SEO Transition Plan? You Need One and Here’s Why
It’s launch day for your glorious new website! You’ve spent months (or years) working on it. New sitemap and navigation? Check. Engaging content? Check. Custom photography, beautiful design, calls to action, mobile responsiveness, and thoroughly tested on multiple platforms? Check, check, and double-check.
Seems you’ve covered all of your bases – unless, of course, you care about the critical search engine rankings you’ve built having your domain name and website live on the internet for many years. That search engine equity can be crushed in an instant (which can severely impact your organic search traffic and greatly reduce the number of visitors to your new site) as soon as you launch a new website that doesn’t account for a good SEO transition plan.
SEO is Search Engine Optimization and relates to actions you can take on your website to grow and maintain the quantity and quality of your unpaid website traffic by increasing your visibility and rankings within search engines.
I see it all too often: companies (or their web development partners) do not include (or maybe even realize) the importance of this critical step in launching a new website. Let me walk you through a real-life example so you can better appreciate the issues that can occur if SEO is not considered during the programming of a new website.
A client came to us with a site that had been created overseas and, unfortunately, the programming of the website made it appear to search engines like it was a single page (even though it was a large site with many product pages). The result was that there was no way to have search engines index and link to pages within the site past the homepage. When you build a site, you want to be able to “deep link,” which means hyperlinking to other specific content/product pages and having those pages searchable and indexed by search engines. Viewers should be able to link directly from search engines to the relevant content on your website and not have to always go through the homepage of your website. By not allowing deep linking, this killed all aspects of SEO for this website and we needed to completely re-program it.
What to Keep In Mind When Transitioning Your Website’s SEO
Keeping up your positive SEO and domain authority when you move from one site to another means maintaining your site’s visibility and position within search results. This is incredibly important when it comes to your clients or prospects being able to find you. If you’re wondering whether or not you’ve accounted for all-things SEO, here are some red flags to avoid:
Bad Search Engine Links
Your new website may have a different URL structure than your current site, and it is critical that you redirect current search engine links to their new URL locations. Without doing this critical step, search engines will have bad links in their directory for your website, resulting in 404 errors (Page Not Found). Bye-bye current search equity.
No-Index, No-Follow Settings
Some companies choose to have their development site live on the internet for internal users to be able to view, test, and provide feedback. With these settings, the hope is that this development site will not be picked up by search engines. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work this way. For this reason, we highly recommend any development or staging sites always be password protected so search engines can’t get to them. The real issue occurs if these no-index and no-follow settings are accidentally left on when the site is launched, thus killing the SEO rankings.
Make sure you have user-friendly URLs that people and search engines will understand. Avoid gibberish URLs with no specific meaning to the viewers of your website, such as: https://www.companyURL.com/?id=1980&sid=1.
A Lack of Site Security
All sites need to follow good security practices, such as having an SSL digital certificate, or your website is docked points by search engines who see it as being unsecure.
Poor Mobile Responsiveness
Approximately half of all website traffic is mobile, and in order to get good search engine rankings, your website has to be mobile-friendly. Since May of 2016, Google has continued to place greater emphasis on mobile-friendly pages and will penalize your website’s ranking if your site is not responsive.
Domain Name Change
Companies don’t often change their primary domain name, but I have seen more than one company attempt it and it really hurt their SEO rankings. Your name is the most important piece of your branding; it’s quite literally how people know you. Your domain has built up a lot of equity over the course of all the time it has been around. Changing it strips you of all of that positive SEO you’ve built up.
Improper Coding and Asset Sizing
Make sure the coding and assets on your site are working and optimized. For example, if you upload large file size images and those take a long time to load, this can hurt your search rankings. You also want to make sure you don’t have missing pages or bad links on your website as these will negatively affect you as well.
As you can see, there are many factors that can affect your search engine rankings, and they are all important. Once you have built up high rankings for your target keywords, you do not want to have to start from scratch again. So, when you are transitioning from an outdated website to a new one, you need to make sure that a top priority is your SEO Transition Plan. This plan needs to be part of your website project and integrated throughout. It should definitely, definitely NOT be an after-thought.
Need assistance putting together your SEO transition plan? We’re happy to help. Reach out to us at (248) 687-7888 or inquiry@mediaG.com and we’ll guide you in making sure your bases are covered regarding SEO.