Redesigning your site may become necessary when there has been a big change in your firm, or when the site you have has simply become obsolete. The process usually yields new graphics and contents, and if it’s done well you will be delighted to use it and have it represent your firm. But with a new set of pages, there may be an effect on your Google listing.
Clients often ask, how do I keep my Google rankings after I updated my website?
In addition to new graphics and content, chances are your new site includes big changes on the “back end”, especially if you move to a different platform such as WordPress. Each platform structures information differently and you may not be able to retain the same web address for your pages (url).
We see this often with law firms, when we change to WordPress from an older system such as ColdFusion. You old pages’ urls probably incorporate the platform’s extension, .cfm. So a lawyer’s biography, yourfirm.com/john-adams.cfm (ColdFusion) may become yourfirm.com/attorneys/john-adams (WordPress).
To Google, these are two entirely different things! Any listings they had of your old pages will not automatically change to the new pages, and your visibility may suffer. So there are a number of techniques we recommend and practice that, once done, will restore your Google rankings, and possibly even improve them.
This involves re-submitting the pages to Google, when we generate a new “xml sitemap”. This files lists your pages in a programming language that will enable Google’s records to update. At the same time, we may create a set of “redirects”, essentially some lines of code to tell search engines the name of each old page and its replacement.
Followup and verification
After your site transfers over, we have several ways to monitor your traffic, to see if it has retained its standing on Google. Using Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools, free tools from Google, we can view the number of visits to your pages (and a lot of other useful information we will cover elsewhere). If your previous site had Analytics installed, we can view past results, going back a full year, in most cases. This gives us a timeline showing your traffic before and after the change, to see whether there is a drop off in traffic. If so, we can view Analytics again to track our efforts to improve it, showing us where to make alterations, if any are needed.
Lots of other things can affect your Google visibility too, such as changing your pages to secure format (https). Read more about https here.
If you are planning to update your firm’s website, don’t ignore this important factor — search engine listings. And by all means contact DLS Design if you need help.