search marketing web design

When You Redesign Your Website, Don’t Forget This & Lose Search Rankings

say-goodbye-search-rankings
Written by Paul Steinbrueck

Continuing our Website Redesign Month theme, in this post I want to talk about another thing many people fail to do when redesigning their website. And it totally kills their search rankings and website traffic.

Let’s say your organization has had a website for at least a couple of years. It’s not mobile-friendly, it’s looking dated, the look of your website doesn’t fit with your logo, you are rebranding, it’s difficult to maintain, or it lacks certain functionality that would benefit your organization. Whatever the reason, you or the leadership of your organization decides you need a new website.

So, you build a brand new website with a do-it-yourself Christian or church website builder or you hire a website design company to create your new website.

Awesome!

The end result is a beautiful, new, mobile-friendly website that has all the functionality you need.

Awesome!

You optimize the new site for search engines or hire a professional Christian SEO to do it (like this organization that got 1,000 New Number 1 Rankings after redesigning and re-optimizing their website)

Awesome!

You transfer your domain name and set it up with your new website.

Awesome!

But what just happened to your search rankings?

The search engines had indexed the pages of your old site. Other sites had linked to pages in your old site. The search listings for the pages of your old site were bringing in new visitors. Now those pages don’t exist. The search engines remove them from their index and search results.

Not good!

If you build a new website but don’t redirect your old URLs to your new pages, say goodbye to your search rankings and website visitors.

quote-ourchurch-if-you-build-a-new

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Sure, you can register your new website with the search engines or wait until they eventually find your website, and then they will index and list the pages of your new website. But, the new web pages have no authority and no links to them. Even if they have the same content and even if you have optimized the new pages for search engines, it’s almost guaranteed the new pages will not rank as well in the search results as the old pages.

Fortunately, there is something you can do to prevent this.

301 Redirects

A “301 redirect” is an instruction placed in the .htaccess file for a website that tells visitors and search engines a page has permanently moved from one address to a new address. When a person goes to a URL that has a 301 redirect setup, their web browser will automatically redirect them to the URL of the new page. When a search engine goes to URL that has a 301 redirect setup, the search engine will update the search listing for the old page with the URL of the new page, giving the new page the same search rankings as the old page.

Pretty cool, eh?

If you do it. Preferably before the new site goes live.  And do it correctly. But most people don’t.

Several years ago we noticed this was frequently being overlooked, so we began offering a Web Traffic Redirect Service. If we can help you with 301 redirects to keep your search rankings from tanking when you redesign your website, we’d be happy to, but the most important thing is one way or another you get 301 redirects set up.

A couple quick notes…

First, if you happen to be one of the many people who used our NE1 website builder and you either migrated to our WP-EZ Website Builder or you’re considering it, when we built the migration tool that copies websites from our old NE1 Website Builder to our new WP-EZ Website Builder, we created it with a special feature that automatically generates 301 redirects from all the old URLs to the new URLS of the new pages. So, we’ve got you covered.

Second, if you redesign your website the easy way – by changing the theme – the URLs of your pages won’t change and so 301 redirects are not necessary. This is true for users of our website builder, custom design clients who we give a free redesign to every 3 years, and for you if your website platform allows you to change themes.

Discuss

  • Have you redesigned your website lately?
  • Do you have any stories to share about the positive impact of doing 301 redirects or the negative impact of not doing them?

About the author

Paul Steinbrueck

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

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