Should I revert my permalink structure? Lost traffic & rankings after redesign
Familiar story here – I've got a WordPress site which had been getting around 300 visitors per day, but that dropped like a rock after some pretty comprehensive permalink & site redesigns at the tail-end of March
For example, what was once:
I should mention that I setup my 301 redirects properly with the Redirection plugin and recrawled the site, but it seems Google isn't fully satisfied. However, from a user experience perspective, it feels much more logical and even scaleable to me.
Also, sites like SEMrush & even a search of my site on Google shows the new structure is beginning to show up
My question is.. do you think I should revert to my old permalink structure, or (since it's been almost 30 days now) should I just ride it out seeing as the band-aid is already torn off
I'm more so from the paid ads side, now getting into Search Engine Optimization (SEO), so definitely appreciate any insights and feedback
Have you crawled the site and checked internal linking?
XML sitemap should have the new URLs where you redirected your URLs and submit it to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster. This will ensure both Google and Bing about your new URLs to be considered for indexing (ranking in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs)).
Oh good call about Bing – I'd forgotten to re-submit a sitemap to Bing.. I'll definitely get on that
First, it's only been a month. If this is still an issue 3 months from now then you have a problem. I know you don't want to wait 3 months, but that's the truth.
What happened is really 2 issues impacting you. The first is the redesign. The code used to render your site changed substantially enough that Google has to recrawl and re-index your site.
But then you somewhat complicated it by changing the URL structure on what I guess is most of your site's content. Say 80% – I don't know the exact number, but let's say 80%
So if 80% of your URLS have changed, along with the code used to render the page, Google has to recrawl and re-index everthing. Even with correct 301 redirects, the engines are cautious. They don't know if you've hacked the site and are maliciously redirecting, or are legitimate.
So they crawl, and recrawl and recrawl some more to make sure no further changes happen.
Once they're satisfied that this is now the new and correct site, you'll see rankings (And ultimately traffic) start to improve. You likely won't regain everything, but most should come back.
I'm kinda in the same boat as you – I re-launched my site with new design about a month ago too. I've had a few important rankings disappear, but I'm already seeing some return. They aren't quite back to where they were but they move up every few days.
Glad for you that your site traffic is beginning to return. At what point would you suggest I think about reverting the permalinks in case traffic doesn't pickup? Perhaps at the 3 month mark?
Assuming everything else is correct, yes.
30 days isn't enough. You've now given the posts some context (the categories) that Google can pick up on, understand, and rank with. The problem is that it takes time for this to happen.
If the categories are GOOD and RELEVANT and the content within is related by that category subject – it'll only help in the long run.
Stay the course.
If you just randomly picked categories and kinda slapped things in there just because having a category is supposed to help… then it won't help. But then again, it won't hurt either. It'll still take Google a while to actually figure out what the changes "mean" though.
In my opinion, your previous url structure was better because the keyword density and proximity was higher.
In practice, this probably has very little(if any) effect on rankings, but it's one of those things that I care about because I'm really particular about every little thing.
It may be worth the trade-off(if there even is a difference) for a more navigable content drilldown report in analytics though. But usually not for me.
I'll usually opt for the flatter url structure because it allows for that tiny little extra bit of keyword density, proximity, and readability.
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