This Kind of Thing Really Happens!
We’ve experienced all of the situations below! You don’t have to tell us if you’re planning on changing your website but it’s kind of a good idea if you do … 🙂 And the earlier you tell us, the more we can protect your website traffic from disappearing.
Home page completely replaced without telling us
The website developer assured my client that a change of home page wouldn’t affect SEO so there was no need to tell me despite it being a radically different design.
Website blocked from Google
Website moved to new servers. The website developer (same one as above) assured my client that a change of servers wouldn’t affect SEO so there was no need to tell me. But what he forgot to do was remove the ‘disallow all agents’ command from the robots.txt file after setting up the site on the new server, thereby blocking Google’s access to the site. The site sank without trace – even for brand searches – before the MD called me in a desperate panic.
Content being dropped
This is one of the most common pitfalls overlooked. A surefire way to throw your traffic away is to throw large volumes of content away. In the rush to create a radically new site with completely different design from the old one, new pages were created and the site was built from scratch. When the old site was taken down lots of content was dropped. Nobody thought it was important that large sections of useful and productive content would not be carried across to the new site. In fact, nobody even asked the question because the design agency didn’t appreciate that this was a risk. Your content is an asset which took you years of painstaking hard work to create. It provided lots of useful information to your users, generated lots of useful traffic by appearing in search engines but it was ditched by your design agency, without consulting you, quicker than you could hear the phones stop ringing.
301 redirects not set up or not set up properly
Sometimes 301s are set up for the main pages but others are missed, meaning that PageRank is thrown away and broken links created. Typical loss of traffic 10%.
Website completely replaced without telling us
Unbelievable. The website developer told our client it wouldn’t affect SEO so there was no need to tell us. He also omitted to replace the Google Analytics tracking code and lost the SEO tags. Luckily I had them in a spreadsheet. I always keep an audit trail. 🙂
Unnecessary 301 redirects
Changing URLs means 301s have to be set up resulting in drop in rankings. If you change the URLs unnecessarily, this is throwing PageRank down the drain. An example might be changing www.example.com/blog/any-old-blog-post-title/ to www.example.com/any-old-blog-post-title/.
Old website miraculously reappears
The web developer didn’t know how this happened but it did happen and it took me a whole day to find the root of the problem. The issue only came to light because rankings and traffic both took a nose dive.
Google analytics code not replaced
In this situation we really have no idea whether you have any visitors or not! And there will remain a black hole in your data for the period of time until the tracking code is reinstated because the data cannot be recovered retrospectively.
SEO settings not carried across
If you didn’t tell us about your new site but have kept these somewhere safe, you can recover from this situation quite quickly. If aware of the redesign plans, we always run a crawl report of the old site to tabulate this data just in case. If you haven’t recorded these settings and your rankings dive, we’re not going to say “told you so”! Well, we might.
Not telling us about the other sites you’ve launched. They may be separate websites but they may be having a major impact on each other in Google, so we really need to know about them before you launch them. If you launched them long ago, we need to know about them even more quickly!
No migration plan or audit of old site
Look before you leap. Could there be some issues and risks of which you or even your web developer might not be aware?
Site redesigns carry major risks so they’re a big decision that should be carefully planned with your SEO provider. Even if you’re thinking of switching provider (but we hope you won’t), it’s still best to share your plans so that we can help you with the handover and/or migration.
Google’s advice on redesigns
What would Google say about SEO for website redesigns?
Well, Google says “If you’re thinking about hiring an SEO, the earlier the better. A great time to hire is when you’re considering a site redesign, or planning to launch a new site. That way, you and your SEO can ensure that your site is designed to be search engine-friendly from the bottom up. However, a good SEO can also help improve an existing site.”
See our blog post about When to Start SEO.
How to Tell if Your Expensive New Website is Useless – from Conversion Rate Experts.
Do You Need an SEO? – from Google Inc.
How to Avoid SEO Disaster During a Website Redesign – by Corey Morris via Search Engine Journal
How to Retain at Least 95% of Your Organic Traffic After a Site Redesign – by Neil Patel.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Updating Your Website Without Destroying Your SEO – by Richard Foulkes via Moz.com.
If you’re contemplating a website redesign, upgrade or makeover, the sooner you get an SEO involved, the better your chances are of emerging unscathed. Contact us as soon as possible to discuss your redesign.