Website age – we all know this. They need to be refreshed, redeveloped and given a fabulous makeover every few years. For those of you that haven’t changed your website in 10 years, you have my permission to squirm in your seats. Just like your offices need redecorating, your online presence needs to reflect who your company is today, not five years ago.
There is a problem with this though. Your poor SEO agency has been working for the last few years to get you ranking on Google, and has done a great job. You are happy, because your site comes up whenever you do a search for your products and services, and you are above your competitors (which is what you really wanted). Your website traffic is fantastic and your site generates more leads per month than the rest of your salespeople put together. Your SEO agency is happy because you pay them on time, and tell them they are superheroes. You aren’t doing this? You should.
I digress. You have now designed a beautiful new site and cannot wait to unleash the beast on the poor, unsuspecting general public. In your haste, you don’t consult your SEO agency. What happens?
Organic Rankings Tank After A Site Redevelopment
Why you ask? Do you remember your SEO agency telling you about linkbuilding? What do you think you pay them for every month? To send you pretty reports?
Most SEO agencies spend the vast majority of their time identifying important links that your site needs, and then going out to get them. These links don’t just go to your homepage – they can go to whatever page of the site makes most sense for that particular link. If they have answered a question on Yahoo!Answers about how to care for potplants, it wouldn’t make sense to link back to your homepage which deals with roses, would it? So there are links from other websites to all of the different pages in your website. That is part of what you have been paying your agency for. Those links are extremely valuable and a large part of why you are getting so many leads from organic searches.
So what happens when you redevelop the site? In most cases, your URLs change. For example your contact us page may change from www.mysite.co.za/contact-us.php to www.mysite.co.za/contact. They may look the same to you but to a web browser they are completely different. That means that any link that used to go to www.mysite.co.za/contact-us.php will now break. It gives no Google juice to the new site and is really just useless. All that money you spent on SEO over the last 8 years? It just evaporated in a puff of pink SEO smoke.
So How Do You Keep Rankings After Launching?
You need to make sure that there are 301 (permanent) redirects for each and every URL that you were ranking organically for on the old site. The old URL needs to redirect to a page on the new site that mirrors or closely mirrors the content on the old site e.g. if the page on the old site dealt with used BMWs then make sure you aren’t sending it to a page on the new site that deals in second hand care finance.
Also make sure that the metadata on the new site is optimised in a similar way to the old site, or copy the title, description and keyword meta tags from the old site to the corresponding pages on your new site.
To keep your sites organic heartbeat ticking and to ensure a smooth transition, rather contact your SEO agency before you launch the new site. For everyone’s sanity.