How to Relaunch a Website Without a Hitch in 6 Easy Steps
The web moves at a lightning fast speed. The beautiful website that you just created a few years ago is now becoming obsolete. It could be slow to load or perhaps not mobile friendly. Maybe it uses outdated protocols or just plain needs some design inspiration. It’s not uncommon to redesign websites every 5 years. Sure, you can stick with your current website but don’t expect your rankings, or your traffic to remain the same. The search engines will favour websites that are fast, mobile friendly and have the most up to date protocols. Your visitors will as well.
If you have decided to take the plunge and design a new website, here are 5 tips to help you launch the new website without a hitch.
1.Benchmark Site Stats
Taking account of some metrics are a good way to ensure your new site was launched smoothly. If you see decreases in traffic or pages indexed there may be some issues you need to resolve. If you have Google Analytics implemented on your website, you will have historical traffic data. Just be sure to take note of the date the relaunch took place. You will also want to record the Domain Authority, pages indexed and crawl errors.
Having this information in a spreadsheet is an easy way to organize it with a column for BEFORE and another column for AFTER the site launch.
2. Upload a ‘Coming Soon’ Page (optional)
I actually recommend just relaunching your website at a low traffic time of day so you will have the least amount of service interruption for your visitors. If you do need to take down your site before your new site is ready for launch, you can upload a “Coming Soon” page. This page should include one or two paragraphs explaining who you are, what you do, an email address for contact, an address if you have a storefront and also include a few keywords you are targeting. You’re basically telling search engines that your new site is a real site and not just a parked site.
3. Redirect Your Urls
Links are hard to build and you will surely want to retain all the ones you have worked so hard for. No doubt, you will have a lot of good, high quality links pointing to your website and you don’t want to lose these. You can review your links in Open Site Explorer and in Google Webmaster Tools. In Google Webmaster Tools they can be found under:
Google Webmaster Tools > Traffic > Links to your site (right)
To make sure you retain the page rank from your old website links you will need to redirect traffic to your new website by creating a 301 redirect from the old url to the new url. You start doing this by mapping current urls to the new urls. One easy to manage process that allows you to track each page is to use a simple spreadsheet that shows all old page URLs in one column and the corresponding new page URLs in a second column. Every page on your old site should have a corresponding new page on your new site. By doing so, you take control over the correlation process, instead of sending traffic to 404 pages. Be sure to check the old urls to ensure the redirect has been completed successfully. Another way to check the 301 redirects is to use the SEO Bulk Checker tool, or the Bulk URL Checker which will allow you to copy and paste URLs and view the status code. You can repeat as many times as needed in order to check all redirected URLs
4. Fix Canonical Issues
Sometimes websites have multiple “home” pages linked to from different pages or areas on the site. For example then following are considered the same page:
If you leave all these pages intact you will have a duplicate content issue. In order to fix this issue, you need to pick the preferred URL and redirect (301) all content and links to the preferred domain. Canonicalization is the process of picking the best URL for content when there are several choices on a webpage.
5.Implement Google Analytics/Google Tag Manager
Be sure to re-add your Google Analytics/Google Tag Manager code to your new site. I can’t tell you how many times this step has been missed and valuable after launch data is lost. If your old site wasn’t using Google Analytics then get yourself an account and start collecting data!!
Once all your 301 redirects have been made and you have implemented and tested your Google Analytics code, it’s time to launch your new website. If you have social media accounts you can build up some buzz up prior to the launch date.
Yes, this is easy but if you would like for us to take this off your plate, we would be happy to. Contact us!