Learn
SaaS SEO

Three Clients Revamped Websites. It Tanked Their Traffic. Here’s Why

Toni Koraza
-
October 18, 2023
FREE SEO GUIDE
Three Clients Revamped Websites. It Tanked Their Traffic. Here’s Why

Imagine you’ve just revamped your website, expecting a surge in traffic, conversion, and revenue.

But your traffic drops like a ripe apple from a branch. And instead of gravity, you discover a migraine.

This was the reality for some of our clients. Across the board, every single one of them experienced a drop in traffic, conversions, and revenue.

A word from Google

Revamping your website will impact your rankings, according to search advocate John Muller.

“You can’t change everything and expect folks to act like nothing changed.”

You don’t want folk to treat your website like nothing changed. Instead, folk need to recognize the new website is built for them and will deliver the changes they seek.

An X (formerly twitter) thread
An X (formerly twitter) thread

Website Revamp: A Double-Edged Sword

Website revamp is the process of creating a new website and sometimes moving it to a new environment.

This could mean changing website builders, URL structures, and informational architecture.

For example, you decide your website has outgrown WordPress and decide to rebuild it on Webflow. The new website looks fresh, and internal teams love it.

While the reasons for revamps vary, the process is always tricky. The number of moving parts is too great for everything to go flawlessly perfect.

The stage of your business and risk appetite will dictate your willingness to revamp your website completely. If you have a strong and growing market position, you may choose to boil the frog slowly. If you have no traffic and nothing much to lose, you can outright just create a new website and restart your journey.

I recommend slow updates for larger sites with an established SEO presence, especially if SEO brings the majority of new business. If you don’t have a strong position, then anything goes.

Case #1: The Catastrophic 73% Drop and slow recovery

A graph showing a drop in users after a revamp
The significant drop — example #1

The first case study is a perfect example of a company that failed to consult an SEO agency before revamping its website.

The client had a clear plan. They wanted to refresh the look and feel of the website, remove old content, and publish new landing pages.

However, they made a crucial mistake. They pushed the website live before migrating URL structures and waited a whopping 8 weeks before creating redirects. They also removed their top-ranking content.

The result? Their website is yet to recover 6 months later fully, costing the client significant revenue.

Objective:

  • Refresh the entire design, remove content, and introduce new landing pages for increased traffic and conversions.

Mistakes:

  • Altered URL structure
  • Delayed creation of redirects by 8 weeks
  • Removed top-ranking content

Outcome:

  • A persistent 50% drop in traffic. The website is yet to recover 7 months later.

Case #2: The Rollercoaster Ride

A graph showing user activity over time
The rollercoaster ride — example #2

Our second client was more cautious.

They ran several consultation sessions with different agencies, ensuring the revamp went smoothly.

Despite their best efforts, they still faced a 40% initial drop in traffic.

But here’s the silver lining: three months post-revamp, their traffic is back to pre-revamp levels and going for a steady 30% MoM growth.

Their new content is beginning to rank faster, the new website looks fantastic, and conversions are starting to improve.

Approach:

  • Collect and follow expert advice for a smoother revamp:

Initial Result

  • 40% drop in traffic over three months

Silver Lining:

  • Traffic returned to pre-revamp levels after three months
  • Strong traffic growth
  • New content began to rank
  • Enhanced website aesthetics
  • Better conversions

Case #3: Redesign leads to plummeting conversions

A set of data showing the drop in users on 2023-09-01
The plummeting conversions — example #3

A brand-new design should mean a better user experience and more conversions, right?

The answer is a strong maybe: despite following best practices and maintaining the original URL structure, their conversions and tracking plummeted post-revamps.

Even with proper redirects and careful URL migration, the results were disheartening.

  • Page speed dropped
  • H1s changed
  • Losing rankings & traffic ~50%

The client is beginning to see signs of recovery, but it’s too early to see where their future is going.

Expectation:

  • Improved design for a better user experience and higher conversions.

Actions Taken:

  • Adhered to best practices.
  • Retained the original URL structure.
  • Implemented proper redirects for removed content.

Outcome:

  • A significant drop in conversions and tracking post-revamp.
  • The client has been in observable recovery, hoping this will lead to success down the road.

The Better Way to Migrate

Every business will have to refresh its presence to stay competitive.

Staying idle is a surefire way to fade into darkness. CEOs have to take risks to keep the business relevant, customers satisfied, and the company growing. Website revamps are just one of those hard decisions where execution is harder than creating a home-run vision.

If you’re thinking about a website revamp, please consider:

  • Lift & Shift method — recommended to young businesses and websites that don’t rely on a loyal user base for critical revenue.
  • Boil the Frog — recommended to established brands who want to keep their existing user base happy while improving their growth over time.

Lift & Shift: An instant Revamp

The Lift & Shift method involves pointing a new website to your old domain. In this case, you’re updating the entire website, adding new designs, new logos, and an entirely new user experience in one quick swoosh.

Building the website will take longer, but users will only see the instant transition to the new website.

When Lifting and shifting your website:

  • Ensure URL structures stay the same as on the previous website.
  • Create redirects for the URLs you exclude from the revamp. Landing on a 404 page is one of the most damaging things you can do to user experience.
  • Ensure content headers remain consistent to maintain SEO rankings.
  • Move to a faster environment. Improve loading speed, accessibility, and SEO, and simplify the informational structure of your website.

Boil the Frog: A Gradual Approach to Website Revamp

The evolution of the iPhone model

The ‘boil the frog’ method involves gradual changes to avoid shocking users while improving design, functionality, and overall growth potential.

Apple, Google, and just about every car maker are slowly introducing changes to their products through yearly iterations.

iPhone 14 and iPhone 15 look identical. But the iPhone 8 and iPhone 15 have almost nothing in common. Even the charging port is now different, the most stubborn of Apple’s components.

We can learn something from the biggest enterprises on the planet.

The evolution of the Google Chrome logo

Slowly refresh your designs to hedge the risk of major user rejection

Don’t alienate your existing user base in hopes of improving future growth.

Slowly updating the look and feel of your website will keep your existing user base happy while you gradually deliver changes. It also keeps your search potential in check and gives you time to roll back rejected updates without major setbacks.

Your team and supporting agencies will eventually assemble the grand vision, minimizing the adverse effects of a massive transition.

Here’s how to apply this to website revamps:

  1. Understand User Expectations: Retain key elements appreciated by users to maintain familiarity.
  2. Identify Improvement Areas: Pinpoint design aspects needing a refresh, such as color schemes or navigation menus. Maybe your website does not reflect the feel of other websites in your industry. This is a clear sign of a refreshing update.
  3. Gradual Implementation: Introduce small changes over time through minor updates rather than a full overhaul. Websites don’t need to invest years like iPhone makers to deliver changes. Rolling weekly changes over the course of several months will give you enough time to test the acceptance and minimize the chance of major rejection.
  4. Gather Feedback: Collect user reactions post-update to inform next steps and ensure positive reception.
  5. Continual Refinement: Incrementally refine the design, aligning with user feedback and emerging web design trends.

Boil the Frog method ensures a non-disruptive transition towards a modernized website. It helps businesses align with user expectations while introducing substantial improvements over time.

The Uncomfortable Truth

Every website revamp, no matter how well-planned, carries inherent risks in the short and medium term.

Nothing guarantees success. And the price for a fresh design? For many, they pay in months, if not years, of hard-earned digital marketing results, SEO traffic, and conversions.

Don’t take your website revamp lightly. It’s a necessary step in every business lifecycle, but one that should be approached with all seriousness.

Website revamps require meticulous planning, investment, and a willingness to face potential setbacks.

With the right approach and execution, your business will reach new heights while keeping the existing user base happy.

Our Best Articles on SaaS SEO

13 SaaS Keyword Research Methods To Rank #1 In 2024

13 SaaS Keyword Research Methods To Rank #1 In 2024

Want to rank #1 on Google search results? It takes more than content. Here are the 13 best keyword research methods that will help improve your rank in 2024.
Here’s How To Find the Right SEO Consultant

Here’s How To Find the Right SEO Consultant

Creating a killer SEO strategy takes a lot of time and effort. So, here’s how you can find the right SEO consultant to continue growing your business.
The SaaS SEO Strategy for Long-Term Growth

The SaaS SEO Strategy for Long-Term Growth

Learn how to market Saas tools — with minimum overhead. Attract more traffic, get more users signing up, and capture more leads for your business.
Enterprise SaaS SEO: The Complete Beginner's Guide 2024

Enterprise SaaS SEO: The Complete Beginner's Guide 2024

In this guide, master Enterprise SaaS SEO. With these strategies, unleash your potential, conquer challenges, and elevate your digital presence in 2024.
Link Building for SaaS Companies: The Ultimate Guide

Link Building for SaaS Companies: The Ultimate Guide

SaaS link building is a great way to improve your search rankings and boost awareness of your brand. Here are the some powerful strategies you can adopt today.

Related Services