Maine Internet Marketing Services FAQ: Avoid Decrease in Google Organic Rankings: Green Sky Development


TOLL-FREE: 855.464.4734

How do I avoid or minimize organic search engine traffic loss & drops in rankings after a website redesign?

You need to use a 301 Redirect to tell search engines what the old page name was and what the new page name is. In doing this, you are redirecting the search engines from the old content to the new.

This is very, very important. I have had many clients call me in a panic after launching a newly designed website when they realized that the number of visits coming from organic search engines was declining rapidly.

In the absence of a 301 redirect if a user clicks on an organic listing for your site and that page no longer exists, it produces a 404 “Page not Found” error. This immediately sends a signal to the engine that the page of content is no longer valid and they will remove it from the search engine index. For less popular, relatively unknown sites, this is often not too big an issue because there aren’t a lot of people clicking on the old links to begin with. But you can imagine how damaging this would be for a very well established website with lots of indexed links whose content is very frequently searched for. Organic referrals can drop like a 50 pound stone.

Ideally, as you are building your new website, your designer would create a list, perhaps in excel, with the old URL and the new URL for each page of content. You’d give this list to your webmaster or SEO person and they can set up the redirects for you and put them in place the very second your new site goes live so that you lose no traffic.

If you didn’t do this, then you can remediate quickly by setting up a Google Webmasters account for your site and looking at the “Crawl Errors” in the “Health” section of its reporting. It will tell you what URL’s are producing 404s and then you can set those up as 301 redirects.

301 redirects are specified in a hidden file called .htaccess on web servers that use Apache (Linux, Unix, RedHat, Debian, etc.) or they are defined in a file called web.config for a Microsoft Windows IIS environment. These two files reside at the “root” or very top level of your web site directory and they will be crawled by search engine spiders if present.

The cure for this ailment is to get a complete 301 redirect file in place and to create a new XML sitemap for all of the new pages of the site. Submit the new XML sitemap to Google via Webmaster Tools and this generally issues a call for Google to come to your site and recrawl the content. At the same time, they will crawl the 301 redirects and your remaining previously indexed links will be "saved".

Who Are We

We are internet marketing consultants with 20+ years experience in best practices, metric-based, results-driven search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) methods. We value the trusted relationships we have with our customers. We are partners in your success.

Our Philosophy

We care about the trusted "spit and grip" handshake. We are driven by ethics, honesty, and trust. There are no gimmicks, sales pitches, or shady deals. We don't make promises we cannot keep. We set realistic goals and expectations. We work with you to achieve the best results for your business.

Our Services

We offer a full suite of marketing services. We can help you achieve your goals. We have solid experience in direct retail and internet marketing. Please review our services. Don't see what you need? Contact us. If we don't offer a specific service chances are "wicked good" that we know someone who does.