Let's face it, websites are not forever. Over time, most websites start to show their age. It isn't that the site is breaking down, or that something wasn't maintained properly. It's that the internet continues to evolve around your website. Browsers remove features and search engines start to look for different things. Every few years, companies either update their existing websites, or depending on the infrastructure of the site, they may decide to migrate the site to a new one. Companies rely on consistent traffic to their site to drive leads for their sales team. While migrating, there is a risk of losing organic traffic if done incorrectly.
Here are a few tips to ensure that you are getting the most out of your new website without losing what you worked so hard for:
Domain forwarding is the process of ensuring the root domain forwards to the subdomain. Very similar to a redirect, as it automatically sends a user to a different address. A root domain name looks like this: nesbitmarketing.com, however a subdomain is viewed as this: www.nesbitmarketing.com. When domain forwarding is in place, your customers have the ability to type in the root domain. However, without domain forwarding, if "www." isn't entered, your customers will get an error. This also includes bots crawling your site, resulting in SEO ranking problems.
Ensure 301 Redirects Are in Place for changing URLs
301 Redirects are permanent redirect from one URL to another. Designed to help create seamless traffic to pages of your site, when a search engine or a user catalogs a link intended for an area of your site that moved or changed. Redirects are also necessary to inform search engines that your site added new pages, replacing older ones. Correctly utilizing redirects is imperative, ensuring a maintained SEO stature. If used incorrectly or missed entirely during a migration, you will see a big drop in your SEO rankings and subsequently, traffic.
Tip: A great way to prevent a missing redirect, is to map your old site prior to migration. This creates a reference point ensuring all aspects are applied to the new site.
Maintain the Identical HTML Markups
One of the main purposes of the markup code, H1, H2, metatags, etc., is to help search engines catalog your site. This places emphasis on the importance of maintaining identical markup language from one site to the next. Maintaining the same ALT tags for your images will also help search engines quickly re-crawl your site, keeping you in your existing positions. If you start to change the wording of your titles, or other markups, you will see a decline of your SEO rankings.
Maintain URL Structure on the New Website
It is imperative that you maintain the identical URL structure. URL, typically, follows a pattern to help indicate the site hierarchy. This also helps search engines understand where the page falls on a site map. When a URL structure is changed, it confuses the search engines. Everything from the .com, .net, or .org, at the end of your address, to the way that you handle sub sections of a site, can affect your search engine rankings. The issue that arises is there are different patterns that can be used.
This, of course, is an exaggeration to illustrate how different patterns can mean the same thing, though, look very different. If you keep your structure the same, search engines will not have to relearn your site map. Always use the same URL structure.
Keep Important SEO Pages Represented
Some pages lend themselves to having a lot of value to current SEO strategy. When new sites are built, creatives feel the need to, "clean up the page." While this is a great strategy, this shouldn't be completed by deleting pages. Make sure that you audit all of your pages, for SEO, prior to redesign. This guarantees that you keep engaging pages and continue to benefit from the existing SEO.
Bonus Tip: Submit an old site map to search engines
Submit an old sitemap to Google and Bing, once your new website is up. Your submissions will cause these search engines to re-crawl your old site, where they will see the new redirects and update the listing for the new site. This helps speed up the process and ensures redirects are doing their job.
There are many considerations when migrating to a new site. There are also opportunities in a new site. If successful, a new site can boost traffic quickly after a launch. However, if unsuccessful, it can lead to painful results. Make sure you consider these tips when migrating a site, mitigating the risk of lost SEO.
If you are considering building a new site or need to migrate to a new site, contact Nesbit Marketing: www.nesbitmarketing.com/contact