Whether launching a new website or changing an existing one it is important to do a little upfront work. I have had a couple of clients come to me recently either wanting to toss out their old site and start over or who have sadly, already made wholesale changes to page names or content only to find that their website can no longer be found in search results.
Things to consider when launching a new Website or changing an existing one:
- Never rename or delete a page (well almost). If you are contemplating a site change, be mindful of your page names and extensions. If you make changes with abandon, you will loose any ranking associated with those pages and your site. This can be specially tricky if you are moving to a content management system or changing platforms. 301 redirects are critical to this process,
see: Never delete or rename a page.
- Before you make changes, you need to be sure you don’t derail existing traffic. It’s important to know what pages are receiving traffic on your site. You want to know what terms or phrases are attracting attention. You want to know what external sites are linking to and insure there is equivalent content going forward. Review analytics data and web logs before you make changes. If you don’t have tracking in place, don’t wait to add it. I recommend installing Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools at the very least to see where you stand. You can’t tell if you have made improvements or where you may have gone wrong, unless you have some history!
See: Getting Started with Web Analytics Tools
Good Housekeeping tasks I recommend performing on every website:
Modify the .htaccess file to redirect non-www to www versions of your pages. see:
Use local path names such as /filename.php when linking with in your site. Using the fully qualified http://www.yourdomanename.com/filename.php can make it appear to tracking programs that an exit (someone leaving) has occurred, when they are just navigating.
When linking between your own sites always be consistent and use the www. in the link to prevent dual indexing. The .htacess code should resolve this, but why create links that will have to be redirected.
see: To www or not to www, that is in the URL
Track clicks to links for file downloads (pdfs) and/or links to external sites (such as links to carrier or between your companies) using onclick events.
For Google Analytics see: