Putting in the Work to Maintain SEO After a Website Change
In today’s episode, Sue and Jesse answer another listener question! Have you gone through, or are planning to go through, a website overhaul? Whether you’re looking for a facelift or to migrate providers, you want to make sure your SEO remains in place and that all of your hard-earned SEO gains and ranking stick. We give you tips for combing over your website to make sure that all of your hard work continues to pay off!
Do you have questions for the team? Visit us at localseotactics.com/questions to submit a question for us to answer on our show. If you submit an audio question we use on the show, we could send you a free Intrycks shirt!
Click that play button today for great tips and check us out at localseotactics.com for resources to help your business get found online.
Don’t miss an episode – listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart, and more!
What you’ll learn
- How to maintain your website’s SEO through a transition.
- What tools are effective in helping you track and maintain your websites structure.
- Why it’s important to validate your links after a transition.
Transcript for Episode 92 –
Caleb Baumgartner: thank you for tuning in to Local SEO Tactics, the show where we bring you tips and tricks to get found online. I am producer Caleb Baumgartner, And on today’s episode, we look to answer another listener question. Are you looking to change your website, but you’re nervous about losing your SEO gains and search ranking? Jesse and Sue will help you with tips to maintain the SEO integrity of your website so you can continue to rank well in searches. If you have questions, submit them at localseotactics.com/questions. As always, thank you for listening.
Jesse Dolan: Welcome back to local SEO tactics, where we bring you tips and tricks to get found online. I’m your host, Jesse Dolan, here with Sue Ginsburg.
Sue Ginsburg: Hello.
Jesse Dolan: And we are minus Bob Brennan for this episode. The last one that we had cut for the previous week, forgot to mention that, but Bob is still around, just kind of a little spring break action right now. So Sue and I are here, going to field this one here for this episode. Just to give everybody the context of this year, again, when Sue is on what we’re trying to do here is answer questions that come in from our clients that we work with, that Sue’s engaging with, that’s a client success specialist. Also questions that come in from all you listeners out there, submitting them to us.
If you haven’t submitted one yet, and if you feel like there’s been something that’s been bugging you, you’ve been hearing these episodes, saying, “I’ve got something I’d really like to ask them and see if they can help out,” you can reach out to us, going out to localseotactics.com, go down to the bottom where it says “submit a question” and you can fill out a contact form to send us your question, or you can call in, leave a voicemail, we’ll air that on the episode, answer your question. And if you do that, we’re going to send you a free Intrycks t-shirt for throwing your voice down on the digital tape. If you’re stuck wondering which of those two to do, we’d love for you to call in and record it. I think that’s always fun, kind of dynamic, to get it on the show. Not only do you get a shout out, you get your voice on there too. And the fame, maybe not so much the fortune, but the fame will definitely follow you shortly thereafter.
But in all seriousness, check it out. Localseotactics.com, drop us a question, drop us a problem, whatever it is, Sue’s going to grab that, we’re going to round table it to come up with an answer for you and, and bring it on the show. So that being said, Sue, I don’t know if you want to chime in, get a… For anybody who’s not on video, just listen on podcast here, Sue’s got this Technicolor background. I think we’ve seen it before, if I’m not mistaken.
Sue Ginsburg: Yes, it’s in honor of the listener’s question, because she asked it from Italy and the background is Cinque Terre, Italy, which as we discussed before, high on my bucket list.
Jesse Dolan: Right. That’s awesome. It looks great.
Sue Ginsburg: It’s great. Okay, so the quote of the day, before we get into the question, is you don’t know what you don’t know. It’s a quote from Donald Rumsfeld, two times secretary of defense and, little bit of trivia, both the youngest and the oldest to serve in that position. Okay, intent of today’s episode is to answer a listener’s question, which is how do I ensure that the traction I’ve made from my current website SEO is transferred to a new website or an updated website? Is there anything I can do prior to it being launched to make sure that my SEO is maintained, sustained, or doesn’t go backwards? That’s a great question. Redoing or launching a new website, part of business today, and really important to know that your SEO doesn’t go backwards in the process.
So what is the obstacle? Why may this be happening? Well, going back to the quote of the day, we don’t know what we don’t know. And we don’t think about this question and we lose SEO. What’s the plan? How do we prevent this from happening? Ask the experts. Ask people who do know how to do it, what to do and go forward when you launch a new site with what they recommend to keep your SEO progress going. And what is the result? Your SEO will be maintained, you won’t go backwards and lose the ground that you spent months, years, decades, whatever, building on so that you’re found online with good SEO.
Today, to demonstrate the topic a little, again, closer to home, talk about a marketing experience that I have had with this, and that is with a current client that we have, we’ve been working with for years, local custom frame shop, who has had great success with her SEO, dominating the category, and recently redid her website for better security, a better look, better functionality, and wanted to make sure that the traction, the good traction that her SEO has gotten her is maintained. She has a big site, hundreds of pages, and she wanted to make sure that she didn’t go backwards. Great example of how in real life, this was an issue, or not an issue. This challenge was part of us redoing the site and launching it and wanted to make sure that the traction that we and she had gained with her site was maintained. So Jesse, question for you, give us your thoughts. What have you seen? What do you recommend? What do you not recommend? Tell us what you know?
Jesse Dolan: I think, like you said, you’re going to update your website eventually. Speaking within WordPress, if you’re already on WordPress, that can mean maybe a new theme. Maybe you’re moving to a new hosting company along with a new theme. The degrees of updating or moving your website can vary from client to client. Maybe you’re on Wix or maybe you’re on Shopify or Square or some other kind of web builder, and maybe you’re going to WordPress or vice versa. There’s plenty of situations where you’re going to be really changing big elements like that of your website. The thing to always keep in mind is your website is an overall global or universal kind of statement.
Your web pages or posts within WordPress, those are the things that are ranking in Google, and that’s really what we’re trying to protect, is, like you mentioned the client, sue, hundreds of pages on her website, and we didn’t want to lose any of the SEO value that had already been built in. Well, the SEO value is in those pages that are ranking. Of those hundreds of pages, are all 100 or 200 ranking? No, but it’s within those massive amount of pages that are all targeting keywords where her SEO success lies. If you really want to screw up a website migration or website upgrade, it’d be breaking all of those links and making those pages that used to rank high, making them gone or deleting them, if you will, replacing them, changing the actual URL, somehow modifying that to where that page doesn’t exist anymore. It’s a broken link.
That’s the number one thing we’re really trying to avoid, and the number one thing that we’re worried about when we’re migrating or upgrading a website, pay attention to how many pages you have on your website, get a list of the exact links of the pages, and just make sure those all work when you’re done. Sometimes when you go through a website upgrade or update, you might have a certain page that is /red-balloons on your website. If you want to get rid of that and change it with something else, make sure that you consciously made the decision to get rid of that page and then make sure that page is going to redirect somewhere else. Make sure that’s not a dead end link, because if you’ve had this website, Google’s going to know about that page, maybe somebody else has saved that page, maybe somebody else has linked to that page from some other resource. And you just want to protect any possible dead ends from that.
And actually this kind of ties into an episode that Bob and I had done on the podcast here, just a few episodes back, about fixing dead links, broken links, finding them. So that would be one of the potential pitfalls, actually of not doing this, is that you’re going to create a lot of broken links on your website. So there’s kind of a two-part answer. Sue, you and I kind of communicated before this episode about what the topic was to prepare the answer and everything else. But I actually do have a little bit of an add on to that as well that’s important, still within the realm here of pages.
So most explicitly the primary thing here is to make sure your URLs, all the links, all the pages still work, that nothing is broken or dead. But the other thing that you want to be careful of is changing too much of the on-page text for any of the pages that are ranking high. Again, if you have a hundred pages on your website, if 30 of them are pulling into your primary traffic and ranking the highest, then I’d be worrying about those 30 and not so much the other ones. And what I’m talking about for worrying is don’t change like your H1 headline, your H2s, the page title, the meta-description, these core SEO things. Page title, meta-description, page content, your headlines. If you have a bullet list of certain text on your site, whatever it is, I wouldn’t radically change that stuff. That’s what your page is about. That’s the content that Google has digested. And that’s the context you’re building on your topics here. That’s what you’re getting ranked for, is the content on your pages.
So not only do you want to make sure that the actual URLs, the actual pages themselves still exist in your new version of your website. You want to make sure you don’t drastically change content on 30, 40, 50 pages at the same time. It doesn’t mean you can’t change that stuff, but I would probably try to meter that out. Upgrade your theme, get your website looking good, how you want it, make sure all the links work, publish it, replace it, and then develop a strategy on if you want to overhaul the content on those pages, change some things around, start going after that page by page and make sure you’re not going to break the SEO, so to speak, on those individual pages. So kind of a step two after you make sure all the page links work. Is that a good answer for you? You think that answers the question?
Sue Ginsburg: It does. You bring up another question, Jesse. You just said before you migrate to the new website, the business owner should make a list of all the pages, the links, the URLs, to make sure that they all make it to the new site. Is that a lot of work to do, or is there some easy way to do that instead of going through each page of the site? It could be hundreds of pages long, and based on that, that sounds daunting.
Jesse Dolan: Yeah. There’s a couple of ways you can do it. So number one, if you’re just updating your theme on a WordPress website, that’s probably something you don’t have to do, because you’re not really moving something, but if you’re switching to a different platform or different hosts or things like that, for sure I’d make a list. You can do a few things. One, if you have a site map on your website already, you can just go visit the site map and just copy and paste off of that into a spreadsheet or into a Word doc or a notepad, whatever you want to do. Take a screenshot. I mean, however you want to archive it and use it. But just leveraging your site map.
Additionally, you could use some kind of a third-party tool. Again, Bob and I talked about some of these in the episode for finding dead links, but it’s the same tools because they crawl your website and give you a list of all your pages. There’s Screaming Frog, Sitebulb, and I’m sure if you do a quick Google search, there’s a bunch of other ones that are going to do the same kind of thing. But something that will basically spider or crawl your website and give you a list of pages. There’s going to be a bunch of tools to do that. Same thing, export them to an Excel sheet or something else to have some kind of a list.
If your site is small, talking a dozen or two pages, I wouldn’t worry about some kind of third-party tool or something. You could literally just go through your website, open all the pages up, copy and paste links, may take you 5, 10, 20 minutes, but it would probably… If your website is that small, it’d probably take you longer to go set up one of these tools, run the tool, get the results And maybe even have to pay for it. So yeah, totally free is going to be leveraging your site map, clicking through your website, copy and paste the actual links themselves. But then if you need to get a little more extensive, getting some kind of a tool that’s going to crawl and spider your site and give you a list of all those pages.
Sue Ginsburg: That’s great, and sounds much less daunting than when you first mentioned it, so good to know. Good to know. That’s great.
Jesse Dolan: All right, well I think that’s probably pretty good. Do you have any closing thoughts, Sue, for this episode?
Sue Ginsburg: Well, before I say the one thing for people to remember, I really want to say how much I love having these client questions come in, because it speaks to the heart of what our clients, whether it’s you or somebody else out there that’s like you, is thinking. So I really want to encourage people to shoot us an email, fill out the form, leave us a voicemail, like Jesse said earlier. We want to help you with your website. We want to answer your questions. And if you have that question, chances are good that a lot of our other listeners have the same question as well.
From this episode, if you remember one thing and one thing only, a website is not one and done. I think we’ve made that point. It is a dynamic, living, breathing, marketing tool and selling tool for you. When you make big changes, when you update it and redo it, remember to keep the SEO traction that you have gained. You made that progress, you want to keep it there, keep it going strong for your business, so that you’re found by all the people who are doing searches for your services and products. That’s what the name of the game is.
Jesse Dolan: Don’t screw it up.
Sue Ginsburg: Okay.
Jesse Dolan: No, I mean, in all seriousness, you spend so much time and energy, like you said, how do you make sure that you just don’t mess that up when you make those big changes to your website? And yeah, that would suck if you just took it down, or again, some of your primary pages, if you just forgot that those were your primary pages and they don’t exist, it takes a lot of energy to recover from something like that. All right. Awesome question. Hopefully that helps a lot of people out there, like Sue said, go to localseotactics.com, go down to the bottom for submit a question. Would love to hear from you and get your topic on here as well. Thanks for tuning in, everybody. Hopefully it helps you out and we’ll check you out in the next episode. Take care.
Sue Ginsburg: See you.
To share your thoughts:
- Send us a comment or question in the section below.
- Share this show on Facebook.
To help out the show:
Your ratings and reviews really help and we read each one.
- Leave an honest review and subscribe on iTunes
- Subscribe on Google Play
- Subscribe on Stitcher