The overlooked popular pages
Looking at Google Analytics during the discovery process has become standard, but most of the time just to get a general overview about who visits the site, what areas are visited the most - which areas are not. What should also be part is to look what pages get the most visits through Google search and how much do they contribute to bring visitors to the site.
You might be surprised to see that many websites have just a couple of pages that bring most of the visitors. If this pages bring in relevant customers than these pages must be conserved to not kill the website after the redesign.
By conserving I don’t mean that you can’t change the functionality and the design - but most of the copy and especially the title must be treated with utmost care. And by title I don’t just mean the title of the text shown on the web page.
Learning the hard way
I had to learn it the hard way - during the redesign of my own website I used a cool new “ajaxy” load content into the page style and forgot that to adjust the title tags for every page. The result - all pages had the same HTML-Page Title.
Google obviously updated the title and one of my pages which ranked #2 for a popular search dropped out of the top ten to the second page. The generic title doesn’t help either for people seeing my page in that search result as well, so no one actually cares to click on the page anymore. From 500 a day to 0 in 24 hours.
I guess it will take quite some time to recover from this even now that I fixed the problem.
To summarize: When redesigning a website, optimize the copy, the content and the design - but handle with care those pages that already work well.
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