The biggest mistake made when getting a new website

Posted on August 21, 2018

 

As someone who has been designing and building websites for over 20 years, I have been involved in numerous projects where an existing website had to be redesigned and rebuilt into a new one. What may seem like a simple concept (a company having a new website), there are actually several key pitfalls that need to be avoided as they can completely scupper the business that website generates.

The biggest of these pitfalls is the content. Whenever a new website is designed and built, what do you do with the existing content on the old website? Some people make a conscious decision to get rid of it, as they want new content. Some people don’t consider it, and abandon it altogether. Some people cut it right down in favour of shorter, snappier pages.

But which is correct, and what are the hazards?

Well, as I have seen with many businesses over the years when they have had a new website designed by a designer who doesn’t understand online marketing, they can lose all of their rankings and traffic overnight.

Consider this; if you have two thousand pages on your website, all indexed by Google and containing unique information, those pages will be bringing you traffic. They will be appearing in search results when your potential clients and customers make a search for something those pages relate to. They’re bringing you business. It’s that simple. If you then launch a new website, with all of those two thousand pages deleted, they will disappear from Google. Gone. Vanished.

They will no longer be bringing visitors to your website. They will no longer be bringing business to your company. Your rankings will disappear, your business disappears. All because you had someone design and build a new website and they didn’t understand online marketing. They ignored the existing content because they didn’t realise its importance.

I have seen this happen time and time again, and I will continue to see it happen. Why? Because every day more people pop up professing to be website designers and ‘SEO’ experts, when the truth is they haven’t the faintest idea what they’re doing. They’re playing at it. They’re playing, and they’re gambling with your business.

So what’s the solution?

Whenever you decide to have a new website, you need to consider the migration of the existing website’s pages and content. You need to ensure that every existing page that is indexed by Google (which should be every page on your current website) is either replicated on the new website, or is redirected to a new, suitable replacement page.

Use tools such as Google Analytics and Google Console to create a list of your website’s current pages. You’ll also be able to see the pages that have external links pointed to them from other websites. This will help identify the most important pages you will need to either retain, or redirect.

You could have a specific page of your website, such as a great blog or article, that has hundreds or even thousands of links pointing towards it. Through Google Analytics, you may find it is the landing page of your website for hundreds, or even thousands, of visits each month. If you were launch a new website without that page, or without redirecting it, you would lose all of that traffic.

I have seen this happen too many times, with some fairly large companies too. Don’t let it happen to you. If you are having a new website designed ask your web designer what their plan is for your current website’s pages. It’s too important to leave it to chance.

Darren Jamieson

Technical Director at Engage Web
Darren is Technical Director at Engage Web, as well as being a co-founder of the company. He takes a hands-on approach to SEO and web design, helped by more than 15 years’ experience in these fields.

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