Site Migration issues: Traffic Dropped?
As a digital marketing and SEO agency, we deal with site traffic every day. We monitor site traffic for our clients on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, constantly tracking, analysing and adjusting according to the data we see.
Although digital marketing is a relatively young industry, an SEO agency has the digital tools and enough experience to know what could be the issue when you suddenly lose traffic unexpectedly. Site migration is one of those key pivotal moments in your digital marketing journey. It can offer huge potential benefits but – as with any disruptive process – there can be teething problems.
Here are some of the ways a digital marketing and SEO agency troubleshoots a drop in traffic following website migration.
Weed out common issues with a crawler
A crawler is basically a bot that ‘crawls’ the internet and indexes websites and web pages. This is basically the tech behind search engines – it systematically combs the internet and analyses it to decide what questions it answers or needs it meets.
Using a specialised web crawler to analyse your website can flag up any basic issues which may be preventing people from finding your site as easily as before.
A scan can flag issues such as broken links, duplicate content, redirects, metadata and txt blocked URLs.
Screaming Frog is a popular site crawler, and the big SEO names such as SEMrush and Moz also have their own crawlers.
Before any major changes to a website, including migrating it, it’s important to do a big scan and make sure everything is properly backed up. Save the HTML/layout of your website before any redesigns or site migration.
Have specific pages lost ranking?
If so, visit the pages and check the canonical tags. Have they been changed in a way that could cause a dip in visits? Are they pointing to non-relevant pages? Are there broken links or old URLs? What about programming issues?
A common issue an SEO agency sees is the loss of meta data when migrating a website. This is where your crawler scan can shed light. Check the meta title and description for your website. Are they still accurate? If not, amend or add these back in.
This is where that site back up can come in handy and prevent you having to change all the meta titles and descriptions manually. It’s possible, but fairly labour intensive.
Loss of traffic could be down to how quickly (or indeed, slowly) your website is loading for users. We have less and less time to capture a visitor’s attention. Anything more than a couple of seconds and they are likely to move on, denting your traffic. The user experience is more and more important with each passing year.
Google’s Page Speed Insights is a handy tool here. If you changed servers or did a full site migration, slower page speed could be hitting your traffic.
Verify the CDN was part of your website migration. Is it working correctly?
Check your caching system is in place and working as it should.
Is your new server allowing the site to load quickly?
A simple thing but so easy to overlook in a site migration. Are all your internal links pointing to the right pages in your site, or do they link to the old website? Check and fix all internal links.
Can search engines find you easily?
Google’s Search Console can help you check for errors or issues with URLs. Log in and click ‘Index’ then ‘Coverage’. You’ll be able to see what if any issues in your website URL structure and can fix them on the spot.
Are site redirects broken?
Broken redirects are a common problem after migrating a website. This is why it’s so important to have a 301 redirect plan in place before a move. Put simply, search engines don’t know where your new site is, so can’t redirect people to it when they click your URLs.
Head back to your site crawler to find any redirect loops, verify redirect chains, and make sure old URLs point to your new ones, using 301 redirects.
Use a site crawler to analyse all your old URLs to make sure all start URLs are accurate and correspond with accurate destination URLs.
Has external link building been lost?
Links to your website from good, relevant websites is a great way to build organic SEO. It also leads to potential headaches once you migrate your sites, if these sites don’t update the URLs they are linking to, if needed.
Broken or old links can hurt traffic from these valuable external sources. It may be worthwhile redirecting these links to a page of your new site.
Have you moved to a new platform or server?
Again, any major shifts can be disruptive. They can hit your site speed, crawlers can be blocked by firewalls and you may encounter country restrictions which didn’t affect you previously.
This is why it’s well worth testing platforms and servers before you make a big move, rather than after.
Have you redirected image URLs?
Check to make sure your image URLs are linking to the right images and to your new domain post migration. If images drive a lot of traffic to your site, it’s important to make sure these are all redirected properly. If you used CNAME to create your own URLS, make sure image URLs point to your new server and site.
Have there been any Google updates?
Any SEO agency will tell you that Google’s updates to their algorithms can cause major headaches! It may well be that this time it’s not you – it’s them.
An SEO agency will use tools such as Google Analytics to track changes in organic search and SEO performance. It’s important to make sure you are collecting and analysing site data before any site migration. You need to be able to benchmark against what is normal for your website.
Although there are tools which help troubleshoot, there are rarely any truly ‘quick’ fixes in SEO. Be systematic in analysing and correcting issues. Then, make sure to track traffic for long enough to conclude whether changes help or hinder.
Our agency specialises in digital marketing and SEO, so any companies struggling with traffic problems with site migration, please get in touch and we’ll do our best to help.