SEO Tips When Switching to a New Website

Written by Nick Stamoulis

Whenever a client says that they want to redesign their website, we can’t help but shudder a bit. A big SEO ranking factor is the trust of your website. Making lots of changes to the website can result in some of the SEO trust being lost, especially if the migration to the new site isn’t implemented properly and some key components are overlooked.

Here are some guidelines to follow when making the switch:

Don’t forget the Analytics code

Every smart website owner should set up analytics on their site, specifically Google Analytics. The purpose of having a website is for it to get found online and Google is the most popular search engine. Google Analytics is a free tool that provides website owners with a wealth of information including traffic information, visitor sources, and keywords that generated visitors. When you are changing over to a brand new website it’s important that the Google Analytics code gets put on every page of the new site. It’s always important to have this data, but it’s especially important to have it when a site is re-launched. It allows you to compare the data from the old site to the new site. If it looks like there is a dip in traffic you can investigate why that might be.

Remove nofollow/noindex tag

Some website designers/developers will add this tag on the back end of a website while it is still in testing mode so that the search engines don’t crawl the site so that it won’t get indexed and compete with the “live” site. A better approach is to make the site password protected so that the search engine robots can’t access it. When you move the site over developers may forget to remove that nofollow/no index tag which essentially means that the site isn’t being crawled by the search engine spiders and isn’t going to rank in the search engines.

Always 301 redirect

When launching a new website certain pages of the site may no longer be relevant or necessary. That doesn’t mean that they should just be deleted. You never know if there are any links pointing to a certain page of your website. If the page is just removed, it will result in a 404 error if someone clicks over to it. This isn’t good from a usability perspective but it also isn’t good for the search engine spiders, because it looks like you have useless pages on your site. Spend time analyzing the pages that you are removing and 301 redirect them to a page that has similar content. If there is nothing similar, at least redirect it to the homepage.

Invest in SEO software

There are some great SEO software packages out there, like SEO Moz. SEO Moz mimics how Google looks at your website and can provide you with valuable technical information that you may never have been aware of otherwise. Keep an eye on SEO Moz after the re-launch to see if it comes up with any errors, like duplicate content errors, that could have happened due to a coding mistake.

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