Three Considerations Before Changing Your Website

SEO experts and internet marketing professionals understand that changing and/or moving your website can result in positive outcomes regarding your search engine ranking. The most common changes that business owners make are changes to domain names, changes in web design, changes in content management systems, and changes in web hosts.

All such changes can be beneficial, but they do not come without risks. So before you make a move, consider how such a move might affect your business in particular.

  1. 1.       A Change in Domain Name. Many business owners feel that a change of domain name is appropriate since a domain name relevant to website content can have a positive effect on search engine rankings. Some businesses change domain names because they have been acquired by other companies, and some businesses change domain name because the name of the company itself changed. So what should you do if you plan to change your domain name, for whatever reason? If you are only changing your domain name, 301 redirects are a good start. Once those are place, contact the owners of all your top referring websites and ask them to update their links to reflect the change in your domain name. Your primary concern in changing your domain name should be to communicate to other search engines that your change is permanent in order to retain as much link equity as you can.
  2. 2.       A Change in Web Design and Content Management Systems. These are the two factors that can most dramatically affect your visibility. Before you undertake such a change, be sure you understand exactly how search engines will treat your website in the aftermath. When companies make a change to a website, their primary concern is making the transition smooth for potential customers who visit the site. What they often neglect to take into consideration is the effect that a change in URL syntax will have on search engines. Create a map of old URLs to new URLs, and use 301 redirects as mentioned above. And just as you did when changing domain names, contact the owners of your top referring sites and request that they change the URLs to which they are linking. If you have pages that cannot be mapped, use user-friendly and search engine-friendly 404 error pages. Once you have finished the CMS and design changeover, beware of the need to constantly monitor broken links.
  3. 3.       A Change in Web Host. The only real issue with changing web hosts is timing. If this is your plan, you should start by putting your site at its new location. Then make your DNS changes so that your domain names points to the new location. Make sure your new location has been crawled by the search engines before closing down your previous location. If you are considering a website change, your primary concern should be making a smooth transition both for your customers and visitors, and for search engines. Many companies are so concerned about making a seamless transition for users that they forget the impact a change can have on search engine rankings. Make it easy for search engines to understand what is going on. If you are uncomfortable with making a website change, or if you are not sure how to make it easy for search engines to translate your move, consider hiring an SEO expert or internet marketing professional to help. These individuals have years of experience in helping companies transition from one web location to another. They can help you communicate a domain name change to search engines. They can help you create maps and implement 301 redirects if you change your design and/or your content management system. And they can help you correctly time your transition if you change your web host.
Written By: Jason Maletsky - Web/Application Developer
Jason Maletsky is skilled at all aspects of web development and design, from strategy and planning, through design and implementation. With more than eight years of web development, web design and programming experience, Jason’s goal is to build web applications that create the desired results clients want – including increased sales, attraction of more website visitors, and conversion of site visitors into customers.

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