“If you build it, they will come”. Common misquote of the voice in Ray Kinsella’s head in the movie Field of Dreams
The day you launch a new site on a new domain is very exciting. You post a few links to friends. You create a few back links from other sites and soon real people are viewing your content. A few weeks later, Google finds your site and you start to appear in search results. You work hard. You produce compelling content and get lots of media coverage with great back links. Suddenly you’re appear high in the Google search rankings for the terms you care about.
Business is booming and Google is sending you all the visitors you need – for free. You have a golden goose laying golden eggs. Happy days.
And then you realise your site doesn’t look so good. The styling is a little 2008 and you decide to have the site rebuilt.
STOP. NOW. That golden goose may not be pretty looking but you tinker with it at your peril.
The problem is that Google in general doesn’t care what your site looks like. It cares that it is relevant to its searchers. Relevancy has been built up over years of watching your site and indexing its content. Changing your design won’t hurt your Google rankings but most redesigns are lazy and will restructure your site without even asking you. New structure plonked down on your own site is like moving house and telling NO ONE you have moved.
No one would consider moving a physical shop without a planned process of informing customers where the new shop is. And your website is no different. Just as you would put a sign on then front door of your old shop saying where the new one is, so you need to with EVERY page on your website. Every page Google has indexed needs to be redirected to the new page. A big challenge as many ecommerce sites have thousands of pages. Especially if you don’t do it until after the new site is live.
So my top tips for redesigning your site are:
- Talk to an SEO and web marketing expert BEFORE you even commission an agency to redesign your site.
- If you can, keep your URL structure and naming IDENTICAL. Follow this rule and you will have no significant problems, as Google knows where everything is.
- If you must change structure, change it in a way that facilitates setting up rules to redirect your customers and Google to the new pages.
- Beware the design agency with a new fangled approach. Adopt a leading edge technology only if you can see people doing well in Google using that technology.
Preparation and timing are key. Get them right and the golden goose will hardly miss a beat.
Not a clue what I am talking about but worried your next site move is about to go horribly wrong? Contact Commvia for how we can help you plan for success.
Too late? Your site traffic has already tanked following a poorly implemented redesign? Contact Commvia as all may not be lost. We help you with remedial action plan to mitigate the worst problems.
“If you redesign it badly, no one will come. Your golden goose, is now a dead duck.” Andy Redfern, Feb 2014