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Launching a New Website and Losing Rankings

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Imagine this nightmare scenario: you are about to launch your newly redesigned website, and you are anticipating new leads and returning customers. Your websit4e design has spent countless hours working out every detail before you unveil your new creation to the world. Then the big day is here, all the I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed, and you give the green light to launch. Suddenly, you come to the realization that the SEO best practices you had incorporated into your old website were not implemented in the new website.

You designed a new website to give your business a new lease on life, but instead, you’ve destroyed your organic search rankings and traffic overnight. Changing your site and not taking into account the SEO implications, you might do more harm than good, like throw away substantive content or change every page’s URL without making sure to redirect the old ones.

This can be easily avoided by planning ahead and learning from the mistakes illustrated in the examples below:

  • Mistake #1: Adding Flash-based or unoptimized images: You added big and eye-catching images to your new landing pages in the hopes of making your site visually appealing or moved to a more visual, but less SEO-friendly Flash design. You cannot forget to optimize the new images or the images may load so slowly that any potential customers may exit before reading any content. Flash elements also can cause huge problems for SEO and will actually prohibit many mobile users from viewing the site. In today’s world of online commerce, patience is not a virtue and customers are not very patient waiting for pages to load. According to Radware, customers will abandon a page within three seconds if it hasn’t loaded.
  • Mistake #2: Neglecting to migrate important content: Most of us understand that a successful website incorporates informative and unique content on every page, which is specifically targeted to your audience. This includes the behind-the-scenes content, too, such as descriptive alt text on images and meta data that adds clear details. While a new site allows for a great opportunity to fix weak content, it is also critical to ensure that you transfer content that has ties to your organic search traffic.
  • Mistake #3: Blocking search engines from crawling your site: The main failure in a bad website launch is typically due to mistakes that were made in the early planning stages. Blocking search engines from crawling your new site is a common error that often happens when sites are moved from the staging area to the live server. Perhaps you used robots.txt to block search engine crawlers while the site was in development, but forgot to update the file when the site went live. Or maybe you accidentally put firewalls in place that are blocking site crawlers.
  • Mistake #4: Not prioritizing mobile-friendliness: Last year, the infamous “Mobilegeddon” update took the SEO world by storm when Google kicked into gear its mobile-friendly algorithm. While the update seemed minimal, a later report by Adobe found that the new algorithm had as big an impact as feared.
    Additionally, according to a study from Moovweb, when a site is not mobile-friendly, there are obvious visibility, ranking, and usability consequences. If you focused primarily on how your new site would look on a laptop, you have inadvertently caused yourself more harm than good. Today’s online shoppers are heavy mobile users who will be ready to bounce if your site can’t be properly read on a mobile device. The big algorithm changes caused multitudes of webmasters to change their sites so that they would still be visible in Google’s organic search results. Up to this point, smaller companies have taken the biggest hit from Mobilegeddon as they struggle to adapt to the mobile changes.

Unfortunately, this is not just a nightmare that can be forgotten once you’ve had your morning coffee, but something that continually happens to countless small businesses. Let Page One Search, Corp. help you avoid these common mistakes and others.

(Note: This article first appeared on Search Engine Land)

Vincent Totino has been in the Internet Marketing field for 17 years and has experience in almost every type of vertical. Vincent is an avid reader and is always ready to help any small to medium sized business owner with some digital marketing assistance.

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