If you have a website, you are almost certainly its number one visitor. So you’ll be keen to ensure it does its job in raising your profile, increasing traffic and building your customer base.
You’ll examine it with a forensic attention to detail, checking for content, topicality and relevance; updating and nurturing it, exploring design issues and levels of engagement, proudly showing it off to anyone who’ll take a look.
Sadly, like many relationships, there’ll come a day when you simply fall out of love with your website. You’ll want to trade it in for a newer model and give it a digital spring-clean. It’s human nature and, frankly, it’s important that you do. We all need to stay ahead of the game.
So when the time comes for you to upgrade, you might like to think of your website as a kind of digital Doctor Who; a powerhouse of information which should never lose the loyalty of its fan base, but just needs to regenerate occasionally.
In other words, don’t get carried away with design alone. Aesthetics may be important, but three other words count for so much more – Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
There’s no point in your site being visually pleasing if no-one can find it. The fact is that without building in a proper SEO and content management strategy visitors will be directed to the wrong page, your new site will languish in the ether and all the trust and goodwill built around your old domain will simply disappear.
So, what to do?
For a start you’ll need to ask your web guy about ‘301 Re-Directs.’ If you are changing your URL, this is the best way to ensure that users and search engines are connected to the right page. It’s a technical way to describe a permanent switch from one URL to the other, thereby preserving all that lovely loyalty you’ve built up.
Then you need to do some research into your target audience, how it can be reached and which part of the web you can best promote your services to.
You’ll certainly need to decide which keywords and phrases will lead to this audience to help build conversions and rankings although, in truth, there has been a recent shift away from keywords in favour of quality content which can be promoted to audiences you know have an interest in sharing it.
It’s also important to know which pages of the old domain have the highest traffic. This ensures that what tekkies describe as the ‘link juice’ (or page ranking to you and me) follows seamlessly from the old domain to the new.
Make sure that your new website is easy to navigate and contains clear calls to action to improve and simplify the conversion process and build those all-important links to your website.
Finally, as we have blogged about before, you need to combine your SEO with social media to amplify your on-line presence. You can do this with features like Google+ which, it might surprise you to learn, has built up more active users over two years than Twitter.
So if you’re planning a website upgrade, remember the power of SEO. To ignore this important tool is the equivalent of changing your name by deed poll and not bothering to inform any of your friends and then emigrating without leaving a forwarding address.