Recently I’ve consulted on a number of website redevelopment projects. The most important learning to emerge from what can be quite a traumatic transition for a website is that of construct maintenance. Of principle consideration is site structure. Any renovation or extension to the old foundations should be applied in an intelligent, coordinated manner. It’s SEO 101; SEO basics that I’ve often remarked upon in this blog. What counts is clarity and precision of the content message, coupled with clean page coding and a unique permalink sitemap.
With a website already standing in good stead for search engine rank, it is paramount that the search engine optimisation effort retains and leverages that good will. With all of the attention on the redeveloped website, it’s easy to miss this trick in SEO by neglecting to carry over what has been built up over time on the old website. Often old web-pages can be discarded and forgotten about once the new site goes live, but search engines (and link referrals) don’t forget! The old URLs live on, if only as 404 errors “page not found”! This is a red alert to search engine optimisation professionals. A 404 is a brick wall to a search engine, do not pass, do not collect you pay-check! Instead, we must be aware to all the pages indexed in the search engine’s cache. Where new content no longer sits on the same URL page as before the redevelopment, a redirect rule needs to be in place, guiding visitors and search engine crawlers alike to the page we intend to house the information henceforth. Where web file names change, due diligence is required in signing off a comprehensive 301 redirect map, pointing legacy URLs with existing search prominence to new URLs of related, appropriate content.
This post by Widecast Marketing provides comprehensive, yet brief instruction on how best to migrate a website from Google’s Blogger platform to WordPress, something we at surfmerchant.ie followed successfully early this year. Of all the SEO tips out there, get this one right, and you’ll be well on your way.