengineland.com/library/google/google-algorithm-updates

          2. Do you have enemies that could do a negative SEO on you? (check you backlinks to see if there are some bad links)

          Anyway, even if everything looks valid there can be something that can not be explained.

          E.g. I had 6 sites that I started from scratch and was filling with the content and promoted the same way, and when all of them were on the first page of Google two of them lost their ranking (moved to more than 20th page in Google search) without a visible reason.

          So it just happens.

          • Michael, loved the deep insights and analysis. Thanks for this 🙂

          • Thanks Michael, My site traffic dropped right on 2nd may, i also read out your recommended articles after that drop, but i think on may 2nd there was no major update from google. the only reason i can think is editing of all posts on my site, which drops the ranking of keywords from which i was getting traffic, anyway thanks for your Help.

  4. Chris Romero :

    Thank you Neil.

    There has been a surge in these types of requests from my current client base. People are realizing more and more the importance of a successful site migration. Realizing that no one wants to lose organic traffic, these clients are becoming more informed when launch site refreshes.

    When dealing with proper seo architecture for new sites, what do you look for?

    • I try to keep a similar architecture. I think that part is huge as adjusting how you internally link pages can affect rankings.

  5. OMG! That last chart is painful even to look at. I can’t imagine having to go through that experience firsthand.

  6. Praveen Ravindran :

    An article of great value. Yet Again!

    Most of the old websites I have seen has major flaws in terms of Design, SEO & Technically. So 80% of the items needs to be changed in-order to rectify those. So it’s better to create a checklist of the items that should be verified before launching the new website.

    Thanks
    Praveen.

  7. Great and informative post Neil,

    This post must be helpful for designers as well as blogger to create SEO friendly website. This point should must have to consider whenever redesigning take place.

  8. Well said!
    Recently I saw a website that got completely redesigned, from the ground – up. However, I didn’t notice any sort of fluctuations in their rankings. Well, your post makes a great sense Neil, thanks for sharing.

  9. Great post – though communicating 95% retention is even possible is misleading. Let me explain. If you look at just one redirect by itself, regardless of intent, it is still a redirect. Unfortunately, a redirect dilutes the value of the original link. (http://youtu.be/Filv4pP-1nw) How much is the question… right? Matt Cutts won’t even speculate on that number – but from various rebranding studies I’ve conducted in the last 3 years it ranges from 20-40% depending on the industry and the market interest. When you communicate that 95% is achievable, it’s adding to SEO’ers shady reputation.

    • Jared, glad you found it helpful. Thanks for the great feedback 🙂

      • Neil (if indeed it really is Neil replying?!)

        So do you agree with Jared or stand by your original 95%?

        This is of great interest as we are just looking at a redesign probably with a new URL structure.

        Regards

        Roger

        • The amount of traffic you retain does not directly correlate to the amount of link equity you retain. They’re two different things. A smart plan from the beginning is supposed to help you alleviate some of the loss that may come from the 301s and site relaunch chaos.

          95% seems like a solid estimate if you do it right. If you couple the relaunch with a great marketing campaign you can even increase that traffic.

  10. thank you for the post neil, i have few questions if you can answer please.

    1. what if we have many 404’s due to existing urls on the other web pages (which we submit earlier for link building or promotional things), how to fix them?.

    2. If we have few 404’s that you said is a good thing. what about panda 4.0 then, what will be the effect on our site due to panda?

    • 1. You need to fix them. Try to manually remove the links and pages or you can block those URLs through the robots.txt file.

      2. Don’t worry about Panda 4.0 assuming you are blocking those pages.

  11. Hi Neil, thanks very much for the informative article. Try are always excellent to read an jam packed with good info! Just a heads up, the SEO secrets box in this article doesn’t render correctly on iOS Safari and is displaying outside of the viewport. Thanks again for the write up!

  12. Martin Voorzanger :

    There is probably even more, especially if you change the URL structure. Think about data feeds you are sending out, AdWords campaigns that may get different landing pages, and review of Google Analytics and Tag Manager (especially filters and conversions) et cetera. Try to get rid of 301 in the sense that any source should like to the new URLs.

    I would strongly suggest you have sitemaps registered with Google Webmaster tools and already automatically update daily. That speeds up discovery of new URLs.

  13. If you do take a big hit in organic traffic with a redesign will putting the old site back help you regain that traffic. If so could you then relaunch after being more careful with the relaunch following the info you’ve posted? Thanks in advance for your reply and for sharing your knowledge!

    • Austin, glad I could help. Thanks for the feedback 🙂

    • Alejandra Valencia :

      Hello Neil, I have taken your courses before and I love everything you do.

      Right now I have to do a “rehab” on a big hit in organic traffic after a redesign. The traffic crashed down, it’s been six months, and not recovering. I have to recover the traffic. If I bring out a lot of the old content and relaunch, would this help? The new site structure and url and content changed without regard of previous established content, pages, keywords etc. Please advice how should I approach this best?

      • If the url site structure and content changed, you probably won’t be able to recover the original rankings. Did you do any 301 redirects?

  14. Partha Bhattacharya :

    I have a problem while redesigning my website. Hope someone can suggest a way out.

    I shifted my website from one Elegant Theme to Genesis Framework. Unfortunately, the SEO data, especially the titles and descriptions, were not transported during the shift.

    I tried the SEO Data Transporter plugin, but it can’t transport data from Elegant theme. I approached ElegantTheme website for suggestion, but none has been forthcoming thus far.

    Any idea how this can be solved? Thanks in advance.

    • You will have to fix it manually. There maybe an automated way but you don’t have much time… if you wait too long your rankings may end up getting hurt.

  15. Thanks for such an informative post Neil. We recently had a redesign for a site on top of search results for highly competitive keywords. All the urls except the home was changed and we did a lot of 301s. We did all the stuff like meta alterations, new sitemap etc. And note that there were zero content editing. Absolutely no content was changed except one or two newly added testimonial.

    Things are going smooth so far and we even had some improvements in ranking and traffic too.

    Well another thing i noticed that the hike in the rankings were found around 2 weeks after re design. Means Google takes its time to crawl the new site.

  16. Hi Neil,

    Thanks for sharing ! I hoped you could give me your perspective on the following:

    Currently preparing for a site migration, changing url structure, design and content.
    We are ranking well on important landing pages. With appox 350 ish words in body copy. The new design is more mobile and responsive designed focused. The result is 50 – 75 words in new copy which will still be centred around the same keyword topic. Would you be concerned about this ?

    Secondly, would be great to see a post on a suggested Kpi framework for a site migration.

    Best, Andrew

    • Andrew, thanks for sharing these additional thoughts. Looking forward to hearing more from you 🙂

  17. Brad Nickel :

    We had a client that did a move from static html to wordpress. She seems to have implemented her 301’s correctly and she did a gradual shift of her pages starting with the lowest traffic pages and then the highest traffic pages. The first set of pages saw a small decline and then a recovery, but the highest trafficked pages have fallen off a cliff and haven’t recovered in a week. Sitemaps are in place and seem to be functioning correctly, but webmaster tools is reporting an error on pages that are clearly there and functioning properly.

    Any thoughts on this?

    Any technical SEO experts out there willing to consult on the issue? If so, please contact me at brad at captiva dot io.

    Thanks.

    • Have you submitted the pages to Webmaster Tools again and see if they still see an error. If so, start crawling the site and dig through it all to see if anything could be blocking the search engine spiders.

  18. David Sanders :

    Neil, this came at a perfect time! I’ve done a number of redesigns, domain/site migrations in the past so it’s nothing new to take the required steps to making this happen without killing my organic traffic.

    I’d like to hear your thoughts on more of the site migration / domain migration in addition to the aesthetic/structural redesigns.

    Thanks again, and always a pleasure to read your blog.
    -Dave Sanders

  19. This is just what I needed! I just started a site redesign and this will be great to reference as I am working on it.

  20. Hi Neil,

    Thanks for this post!
    We’re actually changing quite a lot of stuff on our website and this blog is right on time (or just a bit late).

    We’re experiencing some problems concerning the URLs (changing of URLs, because their name really had to be changed: no keywords, almost nothing to do with the content).

    Some URLs work fine (redirecting to the new url) but some don’t, like for example url/page/15 ; url/page/12 etc.
    I don’t know why it’s not automated, but that would mean I have to do it on my own, right? How would you advise us to do it? Should it be done through Apache or is there any other easy way of doing so?

    Thanks!

    • Just have your developer do a 301 redirect from the old URL to your new URL. Not sure on how to do it as it varies based on your server settings.

  21. I was so excited to see this! You posted this the day after I just completed a redesign for a client and I was happy I have done EVERYTHING you recommended!! The traffic has actually been increasing slowly since the redesign. 🙂

    Thanks Neil for making me less anxious!

  22. Rajesh Saharan :

    Hi Neil, I am about to redesign my site and now it looks much better than the previous. Earlier i had separate pages for login, register and forgot password now all these are combined into a single page. Since these pages have no significant SEO value, Is it required to 301 redirect them ?

  23. Rajnikant Kumar :

    It’s really very nice stuff and explanation with pros & cons. I will wait for more such usuful information Neil from your side. Thanks a lot.

  24. Khiêm Bùi :

    Hi Neil,

    Thank you for your share, but you have a mistake: “Check out this 404 technique for creating more indexed pages, and “. You’re add two link in a tag

  25. Thanks Neil, another great post, We recently had this problem, they redesign the site without informing us. Some important pages are missing, duplicate meta data occur, and the result was bad, traffic drop after the Panda update. I will send this article to our client.

  26. Most of the time people or companies redesign their websites for better CMS (usability & scalability) and that is where they did the big mistake by changing their old URL structure. If we move our site to another platform or CMS and if we had to change the link structure then be careful about using 301 permanent redirects for each old URL to their respective new URL. I have seen most of the companies use page to domain redirects which is a pain for their site visitors and which in tern pull down their site visits as well as ranking.
    Thanks Neil for sharing another informative article with us.

    • Soumya, glad I could help. Thanks for the great feedback. I look forward to hearing more from you 🙂

  27. hello Mr.Neil if i duplicate my focus keyword in tittle or link..Is it good or bad for the SEO?

    • Nader, I would avoid duplication. With that being said do a link audit to see what works best 🙂

  28. I just lost most of the organic traffic after I just redesigned my blog,it’s just so embarrassing Neil.Hope your tips will help me to get them back again,finger crossed. :/

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  30. Carlos Rosado :

    I just read this post and I’m dealing with 2 cases of site changes. Both going into CMS and I spent most of my morning fixing everything for them. I’m glad I kept going through your blog today and found this post. Leaves me at ease to know I was doing some of the same things you are recommending.

  31. Hi Neil,

    We were revamping a site. Somehow we ended up deploying the website without copying the meta data from the old website. After deploying, we realized this happened. But now when we try to restore the old website, we see error.

    Is there any other way to get the old meta data without having to ask the hosting to restore the site?

    We are badly looking for an answer. Thanks a lot.

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  35. Hi Neil,

    I understand that http://www. & http:// are both treated differently and because of this it is best SEO practice to tell google your preferred domain name, also tell them what your preferred url is for other pages you have and then use 301 redirects to direct to the preferred domain/url.

    1. Is this correct or am I overcomplicating things?
    2. If so, how do I implement the redirects for every page and main page?

    P.S. I’m using WordPress 🙂

    Would really appreciate your advice as I don’t want to do a ton of work only to get half the benefit.

    Cheers,
    Ben

  36. Marcelo Vanvranken :

    Hi Neil, First of all, thanks for sharing your experience.

  37. Isaiah Bollinger :

    What would be your suggestions on sites with thousands of URLs?

    For instance an eCommerce site can change dramatically when you replatform. Manually going through every link and matching it with a new URL is an extremely time consuming process. There may not be logic from the old sites urls to the new site to easily write a script to match such URLs, so a manual process might be the only way to go.

    Has anyone encountered this problem and found a good solution that doesn’t require manually doing the urls one by one that doesn’t just send all the urls to the homepage?

    • Isaiah, again I would use discretion when choosing which URLs to change.

      It’s important to only focus on relevant pages.

  38. I started to worry that I did something wrong when my traffic dipped down a bit a few days after I migrated my site and implemented a 301 redirect. Good to know that this is normal and to be expected with any migration.

    I’ve been watching my Google webmaster tools closely and everything seems to be ok. The new URLs are being indexed and not too many crawl errors. I fixed whatever I can and the rest are caused mostly by old deleted content. Search results in Google are starting to show the new URL and Alexa rank is bouncing back as well. I followed your advice with optimizing the 404 pages too.

    Thanks so much for posting this. Very reassuring. 🙂

    • JB & Renee, glad I could help. Please let me know if you need help with anything else. Looking forward to hearing much more from you.

  39. We are having an odd issue with one of our websites.
    A client re branded their company. Now offering more services, new company name and new URL.

    Problem:
    + Run a Google query for the main service they used to only offer
    ( electrician city name ), and the meta title is incorrect, and shows old company name
    – meta title shows old company name which is odd because we never just put a company name for a title ( not showing new title )
    – meta description is correct ( is showing new description )
    – URL is correct ( is showing new URL )
    – other Google queries ( ex: ceiling fan installation city name ) are showing the correct info in Google SERPS

    So everything looks correct except the meta title…displaying the old company name when just searching: electrician city name…strange.

    Webmasters:
    – we have old site there with sitemaps
    – we have new site there with sitemaps
    – change of address was done from old URL to new URL

    Questions:
    1. Any ideas why a meta title would be showing just an old company name?
    2. Should we remove the sitemaps from the old site in Google Webmasters?

    Thanks for any help we can get!

  40. Does Backlinks disappear if i change the wordpress theme?

  41. Hey Neil! Can I just say that I would be absolutely lost without you! So yeah, thanks for existing.. I really like that about you lol.

    Now.. the issue I’m having is that I am NOT an SEO expert (though I dabble out of curiosity and find it interesting). Yet, somehow I ended up becoming the project lead in migrating an existing website (that my client recently purchased) from Joomla (wtf is Joomla–that was me like a month ago) to WordPress (which I’ve only used once–because I’m also not a Web Designer). Not only do I need to migrate a site (which I’ve never done before), but I also need to completely redesign the site–literally everything needs to be changed.

    The site somehow maintained a first-page ranking for it’s top 5 keywords in Google despite being completely neglected for nearly 6 years. It’s impressive, but in my opinion, that says that it’s one of the “best of the worst” kind of sites. It’s visually unappealing, messy and boring. The content is completely useless and outdated. The main menu and sub-menus are huge! Where most people use tags, this site uses menu items, which resulted in tons of menu items that have like one piece of content and many are completely empty.

    I know I will need to use 301 redirects like a mofo on this site (though I have never used a 301 for anything… ever. another first for me… yayyy) and possibly even 404s. You say never to delete a page.. but if you could only see the multitude of empty pages or nearly empty pages, combined with pages that even your great-great grandparents would find dull, I have to hope you’d change your mind.

    So why even keep the site? That was my question to my client after looking at it the first time. Well, because it’s obviously got something worthwhile going on to keep it on page number one for 5 fairly high traffic keywords. I don’t know what that something is, but I’ve been tasked to figure that out, along with everything else that must be done.

    I don’t expect you to provide me with a roadmap on how to do this, step-by-step, while holding my hand through the entire process (unless that’s an option lol), but if you have any relevant articles/posts that may help with certain aspects of this process or could refer me to other sources who might have answers… I would be so grateful! Seriously… please take pity on me, Neil!!!!

    • Ashley, thanks for sharing. I’d be glad to help you along your way — just give me some specific questions and I can answer them 🙂

      As for guides they are all over my blog — so just use the search option and go from there!

  42. Hey, we recently moved to new domain name and I follow all the point you mention in this post. Last two day we are seeing huge drop in traffic ( almost 95%). Do you think we missed anything or we have to something differently.

    Submitted google sitemap, 301 redirect everything, almost same url structure.

    Is that anything that we can do or we are missing something ?

    • Sometimes you see a drop for a bit and then it picks back up. This is natural…

      • Hi Neil,

        About how long can one expect things to pick back up after a site redesign? I was amazed when I moved my site from Drupal to WordPress that within one day from being #1 on a keyword ranking, I dropped to the second page. The URL structure is almost identical with the exception of a few additions. I submitted site maps and setup 301s. Ughhh.

  43. Hello Neil, Can you please help me out? I am in a big problem. My one year old site was completely deleted due to some problems. My backup didn’t worked. I have created the site again and I used to have 60+ articles now I have to write them again. I am writing 6-7 same articles per day. My traffic is not affected right now.

    I have submitted my sitemap again. I have even taken the same urls as before. Will my organic traffic reduce because my sitemap is new again. The urls are the same. Thanks!

    • Sarfaz, I would focus on the quality of your content vs pumping them out like that.

      • thanks for suggestions. I am writing quality articles better than before.

        • You’re welcome Sarfraz, I’m glad you skills have improved

          • Hi Neil, as you said I wrote articles better than before with quality images and optimized everything. Now from the screenshot you can see my traffic increased from an average of 650 visits per day to 1200 visits per day in just one month.

            • And also I have now only 31 articles which are getting way more than traffic than with previous 65 articles.

            • Awesome!! It looks like you’ve picked up a considerable amount of momentum. Keep it going 🙂

              Let me know if there’s anything else I can help you with.

              • A lot of thanks Neil. If I would have any problem then I would definitely tell you.

                • Sounds good! Keep me posted and let me know if there’s anything else I can help you with.

                  • sarfraz khan :

                    Hi Neil, problems always come when we do something new and sometimes its devastating. I have migrated my site from shared to managed wordpress hosting. From there i tried to change the domain name from www to non-www but Analytics showed an error that choose which is your site. So I rechanged it back to www. But I saw in google webmaster tools that all my urls of sitemap were deindexed from more than 250 to 7 only. Although the submitted urls are 296 but why it happened so fast dont know. I have my sitemap intact as it was before. Will it affect my traffic? What I need to do?. Please help me I am worried.

                    • It shouldn’t affect your traffic. Just make sure when you change from one version to another, you do a 301 redirect. That way you are telling Google to follow the www or the non-www version.

  44. Richard Maurer :

    Neil, thanks for the great post. This is a really great checklist for all the relaunches out there.

  45. Been there.

    I changed my URL of a high ranking blog to make it more brandable. All the redirection and notifying Webmaster tools was done right.

    I forgot to upload the old Disavow link text file in the new URL manager. Still trying to recover from the horrible loss of ranking.

    Had I remembered uploading the disavow file earlier, and reading this check list too, I might have recovered it by now!

  46. Hey Neil, one of my new clients migrated to a new platform last year but did no (zero!) 301s (kept the same TLD) . As a result, most of their traffic dried up and their site was effectively gone from the SEs. Since then the new URLs have been indexed, but the traffic and ranking associated with the old ones is nowhere to be found.

    Question is, will building out the 301s from the old site to the new one eventually lead to their old rankings returning? If not, is there a way to have those old pages restored in the index? Or at least the new URL equivalents of the old, ranking URLs?

    TIA!

    • They usually say 90% of the juice will transfer over. So roughly 90% of your search traffic will carry over.

    • I am in a similar situation. Our organic search traffic has dropped 60 – 70% since we transferred our Magento site from one server to another 3 months ago. In hindsight I can see why.

      We did not change platforms or domain names. So we did not think we had to worry. (duh!) The new site is using a hosted application of Magento. We had no choice but to use their structure which necessitated a slightly different url syntax for our 2 language based stores.

      Previously, we had 2 stores: sitename/english/ and sitename/fr. Now the language is not part of the url so all of our old links are dead in the water. To make matters worse, I also restructured the category tree, which wiped out more links.

      So now the big question is there anything we can do to help restore our ranking?

      I have set up a close to 200 301’s for our highest trafficked pages but it does not seem to have helped. I have created a new site map and submitted it to google. Most of the site has been indexed but not quite all. We have close to 2000 products.

      I would be grateful for any help you can offer.

  47. Hi Neil,
    20 days ago we switched to a new shopping cart and did our best to keep same url structure. Unfortunately old category pages urls didn’t match the new url pattern and many of these urls don’t exist in the new website. Battling over 15 days to make the right redirects for a total of 50,000 urls(including product detail pages) now only the category urls don’t match the old site.
    Well, the problems is that most of our organic traffic comes through our category pages ranked good in google.
    In mean time we submited a sitemap to google with the new urls and now the old urls with high rank disappeared from google results, i guess thy got de-indexed.
    What is the best way to recover this high rank for pages that don’t exist on the server?
    I did thousands of redirects on our server, but after these pages disappeared in google, so now they are not in our sitemap, we don’t have these urls on the server.

    The problem we creating these pages on the server comes from our shopping cart which doesn’t allows uppercase urls. For that we had to modify our server to do some rewrites and besides that slow down the website it its interfere with the login/registration process of the shopping cart. I can create these pages on the server within a few minutes, but will not be possible to match our new design and OLD content(we use to have hundred of products on these pages)

    Your advise is greatly appreciated.,
    Steve

  48. website design proposal :

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    • It’s really a holistic approach that works the best. You want you design and development to be in harmony, and that’s not always an easy thing to do.

  49. We are currently looking at a full redesign but it is a huge job! A check sheet from start to finish would be amazing!!

  50. Hmm it seems like your blog ate my first comment (it
    was super long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I
    had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
    I too am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to the whole thing.
    Do you have any tips for inexperienced blog writers?
    I’d certainly appreciate it.

    • Write something every single day and know that you will suck at first but will only get better every time you practice. But don’t just practice randomly, ready books about copywriting and such so you can practice perfect

  51. Hello, Last 2 days ago, i changed my website’s theme, then i figured out that my traffic was decreasing. I did save my previous template before this new one. My question is, would i be able to regain my traffic back if i use the old template? Need a reply.. Ty

    • I’m not 100% sure what you did or how your site changed Shin, but I suggest getting a developer to help you transition back and redo

  52. Hello Neil Patel sir,

    If i redesign my website which made on php framework and i want to switch my website on codeigniter then my website will some effect on alexa ranking on not even i keep in mind your mentioned steps when i redesign my website…

    Thanks

    • That may happen, but just be sure to keep all the same URL. I would have a professional help you with that task.

  53. Improve Visibility :

    Two things which I think matters the most are:

    1. Proper 301 redirect mapping and implementation (well you don’t want to start from point A if you are already at A+25%), it helps you in retaining the rank factor signals and also avoid any duplicate content issue as well as sudden fall in traffic to website (not 100% though)

    2. Proper tracking of new website and a good look at the traffic and traffic behavior on your new site, this helps you to understand what went good and what went bad with new content (keep a very close look on this)

    • These are great tips, thanks for sharing 🙂

      Exactly, these are key so you can understand and visualize to core components of your site and update it accordingly

  54. Hi Neil,

    First of all thanks for this helpful article.

    I have started a health website on june 2016. In july there were nearly 150 organic searches (not provided) in month of july. In august i had just changed the category names in main menu and replaced some h2 tags with h3. I tried to use h2 tag for main heading and other heading as h3. Because i read somewhere that there should be only 3-4 h2 tag. After then my organic traffic dropped 36 -40 per month till now. How much time does it take to increase?

    Please tell me what is wrong? I have not done any keyword changes. so there is no 404 error in my site.

  55. Hi Neil, Is it right that more h3 tags may decrease organic search? Plz reply. and how many H2 tag should be per page. May be after using more h3 tag for sub heading site is getting low organic search. Plz reply

    • I would get to carried away with that. Have 1 h1, and then you can have a few h2s and h3s. Don’t get caught up in formatting, focus on creating quality content

  56. Thank u Neil

  57. Hi Neil,

    If i want to show 20 exercises and their small description in one post then what should be heading style for 20 exercises titles? It should be h2, h3 or only bold style. Using h3 or h2 style for heading will decrease organic search?

    I am concentrating on writing quality content but i don’t want to do mistakes. I want your suggestion.

    Please reply.

    • The main title should be H1 and then the subtitles H2 ideally. And styling the tags is fine for rankings.

      • Hi Neil,

        I have one doubt about using long tail keyword in h2 tag. Is it necessary to use target keyword in H2 tag?

        I was reading this article https://www.quicksprout.com/university/how-to-use-heading-tags-to-get-more-search-engine-traffic/. In this article you have written that at least you should include keyword in H2 tag at least once.

        I am using wordpress. I know H1 is for main title and as you said subtitles H2 ideally. But if i will use H2 for 20 exercises heading for example Running, Swimming, Sun Salutation then how to use long tail keyword in one of these H2 heading for example “best way to lose weight in 2 weeks”? It should look natural.

        Should I go with this?
        1. Running is the best way to lose weight in 2 weeks?
        2. Swimming
        3. Sun Salutation
        5 ———-
        20 —————–

        Is it right or wrong? Waiting for your reply.

        • The idea is to use the words where it sees fit to do so and that usually means you have grouped a selection of words together based on the intent of searches. Then you would throw in some within heading tags and other parts 🙂

  58. This is a wonderful post, I’m bookmarking, making a checklist, and will follow it religiously from now on.

    I’ve begun to do just this for a client. However when I copied the site to a dev server, his traffic immediately tanked. (From over 300 sessions/day to like 20) On the exact same day I copied the site. I have to mention that the backup plugin brought me to the live site when I performed the database install. So I accidentally restored the live database. But site links were the same, I checked verification and analytics code in google, and put back the blog posts.

    What can you do when trouble happens even if you’re being careful!?

  59. Hey, Neil Brother 🙂
    I have changed my website Structure HTTP to https and redirect 301 correctly. Everything is ok but after a month my website ranking Sudden Drop. Now 2nd week but rank no up. I just install SSL. But 301 migration in HTaccess after a month, I just forget to redirect in Htaccess. But now everything is fine even robot.txt all block URL now I have unblocked.

    Now soon I will add fresh content to my website. Please suggest me more because now everything is ok but my website ranking still down

    • Focus on the content depth and make sure you cover all the angles the content leads you before picking another subject.

  60. Hi Neil,

    Since few month i have notice that google analytic shows some organic traffic from “sharebutton.to”. What to do and Is this traffic harmful to my site? Pls reply

    Thanks
    Rajendra

  61. Thank u so much

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  63. Hi Neil,

    On 6 the Jan 2017 i got a Analytics Notifications as follows

    Property Website name not receiving hits.

    Either your site is not receiving any sessions or it is not tagged correctly.

    Before that i was getting few organic searches but now it showing me this message.

    Please help me what to do?

    • Have you followed the advice and checked the tags?

      • Hi Neil,

        Thank u for your reply first.

        Actually i new for this. I don’t know what to check.

        Is this issue is related to heading or subheading tag or something different than this?

        Please help me? What to do to solve this issue?

        Thank you

  64. Thank u Neil.

    When i installed “Google Tag Assistant Recordings” all the pages shows green color for tag at the top right of the browser.

    According to

    https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/6277313?hl=en&ref_topic=6277290

    Tag details and messages –

    A green tag icon or message means that no issues were found with the tag. Then what is the problem?

    I am getting this “No hits notification” may be due to

    1. Before 2-3 days i had deleted unused filters.

    2. Formatting content for example “Changing sub sub heading tag” on each page without changing keywords.

    Please help me to solve this. Waiting for your reply.

  65. Ok. Thank u.

  66. can someone please explain what is the minimal impact after changing domain name?
    is there any effect on seo after changing a domain name?
    if yes then how can i fix??
    Thanks in Advance

    ?

  67. Hello Neil,

    First of all thank you for the reply.actually i want to change a domain name of my site so behalf of that what will be the least impact that can cause after changing a domain name? and how can i hold all my organic traffic without any loss after changing a domain name.

    Thank You

  68. So do things like Twitter and Reddit now contribute as SEO?
    I was told they help because of the Penguin Google algorithm refresh
    Do you participate in any social sites?

  69. Is there a benefit in employing someone to do the linkbuilding,
    or would you recommend doing that ourselves?
    Shared on StumbleUpon, they would find this interesting

    • I think you should understand what it takes and then if someone does as you need it can be worthwhile.

  70. Biggest Risks are in my opinion the loose of urls by not redirecting with 301 or changing the content on the same url. It was always a huge problem to figure out which url was lost, what has changed and where to redirect.
    We have used during the last 2 relaunches the new relaunchapp.com which hast saved us a loooot of time fo get these things done…
    The last Relaunch we had, was a Site with at least 8700 individual pages where definitive changed every url – nearly impossible to figure this out manually if you dont have a big budget and a lot of time…

    Cheers,
    Carsten

    • It can be a massive problem if not done correctly.

      • Yep – most clients don’t have time and budget to do this really correct, so mostly we ended up with a “soso” Solution which matched hopefully the most important urls and the rest was skipped by hoping that the impact is not that massive…

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