I RECENTLY SWITCHED OVER to a new site design and layout.
And while I’m very happy with the new look, I noticed that the switch to a new site design has also affected my web statistics in a negative way.
Ironically, while visits have dropped, my Alexa Rank has improved, which is always good.
But, this has caused me to re-evaluate the need to switch layouts in the future. And, so my attitude towards a new look currently remains a bittersweet pill to swallow.
So, let me take a little time to outline some thoughts regarding the possibility that a new site design (or relaunch) can negatively affect a blog’s site statistics.
Let’s take a few minutes to look at these factors.
1. Changing Navigation
What I think happens is that Google has to re-index this new navigational structure, and thus can negatively affect the search rankings of various pages on the site.
This, however, might be a temporary issue as once Google re-indexes the new navigational structure, Google will once again lead visitors to the pages on the site.
A good strategy is to make sure your Google Site Map is updated, so that Google’s search bots will have an easier time re-indexing your site. Here’s a great site to help you create a Google Sitemap.
But, I like to use the Simple Google Sitemap plugin, which makes it extremely easy to update your Google Sitemap from the WordPress Admin area, and you have a few settings to fine-tune the task.
2. More Images
One must be careful when either designing a new layout or purchasing a new site design. Usually, web designers who sell site designs want to make them look pretty and appealing, so that customers will buy them. This is a natural tendency, since people are often attracted to beautiful design involving lots of images.
But with a new layout or site design comes the possibility of having more images that need to be loaded by the web browser, and this usually translates to longer load times, turning away visitors (especially if they are on slower internet connections).
It’s important to optimize images and not have too many images on any given page which would slow down load times. In Internet time, seconds could feel like an eternity. I think we all know this.
For optimization, I use the EWWW Image Optimizer plugin, which can optimize images as you upload them to your blog, or you can optimize with the WordPress Admin area.
3. Visitors Might Not Like It
Of course, there’s the posibility that your readers and new visitors might not like the new site design. In that case, they might just go somewhere else as there’s a lot of other places to check out on the Web!
The only solution for this is to re-tweak and fine-tune the site, and experiment while checking your web statistics. Or, try out another site design.
With the switch to a new layout, I also switch to StatCounter.com for my web statistics, which is easily accessible via the web browser. I’ve been using SiteMeter for years but I noticed that the service was down frequently in recent weeks, which obviously affected my web statistics. So, I might be letting SiteMeter go soon.
4. WordPress Plugins
In the world of WordPress (in which I am a devoted webmaster), it is a world that abounds in plugins, those additional objects of code that enhance a blogs functionality. But, too many WordPress plugins can affect the load times of your blog, and when the site slows down, the visits usually slow down, too.
When a webmaster relaunches a new site design, chances are that new plugins were launched as well, in the effort to improve the site. This can slow down site performance.
The best thing to do is to monitor site performance by occasionally doing a Website Speed Test to check the speed in which your web pages load.
Hopefully, my site’s performance and web statistics will improve. And I will let everyone know how things progress in the next few weeks.
Note: I’ve recently been using CloudFlare, which improves site performance and includes added security against malicious spammers and hackers. I recently wrote a post about CloudFlare and I’m quite happy with the service so far.