Questions and concerns abound when the mammoth project of rebuilding your corporate website hit your inbox. You wonder if your SEO will take a nosedive; if the finely fleshed out user experience you spent a year perfecting will not transfer to the new designs; and you fear the new software you’ll be using will be cumbersome making all the education you took on for the current site useless.
We wish we could sit here and allay these fears and worries but unfortunately, there’s not much you can do. Yes, your SEO may take a minor hit, and yes, you’ll most likely be starting from scratch in optimizing your UX. However, with most websites that are over a couple of years old, it is necessary to rebuild to offer a more up to date service. It also doesn’t hurt to appear as an innovator and thought-leader within your respective industry.
Though there are some unavoidable pitfalls, below is a list of things that you should strive to avoid or at least mediate when rebuilding your site!
Altering Your Link Structure
This is a big one and an issue we see so many businesses fall apart on. Your link structure is essential to your SEO strategy and here’s why. When a Search Engine bot is crawling the content on your site, it must use the link structure to decide how to move forward or backwards. Not unlike how we use breadcrumbs for our users to easily navigate. If you have a series of products on your site a bad link structure may look like this: awesomecompany.com/product-a/. This is bad because once the bot indexes or updates based on your content it now has to figure out what it is looking at and how to proceed. By making this URL awesomecompany.com/products/product-a, the bot has a sensible idea that there is more content lingering in that products section. It can easily go back to the products page and continue to index or update your products.
Further to this point, if you have some links that don’t follow an easy-to-understand link structure, your content may get lost and be deemed as less important than other content pieces. Let’s use our existing example to take a closer look. Let’s say you have three products: Product A, Product B, and Product C. The three links should be something like this:
I can not begin to even tell you how often we’ll see this instead:
See what happened there? Somewhere along the way, someone at AwesomeCompany forgot to make Product C belong to the Product parent and now it is just floating in the abyss on it’s own. In SEO we have a term called Link Equity where the value of all internal links is spread somewhat equally across the site. This is due to a solid link structure. But when we have a page like Product C out there on it’s own, Search bots will not treat that as a similar piece of content that’s part of an important path. Rather, it will treat it as a piece of one off content.
Link structures also help users navigate your site easily. It will be easier for them to peruse your products and decide which is best for them if all of the products follow the same link structure and URL conventions (hyphenate, people!).
Now if your current link structure is a mess and there are pieces of content all over the place, then I can’t sit here and tell you to avoid it. Rather, I’d advise you work with an SEO agency or your in-house team to get these links 301 redirected in the right way so your SEO doesn’t get too clobbered.
If your link structure is ironed out and working well, don’t change it! You don’t need to rename your /blog/ to /content/ or /journal/ just don’t do it. Your /products/ doesn’t need to be called /packages/ just keep the course mate, you’re doing fine!
Lack of Aftercare
Once you have rebuilt your site, it is not time to sit back, relax, and pat yourself on the back. Now, the aftercare begins. I’ll be direct with you. There will be bugs. There has never been a situation in which a new site has been built and there have not been bugs, errors, or oversights.
This is where the planning of your rebuild comes in handy. Part of your rebuild plans needs to include the setting up of your Google Analytics, heat mapping software, and all other tracking that you plan to do. Don’t wait until you launch to integrate these services, they need to be there at day one, hour one.
If you see a sudden dive in traffic after pushing your new website, it could turn out to be a minor correction. However, it could also mean that your link structure is broken, you accidentally set noindex or nofollow on a lot of or all of your content, you could have even forgotten to include basic things like your site title (we see this lots).
So make sure you run through every page and keep an active eye on your analytics for at least 30 days following the deployment of your rebuilt site.
Security should go without saying but there are some things that some technical teams will leave to the last second.
User roles and permissions typically get left to the last second. In which case, it is often the case where all of the user roles and permissions from the previous site are scrapped and instead they are migrated as admins to the new site. You need to make sure you keep these permissions in place and use the rebuild as an opportunity to scrub through your list of users, eliminating people who are no longer contributors, and restricting access based on your new site.
If you did not employ security software before your rebuild, it would be ideal to include it now. For our WordPress clientele we recommend Sucuri but depending on your industry, there are great security services like Okta and Tanium that you can add to your arsenal now.
FlowPress also recommends using a CDN for any new site to avoid crippling attacks while also getting content to your users faster.
Not building in proper security protocol is one of the most common pitfalls we see, especially in the enterprise, when rebuilding a site.
These are just three of the most common pitfalls we see when a rebuild has occurred and FlowPress is contacted to help with corrections. This is not a complete list as every rebuild is different but these three issues are so commonly left to the end (or ignored completely) that we couldn’t help but throw them out there to caution you as you begin your rebuild planning.