We often get asked “If I change the content on my web site, won’t my rankings drop?” “I don’t want to update my site and discover Google can’t find it any more…”
Fear can stop us from doing important things. And keeping your site up to date and published fresh content is important, and getting rid of out of date content is important too. You are right though — there can be impacts when you revamp your content, but you shouldn’t let these get in the way of making changes. In fact, with the right changes, you will be able to improve your Google rankings.
If your site sucks, people will leave anyway…
Imagine your site always shows up on the first page of Google. You have hundreds of people visiting your site every day. This is awesome, right?
But it isn’t any good if all that traffic lands on your site and discovers your content isn’t useful to them, or if it looks like your site hasn’t changed since Lynx was a popular web browser! If loads of people arrive on your site, and say: “Whoa, looks like these guys haven’t done anything new in the past 10 years, maybe they aren’t in business,” well, that is not going to help drive conversions on your site!
Upgrading your web site and what really matters
When we are in the process of upgrading a client’s web site, these are some of the things we consider:
- Changing your domain, or having multiple domains: Over the lifetime of your business or non-profit organization, there is a reasonable chance you’ll end up changing your domain — especially if your domain was used as a catchy promotional buzz word that has maybe lost its relevance. Other times, we find clients have gone into an “domain name registration frenzy” and registered 10 variants of their domain name. If you have multiple domains, we recommend you choose only one to use. The others can be kept, but must be set up to use a “301 redirect”. A 301 tells search engines that your domain name is “authorized” to redirect to another domain, and the rankings associated with the redirected domain will be passed on to the target domain.
- Creating a new site and leaving your old site online: Do not do this! And never create two web sites with the same content. Search engines do not like this! Having two sites with the same content can cause Google to derank them both. Instead, set up 301 redirects.
- Choose a good web hosting company: A good web hosting company doesn’t necessarily mean a big one. Google will look at your “hosting neighbourhood” for site credibility. So if you host with a company that allows people to do spam email, or you share an IP address with a disreputable site — that can affect your ranking too. Also, Google looks at site loading times — so hosting with one of the cheapie hosting companies that overloads their servers, well … while it will save you a few dollars, it may loose you hundreds in sales.
- Major changes to your content: If you have good traffic for your existing content, you don’t need to trash it. We suggest that you edit content where required to keep it up to date. If you have content that isn’t relevant, but that is gaining good inbound traffic, use 301 URL redirects if you must scrape the content.
We can help you figure out what the right strategy is for your site. It is far better to keep your content up to date, and relevant, than to have people arrive at your site and say “Geez, have these guys gone on permanent vacation?”