Want to see your website traffic and rankings go to the TOILET??  Of course not….

So then….How do you maintain rankings after you Redesign your website?

After doing some research on this concern, I recommend you do the following:

Website redirects:

  • You must try to keep as many existing URLS, the site structure, page file names, including categories, as much as possible.  If you cannot, I highly suggest, in fact demand you do the following 301 redirects:
  1. Any pages with special status (i.e., Customer Support etc..) that make them important to our business….301
  2. Your top entry pages…301
  3. Your top most popular pages…301

Internal Links:

  • After you redesign, and before it goes live, you should have your IT department (or your brother) run a link validator to be sure all internal links have been updated properly, and there are no broken links.

File Not Found Page:

  • If you unfortunately have broken links, visitors will land on a “file not found” page more than usual after a redesign.  You need to make sure this custom page explains the situation, such as “To Serve Our Customers Better, We Have Redesigned Our Website”.  You DO NOT want it to say “404” Error, or “the URL you typed is incorrect”.  If you do not do this, customers and search engines will lose confidence in your site.

Site map:

Back up old site:

  • If you change your directory structure,  you will need to back-up the whole site first, make our changes, and then completely delete the old directories. If you leave pages behind in the new site, this will hurt our rankings.  To the search engines it looks like our site is all busted up. Basically pages like this are called orphan or “Doorway” pages, and are considered “BlackHat”. Google especially hates this and could penalize or ban your site.

Timing:

  • Do everything at once. Please don’t take the old site down and put the new one up a couple days later and then setup the redirects, cmon, think about it. Switch within minutes, if you don’t it’s  going to confuse the bots.

Conclusion:

  • From what I have researched,  if you follow the above suggestions (My Perspective)  you can salvage most of your rankings,  in fact, some sites I have read about have had no drop at all because they re-designed with clean code, implemented new technology, made all links readable etc..

BUT…………………………………………………:)

Expect to see a drop in visits, traffic, yadda yadda for 1-3 months until the search engines begin to find and rank the new urls.  You cannot do anying about this. The good news is if you redesign with new technology, make sure pages are W3C compliant; then you should see better organic traffic, conversion ratio and ranking. 

If you change the entire directory structure  (I do not suggest, but up to you) everyone including the owner, sales, webmaster, pretty much anyone and everyone who has ties to your website should fully understand that it will take time to get back to normal even implementing the above. 

Remember that Google and the other search engines  likes stable and aged pages.

This is how you can prevent your rankings from going down the toilet!!

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