Today we walked through best practice tips for approaching and planning a website redesign without sacrificing any of the SEO value you currently hold on the search engines. When most businesses go through a redesign, making your site look attractive, flashy, and cool can often blind your eyes to SEO and search engine friendliness.
Let’s take a look at a few important rules to keep in mind when you launch your website face-lift.
Q: Where should you start?
A: Undergo a complete site audit and use Webmaster Tools to analyze your crawler stats. An easy way to check how often Google is crawling your site, view your cache and identify the last crawl date and time stamp. It is a good sign if you see Google is crawling your homepage once a week.
You should also complete keyword research to identify the pages that currently bring the most traffic to your site. Are enough people searching on your target keyword phrases? Identify the traffic on each keyword and carry the keyword phrases to your new site that draw the most traffic. It is important to not lose this keyword value!
Q: How should you deal with changing URLs?
A: Be sure to use 301 redirects and not 302 redirects. For a permanent structure change, search engines much prefer a 301 redirect on an old URL. With 301 redirects, search engines will eventually transfer the complete value of all inbound link value from the old URL to your new URL. It typically takes about 1-3 months for the full SEO value to translate to the new URL. It may be easier to create a 302 (temporary) redirect because some IT departments prefer that method. However, when it comes to SEO, you will lose all the inbound link power to your old URL if you don’t properly reassign the link to your new site with a 301 redirect. With a 302, Google will expect to keep crawling the old site.
A: Google needs to know that you have a new page. How do you go about it? First, carefully structure internal hyperlinks that will direct to that new page or section. Google discovers new pages as they crawl other sections of your site and find the link pathways. Establish content silos that are clearly linked together through an organized navigation structure. This will help search engines to understand the changes that are happening and learn the new pathway to crawl moving forward.
Q: What happens if you forget to make a redirect?
A: This will not be a problem if you have a proper 404 Error page established before launch of your new site. If you make a mistake on one of your redirects, a 404 Error page will act as your safety net. It will catch all of the redirects that you may have missed while engaging your visitor with an entertaining message to make the browsing experience more pleasant.
Thank you for your participation today and we look forward to seeing you on our next webinar coming up on Friday, September 16th. Register today for our PPC & Social Media session: “Secrets to Great Facebook and LinkedIn Ads.” Have a great rest of your week!