In our business, we get to work with scores of different web designers and developers and have been involved in hundreds of projects where sites have been updated or replaced. All too often, there are painful, missed opportunities which cause frustration for everyone involved and most importantly, lost sales or leads.
Most frustrating of all; these can easily be avoided with a simple checklist:
1. 301 Re-Directs
If you’re deleting pages or replacing an entire site or URL structure, please make sure you create a list of the existing URLs and create 301 redirect instructions to the new equivalent pages. Any visits to the old pages from bookmarks or browser history will land on your pretty new one. More importantly, any authority or ranking of those old pages will be attributed to the new pages too, avoiding a loss of ranking, traffic and leads or sales.
2. Conversion tracking codes
If the old site is running AdWords, please ensure you reimplement the Conversion Tracking code on the new site. We’d recommend noting precisely when this is done so that any variance in conversion rate can be attributed and analysed correctly.
3. Analytics code
Make sure you implement any existing Google Analytics code on your new site, again making a note of when this happened so that data can be analysed more accurately. Whilst we’re talking about Analytics, developers – please, please, please stop creating Analytics profiles in one account for each website you build. This creates significant issues for your client; they can’t give access to marketing teams like ours, or create Analytics goals or funnels and measure the performance data accurately on their website. Please just create a new Analytics account for them and make them an admin. The world will be a happier place.
4. Transfer any existing metadata and titles to the new page.
Note any existing metadata used on existing pages; title tags, descriptions, images, alt, text etc. all play a part in the ranking of those pages. Please don’t forget them!
5. Don’t Duplicate Content
If you’re creating a site on a new domain, don’t use content from the old site unless you delete the old stuff, and even then, refer to Point 1 above. Google loves great content but hates duplicate content. Redirect the old URLs or create new content, but DO NOT just import or copy and paste.
If in doubt, at least, please ask these questions of your client. It will save everyone a heap of potential pain.
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