Change for Change Sake is Usually NEVER a Good Idea


Website Redesign

Redesigning your website is a choice filled with pitfalls. Understanding the pitfalls and hazards before you launch on this endeavor is key. It is important to understand that this decision may damage your online business model if you have an existing successful online business.

How Change can Damage Your Online Business

 It could cause the loss of organic keyword rankings, the loss of paid advertising (PPC), and non-functionality of key conversion areas of your site. It could also create poor user experience for both new and existing customers. In addition to this, there is many other ways that change could damage your online business!

If You Must Change

Change can damage your online presence. You should only change your website design/ administration system for only a select number of reasons.

  • If information is outdated/incorrect;
  • Your rankings are extremely low and you have nowhere else to go but up;
  • Your website does not function correctly;
  • Your website does not perform on mobile devices (dudamobile may be a solution for you);
  • Your CMS or plugins are outdated and are continually being hacked (secure solution needed).

 Existing Ranking Results

To protect your existing organic search query term keyword ranking results, you need to know a few things before you make redesigning changes to your website. Keep in mind that you will most likely lose approximately 15% of your current ranking strength. Changing the format of the .html code is a major problem for organic search query keyword ranking results. You have now just changed what is ‘on file’ in the Google or any other search engine’s index. The index is a record of what the search index spider gathered during the many visits to your site. This data gets stored in a queuing server. The bot/spider simply gathers this data.

This data is then evaluated against the search engines algorithm, ranked accordingly for the search query term, and put in an index server (there are thousands of them). Much like you would put a piece of paper in a file folder, then in a file drawer in a file cabinet, this data is what is kept on record. When you change this data on record then your new .html code does not match up with the existing, indexed data on record. This typically means a drop in current ranking result for any given page while the search engines re-crawl; re-run the algorithm, then ‘finally’ indexes the page with a satisfactory search query term ranking result. If you have good search query term ranking results, are you willing to take this chance?

Items to Consider

You will want to preserve your existing page and site strength quality. Existing page and site strength consists of a combination of quality inbound links, quality engaging site content, internal linking structure that makes sense, well placed out bound links, on page search engine optimization, and already indexed content as well a host of other factors.

 If You Have Existing Organic Search Query Ranking Results:

  • Keep existing metadata page title w/possible revisions after launch
  • Keep existing metadata description w/possible revisions after launch
  • Keep existing on page content w/possible revisions after launch
  • Attempt to keep URL naming structure similar/exact to existing, indexed URLs
  • Use 301 Redirects; this ensures quality inbound links find the new page/URL address
  • Direct the search engines (SE) that the page is moved permanently and now found here
  • Maintain image URLs on content pages – these are already in the index

For Paid Advertising Campaigns:

  • Maintain image URLs for shopping feeds
  • Maintain/manage existing URLs to point to newly created paid ad landing pages/root page
  • Ensure proper placement of tracking codes
  • Maintain consistency of existing tracking codes to avoid loss of historical data
  • Maintain image URLs on content pages – these are already in the index
  • Current Poor Organic Search Query Results
  • If you are changing your site’s look, feel and functionality due to low visitor traffic most likely due to poor ranking results for your desired search query terms, then you should apply a full on SEO evaluation and implementation and fully test before launch.
  • Yes! We have seen this all too often.
  • “My site doesn’t rank for my keywords. I had a new site built. I was told that it was being built to SEO specifications but upon launch, my rankings never improved and the visitors that were finally getting to my site would not convert!”

What You Should Do In This Case

  • Perform Extensive, in-depth, up-front keyword competition analysis
  • Revise metadata page title to current specifications and including your desired organic search query term – per page
  • Revise metadata description to current specifications and including your desired organic search query term – per page
  • Revise on page content to meet current specifications and including you desired organic search query term – per page
  • Rename image file names with search query term – per image, per page
  • Rename image alt/title text with search query term – per image, per page
  • Revise/create content with the correct usage of h1, h2 and, if possible, h3 heading tags
  • Include search query term in heading tags
  • Test all links
  • Test all images
  • Test all forms, YES! I said “test all forms” – Believe it or not, this happens on an all to often basis
  • Test in all browser versions
  • Test on multiple mobile devices
  • Test using Google’s mobile usability tool
  • Create an .xml sitemap
  • Create a .html sitemap
  • Create a Google Search Console account
  • Create a Google Analytics account

We Have Seen It All

We have seen all of the above and much more. How about the development site not creating URLs the way that is supposed to? Didn’t get that 301 redirect file into your scope of work? Good luck. You will be doing the work. Didn’t get that copy over existing metadata, content, images into your scope of work. More work for you. And, more money to spend with your SEO company, trying to run down all the issues.

Everything works, but the site is still not converting. Did you check to see that your form works? That it is user friendly? Does it serve up a proper Thank You page with Google Analytics or Google Adwords tracking code? Does the form send you a notice or record that someone filled out your form?

Did you change your landing pages in your PPC account? Our best advice is to make sure that you test, test, test before you go live with a new site and not to rebuild a currently ranking website without understanding all of the pitfalls and hazards involved.

– Mark Gray, Senior SEO Manager