Yes it does, but it would be difficult to say if it would be likely to be a significant effect in your case.
Did your redesign involve changing any URLs or the structure of menus or links between pages on the site? I'd say they'd be more like to cause what you are seeing.
Not that I'm aware of, although I only really started with the company about a month before the new site was launched so I wasn't involved in any of the planning stages. I have asked the IT manager and he said he's under the impression that it was a like-for-like switch.
There have been some changes but none of the URLs to the pages that were previously attracting a lot of traffic have changed, meta data and keyword density have not changed a great deal.
Also if keywords and links are so important WHY when I search for a certain search term do we appear 7th when some of the sites in the top 6 have:
Less links than us (and it's not even like the links are a better quality or PR than those linking to our page, in fact 1 site has 0 links)
And do not feature that term anywhere (or if they do, to a lesser extent than our page):
- in the title
- in the body
- in the H1/2/3
- meta description
- meta keywords
[edited by: emmab21 at 3:00 pm (utc) on Sep 16, 2010]
How do you know this for sure? Google's reporting of backlinks isn't great in my experience. And it's also probably more to do with quality not quantity.
|I have asked the IT manager and he said he's under the impression that it was a like-for-like switch. |
what kind of an answer is that? Oh, wait, I think that means, "You need to find another IT guy..."
Do you have access to google analytics? Can you tell if there has been a major shift in the landing pages since before and after the updates?
Was there a major shift in the keywords that were used to find your site?
Is the linking structure still the same? or were there changes to any sitewide (like category tree) links, or changes to breadcrumb links?
Thanks Planet. I have noticed that the breadcrumb navigation has not been copied across from the old website so I will work on implementing this again.
I wanted to run something by you guys, mainly because no one else in the company understands SEO and frankly I need guidance as to whether I'm taking a good risk or not.
I looked at the text only cached version of our website and noticed that the quote tool was meaning that Google was also seeing loads of extra text on every page before the actual copy regarding the page subject was kicking in, (as well as the extra code in the HTML). I'm guessing that's why we're getting different pages showing up in our most visited compared to the old site.
So I have changed the button to strip out all the coding and extra text. When I checked on analytics this morning I nearly had a heart attack to see that visitors to the quote page are down 50% on the day before (but conversion is only down about 0.5%). My knee jerk reaction was to change switch it back but I've noticed Google has not re-crawled the site.
My gut feeling is to keep the new quote button until our site has been re-crawled in the hope that the most visited pages will return to those that are driving the better conversion rates but I'm nervous that my boss is gonna kick my behind!
|visitors to the quote page are down 50% on the day before (but conversion is only down about 0.5%) |
since no one else is offering any suggestions, I will just mention that can you check WHERE the previous visitors were coming from? Were you getting a lot of traffic from countries that wouldn't use your services anyway?
I also wanted to let you know that GA said that from september 13th to about the 24th that I got NO traffic from google images and NO direct traffic - so I am sure that GA screws the pooch from time to time.
Did bounce rate improve (I am guessing it must have if conversions were down only .5%)
Please keep us posted.
P.S. Did you check the wayback machine to see about different URLs compared to the new ones?
Weirdly bounce rate and exit rate have both increased. Traffic from yesterday is following the same trend as the day before in that typically page views are down 50% compared to before the changes were made.
BUT although over all site conversion has not increased and seemingly all the figures are nose diving, conversion rate of those people completing the online quote process is higher than it's been in months. There is no doubt I need to work on the aesthetics of the call to action, but I think Iím weeding out those people who have no intention of getting a quote from us.
Google have still not re-crawled the site but luckily I now have some data to show that the changes made are having some positive effect.
I have checked back to the old site and there is no change in any of the url paths so I think I can rule that factor out.
The geographic element of analytics is a difficult one because of the nature of the services we offer, it is applicable all over the world and we naturally experience fluctuation in this area.
|Weirdly bounce rate and exit rate have both increased. Traffic from yesterday is following the same trend as the day before in that typically page views are down 50% compared to before the changes were made. |
This sounds like a textbook case of a redesign gone wrong - either misguided or poorly executed.
If bounce rate and exit rate are up and conversions are down, that suggests there are more issues than just borked SEO with the site.
I think it's not all that rare that a decent, well coded site with good SEO be taken down for some absolute rubbish because a marketing manager with no technical knowledge wanted a different colour scheme/look or similar and thought that required a whole new website from scratch. The lack of understanding many developers have of proper site migration procedures is also frequently appalling. I think a lot of people underestimate the impact this sort of work can have if poorly carried out, I'm sure such things are directly responsible for the failure of a number of businesses.
As Planet 13 says, I wouldn't trust a vague response like that from an IT manager. Have you tried looking to see if there are any pages from your old site indexed at web.archive.org?
Even if link structure, menus, page titles etc have remained the same, there could be issues with the back end setup of the site or anything in a whole array of technical issues.
|There have been some changes but none of the URLs to the pages that were previously attracting a lot of traffic have changed |
It's probably more to do with pages that have a lot of backlinks, which may not be the same pages. Also, any pages where the URL changes and there are not 301 redirects to the new equivalent will act to some extent like black holes for link benefit that is being distributed around your site.
I think this whole idea (which I've seen a few times) of trying to force extra conversions by sticking things like "get a quote" forms at the top of every page is usually misguided. Website usability/conversion optimisation is way, way more involved and subtle than most people give it credit for. It really is not as simple as "shove it in their face and we'll get more conversions". Such tactics are likely to cause visitors to consider you as pushy and cause a bad impression before they have even read a word about your product/service.
|Also if keywords and links are so important WHY when I search for a certain search term do we appear 7th when some of the sites in the top 6 have: <snip> |
Never be so sure about the data you are seeing! Also, seeing SEO as a kind of top trumps is massively oversimplifying things - there are according to Google over 200 ranking factors and these will interact with each other in very complicated ways, including some which are 'negative signals'.
|It's probably more to do with pages that have a lot of backlinks, which may not be the same pages. |
You should go to a site like majesticseo and look at the inbound links to your site and make sure that they either still link to a page that still exists, or make sure there is a proper 301 redirect if the page doesn't exist.
And be careful with 301 redirects. Tedster has mentioned that he saw what he thought was a penalty by having 301 (moved permanently) redirects to irrelevant pages. If the page hasmoved, then you should do a 301 redirect.
But if the page just doesn't exist any more, make sure it is returning a 404 error, or re-create the page and make sure that it has links to a current page / section of the site.
Also, forgot to ask; have you seen big changes in the entrance keywords people use to get to your site?
Yeah there has been a big shift in the entrance keywords. I am seeing a lot more keywords that take people to our free resources and info pages (which we've got to add relevant and unique content) and less to the ones that are related to our services.
Thanks for the link site. I haven't come across this before, it's really useful! We have a full time link builder and this site has given me more information that she has in 5 months!
I clearly have a lot of digging to do now I have discovered this. Thanks for the help!