One of the most daunting and frightening tasks a business owner can deal with is the design (or redesign) of their website. For a site that has been ranking really well organically and bringing in a ton of traffic every month, it can be hard to let go of that old site and accept a new one. Once you get past the “OMG” moment and decide you are going to get your new site created and up to date with the latest styles and functionality, you have to start thinking of how it will affect your business.
Redesigning a site usually means creating a whole new website from the ground up, but it can also just be an updated custom theme (if using WordPress for example) that will be applied. In either case there will probably be issues that will affect your site’s usability, findability, and organic rankings. Here are three ways to ensure that your site has the smallest amount of growing pains when switching over.
- Create and test your site on a test location. You want your site to be created and programmed on a test location so that everything can be tested live before it is publicly viewable. This allows you to take a full run through of the site to make sure it is 100% how it should be. There may be a few links that need to be updated when the site is moved over, but nothing major.
- Let Google help you gauge Google. Using operators in Google such as “cache:sitename.com” or “site:sitename.com” can help you figure out how Google sees your site. “cache:” will take you to a cached version of your site. It will show a snapshot of how your page appeared the last time Googlebot crawled it so you can see when your changes are noticed by Google.
“site:” will show you how many pages from your site are indexed in Google at that point in time. This helps to let you know if there are pages that haven’t been crawled and indexed on the new site.
- Use external programs and toolbars to gauge your domain authority and page authority. The SEOquake toolbar is awesome for getting a quick glance at your Google PageRank score, and offers a ton of other features as well. PageRank helps to get a general idea of the strength of pages on your site. The MOZbar from Moz.com helps to get a quick glance at page authority as well as the authority (SEO strength) of your entire domain.
- Watch Google Webmaster Tools for Errors. Google Webmaster tools is a great tool to keep tabs on almost everything going on between your site and Google. It gives you site messages and error warnings if anything goes wrong, from malware to crawl errors.
By using these four tips, you can keep an eye on your sites overall performance and keep its relationship with Google copacetic. They will help you reduce errors, enhance the user experience, and, in turn, increase your rankings!