Our new website went live today!
As is often the case we had a deadline, in this case, we were attending an exhibition showing our bespoke software solutions, and were keen to get the new branding in place prior to that. We still have some content to complete, but we are happy that the new site is ready for public consumption.
The purpose of this post is to outline the SEO precautions advisable when making a large change to a website.
Google and other search engines build and constantly update indexes of website pages (think of the old index cards in your local library - each card 'points' to a book).
When your site goes through a significant change, many of the pages change - but Google still has the old index. Without correcting this, the effect is
- Google may send prospective customers to pages that no longer exist
- Google will notice that pages that have existed for some time have disappeared. It may consider that this is an error and mark the site down
- Any external links to the now gone page will again point at nothing, and the value of the link will be lost
The fix is relatively simple
- Use your sitemap (or Google's link: search) to list all of your old pages
- Identify which pages have been replaced with a newer version
- Identify which pages have are no longer needed
- Tell Google (via htaccess, php, asp etc) about the changes
That's it. Remember, keep Google happy!