November 14, 2008
When moving from an old to a new website it is extremely important to consider the old sites existing organic search engine position. If the correct strategy is not undertaken then the old sites position in the search marketplace could be dramatically compromised. It’s important to gain an understanding of two specific areas of the old site before undertaking a strategy:
The existing listing saturation:
This is the number of pages which have been listed, cached and indexed within each of the major search engines. Each page listing will be producing a level of visitor traffic, each associated to different groups of keywords and search terms. It’s essential to make sure existing page URL’s remain the same or old URL’s are directly mapped to the new site. Making sure that every page directly maps to its new version.
The existing link popularity:
This is the number of pages which form one way links back to the old site or where the old site has been directly referenced by another website using a hyperlink. These include 3rd party websites, directories, social media sites, articles, news and review websites etc. The Links form the basis of the sites popularity, and page rank. It’s essential to make sure that all links remain live and point to the same active page weather new or old.
Both of these areas are directly related to the old sites existing search engine presence and performance. If a strategy for moving and maintaining these links is not put in place before the DNS is transferred to the new site, it is possible that the new site will receive a massive drop in Page Rank, Trust Rank and listing saturation. It can take up to 6 months to recover from this type of situation and unfortunately there would be a percentage of links to the site which will be lost forever.
There are two main strategies which can be used to prevent this from happening and to maintain the sites online presence:
To use all existing URL strings, page titles and meta data in the formation of the new site and its pages.
The content, page titles and meta data can be improved or adjusted but the relevance of each page will need to be maintained. With the creation of most new site upgrades, this is the most practical way forward and is more time efficient. As the site and its pages will appear the same to the search engines but just upgraded (i.e. the page URL is identical, but the page content and files sizes will be different.), page rank, link popularity and link saturation will be maintained and transferred to the new site. The search engines will notice a difference in page size, files sizes and file names etc. This should improve search engine interest, as they will believe that the content has been updated, as this is across the entire site it will increase robot visits and should lead to the site listings being updated. This should mean that any new pages will be picked up and indexed fairly rapidly.
All of the old websites pages are indexed and mapped to their counterpart pages on the new website using a 301 redirect (permanent redirect) and Mod-Rewrite.
In most cases each page will have its associate page rank transferred to the new mapped page, but this is not always the case and it will take some time. Quite often search engine listings will initially drop in rank, as all of the site will appear new and then start to increase once the page rank is transferred. Some pages lose their page rank and popularity and it’s difficult to predict the reason behind this. Inbound links from 3rd party websites will be mapped to the new pages of the website using this strategy. Associated page rank will be transferred to the page but this will not be immediate and may take some time, anything from 1-3 months, depending on the linking sites importance. If possible it would be worth contacting link partners and directory sites in order to change the associated URLS. This can be a difficult and time consuming process and as a result it is sometimes more time and cost efficient to continue the sites ongoing search marketing strategy using the new URLS.
In order to help promote the indexing of new pages it will be essential to create regular XML sitemaps (Monthly or when the site has new content added.) and to submit them directly to the search engines, giving them a complete guide of the entire sites page structure.
Matt Blay – Creative SEO provides the following services: Search Engine Optimisation, Search Engine Marketing, Social Media Marketing, SEO UK, SEM UK, PPC Managment, Search Engine Marketing Consultancy and much more.