Version 2: Relaunching a Site: SEO Considerations

Feb 12, 2007 • 7:04 am | comments (6) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under SEO - Search Engine Optimization
 

There is a really nice thread at Cre8asite Forums about how to prepare for a relaunch of an existing site. The specific site at hand is an outdated site that is going to be completely redone. That includes the URL and directory structure. Yes, changing a directory and URL structure can be murder for sites that already rank well. So what can you do?

301. Figure out a clear and logical old URL to new URL mapping structure. This gets more complex with larger sites that are not database driven. But if a site is database driven, it should be possible to figure out a URL structure and map that dynamically to your new one. Then 301 those old URLs to the new URLs.

404. Setting up a custom 404 can be a huge help to the search engines and your users. No matter what you do, when you set up a brand new URL structure - pages will be lost. So setting up a page that gives users who land on pages that no longer exist a way to navigate to the page they want, is important. Also, this page will serve as a tool to tell the search engine that the page can now be removed from their index. They will appreciate that.

Analytics. If you can look at your web analytics and determine what are your top pages driving traffic - that would be helpful. Often when this is the case, it may be best to use a mod_rewrite on those specific pages and maintain the same URL structure for the five, ten, twenty, even hundred pages that are sending you the most amount of traffic. Changing these URLs, is also doable with a proper 301 but you can and most likely will a lot of traffic from search engines with the URL change over the short term. So it is a judgement call on a URL by URL basis - but you need those analytics to decide. Bill Slawski adds a list of what you should look for in your stats:

  • What keyword phrases are bringing you traffic.
  • What sites are sending you visitors.
  • What audiences are being targeted on which pages.
  • Which important pages on other sites are linking to which of your pages.
  • What affiliates/partners/friends/advertisers are bringing you traffic.
  • What directory listings might you be able to change.
  • What directory listings might you be able to add.

There are things you can do prior to the switch over that should be done. Such as notify your affiliates and those sites that you know that link to you. Hopefully they can schedule in to change any links they have given you, to change to the new URLs when you make the switch. Of course, this is often wishful thinking. So garnering that data and then contacting them over and over again, maybe be something you want to do. Data is crucial here.

No matter what you do, you will see a drop in traffic. But often these URL changes are long term things and in the long run, you should see an increase. How long is long term? Could be over a year.

More tips and ideas at Cre8asite Forums.

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Comments:

Search Engines WEB

02/12/2007 01:03 pm

<blockquote>////Yes, changing a directory and URL structure can be murder for sites that already rank well. So what can you do?</blockquote>Depending on the site and on the individual circumstances - it is sometimes productive to keep the original URLs - sometimes they be re-used as additional image galleries of products - or customer reference letters - or press release archives etc As long as the new content is generally related to what was originally on them

Barry Schwartz

02/12/2007 01:18 pm

I said that SEWeb. <blockquote>it may be best to use a mod_rewrite on those specific pages and maintain the same URL structure for the...</blockquote>

Jamey Miller

02/13/2007 02:13 pm

Thats interesting, I just took on a consulting job that deals with this topic. What my client is doing is changing shopping carts, switching from an .asp cart to a .php cart with static html pages. I am optimizing the site as well as transfering links by 301 redirects. Should I be worried about switching from asp to php and should i be worried about redirecting asp pages to static html pages?

Barry Schwartz

02/13/2007 02:19 pm

The shopping cart or the catalog pages?

Rob Abdul

02/14/2007 02:47 am

301, 404, and Analytics is excellent advice! I recently created my own CMS and deployed it to re-launch the www.acorns.org.uk website. This site used to be a flat html site. It had a good PageRank and received around 1000 visits form Google daily. I used Google Sitemaps that allowed me to tell GoogleBot that my link and directory structure had changed via a XML sitemap file located at the root of the server. Google Sitemaps is an excellent SEO tool. This site had retained its traffic and PR from Google.

Tatty A.

11/20/2007 06:41 pm

More that a comment I have a question. I have to do SEO for a site which has another site in the same website let say www.tatiarguello.com is a site but exists another one in the same one let say www.tatiarguello.com/dancer/home.html...but the hosting company are telling my client that there is no problem with it, but I know there is a problem there. What do you suggest me to do about it? Thanks a lot

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