New site is so much better, but no one wants to come!
April 12, 2012 12:45 PM   Subscribe

Replaced an old website with a new (better?) version in Wordpress and traffic went down. Why?

I replaced an antiquated website with nearly non-existant SEO. Things like URLs ending in "?p=43". I put in a Wordpress setup with an SEO plugin, etc. Sitemap, Bread crumbs, URLs related to the content, etc. etc.

I would expect a huge improvement in SEO, yet the results when I view the visitors statistics show a dramatic decline in traffic. Most of the decline is specifically from Google traffic. The site has been seeing about half as much traffic over the past couple months since the switchover.

Why would this happen? And what can be done to at least get back to where it was? I can't imagine going to the old, difficult-to-navigate design makes any sense.
posted by doomtop to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Do all of the old links redirect to their new equivalents?
posted by stopgap at 12:47 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

What stopgap said, plus - have you created the XML sitemap and submitted it to Google so that the Google knows about all the new URLs (pages). [webmaster tools]

The googlebot will try and crawl the URLs it knows about (the ones in it's index). If the old URLs are gone, and the googlebot sees a 404, those pages may be pulled from it's index. The XML sitemap will ensure that Google has completely indexed your new site, usually within 10 days.

Try running the query at google . That will show you all the pages that Google knows about for your domain. If you're not seeing each and every page, plus the category and tags pages, then the site hasn't been indexed.
posted by bricksNmortar at 12:54 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

There's a very good chance that the meta description(s) may have changed due to the software; regardless of how good your pagerank is, absolutely no one is going to click on your link if the description in Google is a nonsensical mess.
posted by lobbyist at 12:56 PM on April 12, 2012

Yep - if you didn't handle the redirects properly you likely lost your accumulated Google pank rank from the old site. Also, Google has made some significant changes to the search algorithms recently, so there could also a simple coincidence of timing involved.
posted by COD at 12:56 PM on April 12, 2012

Response by poster: I didn't recreate the old pages and make the redirect. The way the site was made I am not familiar with, but I'm sure I can figure it out and I'll get on that. Is doing it so late going to make it futile at this point?

I did create the XML sitemap.
posted by doomtop at 12:58 PM on April 12, 2012

A lot of my site traffic came from spambots, making it harder to comment drove a lot of them away. Have you seen an equivalent reduction in your spam comment count?
posted by tommasz at 1:01 PM on April 12, 2012

Response by poster: The old site didn't have any sort of commenting. The new site has seen a few spam comment attempts, but not overwhelming.
posted by doomtop at 1:04 PM on April 12, 2012

Response by poster: Is there something I can just add to .htaccess that would redirect any request for a page that doesn't exist? Or would that not even be an appropriate solution here?
posted by doomtop at 1:11 PM on April 12, 2012

There is a redirection plugin that lets you setup redirects, but Wordpress should be forwarding to the new Permalinks already, assuming the IDs are the same as they were before.

Does going to http://your go to the correct page? Make sure 43 is an actual ID on your site (you can get the post is by looking at the URL when editing a page in the admin, or viewing source and looking for post- followed by a number).
posted by backwards guitar at 1:16 PM on April 12, 2012

I would use a refresh meta tag, but you'll need to make a static file for each page from the old site. I'm not super familiar with behind-the-scenes Apache setup, but you might be able to make an array of the link concordances and use mod_rewrite (or whatever) to give HTTP 301 codes.
posted by stopgap at 1:17 PM on April 12, 2012

Best answer: DO NOT use meta-refresh. Even with a zero-second timing, they're still seen as spammy and will get you de-indexed quick. There's NO REASON not to use real 301 redirects. The Redirection plugin does this.

Having done this a million times, my guess is that your old URLs don't match the new URLs in the way you think they are. You should set up Webmaster Tools, and go through the 404 list and create new redirects (using the plugin) that they're seeing in the index.
posted by chrisfromthelc at 1:37 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Is there an easier way of handling all the pages like "/articles.php?showarticle=1&article=68" besides going back and figuring out which article that was an redirecting to the new URL of that specific article? The new pages have logical names, but I have no idea which article is number 68 on the old site and the ID number is not the same on the new site.
posted by doomtop at 2:13 PM on April 12, 2012

posted by doomtop at 2:14 PM on April 12, 2012

Best answer: You could Google yourself to see if the the old URLs are still indexed or you could check The Internet Archive in case your old site got archived.
posted by Memo at 4:27 AM on April 13, 2012

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