Site Redesigned! Inbound Traffic is…Down?!

Site Redesigned! Inbound Traffic is…Down?!

You’ve spent much time, dollars and effort building your organic search engine traffic. You’re sure you can do better. Analyzing your conversion scenarios, there are enough issues in your navigation, layout and site architecture that you decide to do a site re-design.

The big day has finally arrived. You re-launch the site with new templates and architecture. Copy has been optimized for search engine keyword density. Kudos all around for the updated look, easier to use layout and more intuitive architecture.

A couple of days after, you look at the inbound acquisition traffic… horrors, it’s down!… not by a few percent but much more. What could be wrong?

Here are 3 things to check:

  • Are some page tags missing? If new templates were implemented and your traffic is collected using page tags, was care taken that the new templates were fully tagged? Perhaps your traffic isn’t missing but simply unrecorded.
  • Did you revise your page names, or did you implement a new content management system, without rewrites or redirects? Are your page names (URIs) different? If yes, did you take care to either re-map your new URIs to the old addresses or redirect popular old URIs to new URIs? Your missing traffic may be heading to “page not found”. Check the number of 404 errors, or your broken links report if your web analytics tool provides this report.
  • Has your re-designed site been crawled deeply…yet? Check your server-side logs for crawler activity. Your new site may not have been indexed yet. Did you submit XML sitemaps to the search engines (more at

Don’t forget to review your acquisition traffic from referrers other than search engines. If you have lost significant referrer traffic due to deep links into your site (which are now broken), assign some resources to advise these sites of the change in address, as well as the improved experience their audience will have when visiting your site.

You may want to ramp up pay-per-click temporarily to fill the gap in acquisition traffic, buying keywords that previously performed well organically.

Rather than concentrating on regaining your overall acquisition traffic numbers, concentrate on regaining traffic from your highest converting organic keyword phrases first. With better site architecture and usability, conversion should be even higher than before, on a landed visit basis.

Any other thoughts or suggestions?

June Li


By |2018-07-25T13:51:09-04:00April 30th, 2007|4 Comments


  1. Robbin May 3, 2007 at 7:25 am

    And then maybe, you haven’t optimized your site for the search engines. Your new CMS doesn’t allow you to have unique title tags. You haven’t done keyword work. You haven’t cared about SEO.

    Or, you haven’t directed your PPC campaigns to your new site.

    In fact, wouldn’t the first step be to see if you have some page with no traffic (your point out about page tags missing.) Is it is your organic traffic down, your ppc, your direct, your referrals.

    Segmentation really rocks, no?

  2. June Li May 3, 2007 at 9:23 am

    Great comments, Robbin. Many thanks.

    Even when there’s been care taken with SEO, titles, PPC landing page remapping, some other tasks needed for a smooth transition can trip up a site, precisely because they are “non-routine’.

    Segmentation does rock, and in this case, you might even have to use a different analytics tool to complete the segmentation analysis.

    Some pages with no traffic may actually have no traffic. Or there may be a new web page element that is impeding proper page tag function.

    If the page tags are not missing but are not recording, check your server logs. If the server-side logs show a human visit, but the tag doesn’t, that’s reason for more digging.

    [A bit of a sidetrack, but here’s another good reason for also having a way to quickly analyze server side logs. You don’t have to use the same web analytics vendor on your server logs as your page tagging. All you’re after is a means to quickly view activity/no-activity.]

    Also, as part of post go-live quality control, check once again for broken links within the site. People don’t like broken links and neither do crawlers. Are your 404 errors up?

  3. Joseph Carrabis May 16, 2007 at 12:23 pm

    It was great to see you in SF.
    One aspect not mentioned in your post and Robbin’s response is that regular visitors might not recognize or accept the new look and feel of the site. This is one reason I advise clients to warn regular visitors that a site redesign in taking place, and even to give a date for when the redesign will be implemented. I think I explain this in Usability Studies 101: Redesign Timing IMedia column.
    Just a thought. – Joseph

  4. June Li May 16, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    Valuable point! Traffic may be down due to on-site traffic, not traffic coming to the site. As Robbin says, “segmentation rocks”…segment to discern the cause of traffic decline before jumping to conclusions about the root cause…

    From your article, Usability Studies 101: Redesign Timing, I like your description of the impact of “debranding”…

    “Debranding occurs on websites when enough of the website is changed so that acquired navigation patterns no longer apply.

    “Debranding, which happens when website visitors find it easier to shop elsewhere than continue on a site they were previously loyal to, can sometimes be traced back to website rebuilds or redesigns done without alerting previously loyal visitors to changes before they occur.”

    Enjoyed chatting with you at SF!


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