Launching a new website is exciting… and there are many critical steps to be taken pre-launch to carry over organic rankings from a current website. Because lost organic search rankings and decreased traffic is NOT exciting. This post is the third in a series about preserving SEO value when launching a new website. A website should not only keep its rankings in Google, Bing and other search engines with a new website launch, but it should also incorporate new SEO opportunities – which were either not utilized in a previous website build, or not yet known.
Website content is so much more than just content on a page. Website content, in this context, includes text, images, new pages, H1 tags and webpage titles. All these items working together (along with countless other criteria) help Google rank a website.
A website that’s been around for years has been ranked according to it’s content. And depending on the website, this could either be a great opportunity to implement quality content on each page, tag each image appropriately and properly title the webpages… or a devastating botched SEO effort with lost rankings.
The Data Doesn’t Lie
Good decisions can only be made by looking at data. If a website has little-to-no content, H1’s have never been optimized and images are not tagged… it’s fairly safe to say there’s a lot of room for improvement in a new website launch. However, if you’ve worked hard over the years to create good quality content packed with keywords, optimized each page with relevant H1 tags and properly tagged each image in an extensive gallery the data can tell us how to move forward with preserving work that’s already been done.
By sifting through analytics for bounce rates, total traffic, organic rankings, keywords and several other items, we can determine if your current strategy is successful or where it can be improved.
Room for Improvement
If there is room for improvement with the designing and launching of a new website, there are a few thing our Omaha web design and web marketing team would recommend implementing prior to launch.
- Clear, concise, keyword-rich text on all pages
- Strategically selected keywords and keyword phrases
- Optimized web page titles and H1 tags
- Clear calls to action
- Strategic landing pages for AdWords/social campaigns
To be clear, building a strong presence in the search engines does not happen overnight. Implementing even just a couple of the items above is a step in the right direction and can contribute to a long-term strategy.
Carrying Over Success
If, upon evaluating the data, it seem that your current website is performing well in the search engines then it’s best to keep things as similar as possible on the new website – URLs in particular. If you can keep the URL structure and page names the same, it’s ideal. Any changes should be done strategically and for the greater good of website performance, and not just done for the heck of it. Also, where you have page content that currently performs well you’ll want little, or no, changes. There will be plenty of opportunities to tweak the content post-launch, after it is indexed and ranked. This includes well tagged images.
And as for carrying over webpage titles, H1 tags and META descriptions, your old site may allow you to easily export all the key on-page elements to import into the new website. By keeping these items the same, it offers the same benefit as keeping the web content on the page similar. You can always go back post-launch and make updates as-needed, but avoiding a severe loss in SEO ranking is more important than making any major shifts in webpage titles or H1’s before launching a new website.
So the bottom line: when it comes to webpage content, H1 tags, page titles, page names, etc., if your current website is performing well make little-to-no updates until after launch. This is less work on your plate up-front, and will give you a chance to evaluate the performance of your new website’s design and layout before considering how to update the text on each page.