Having a website redesign? Make sure your old links are redirected.

Apr 5, 2013

Its been a while since I blogged, mainly because I’ve been so busy with SEO training and I’ve not been doing what I preach which is to blog on a regular basis! I’ve been stirred to action by a new client who has had a bit of disaster with their website redesign…….this is what happened.

The client ordered a stomping new website and platform move from a big city based design company. They moved their old CMS to a new WordPress install with the 80 existing pages moved, a $40 theme and the job was priced at £4.5K and took 3 months to complete!

After the new site went live traffic dropped by over 50%. This should not happen.

They came to me to try and get a grip on what had happened as the response from their design firm was that their web content was not up to scratch and they basically needed to write more blog posts!!

After some mooching about I found out that the links they already had in Google had not been redirected to the new pages and they were all heading over to a 404 not found page – this really shouldn’t happen.

It should be a part of the web developers job to set up 301 redirects to tell Google that pages have permanently moved elsewhere.

If redirects are not set up its almost like starting again from scratch – all that search engine work you’ve done will be pretty much gone.

Another problem was that they used a development domain name which was a poker site(!) and didn’t set the robots text file to disallow everything so their website and brand also comes up in Google as a poker site – they are a project management company! In fact they only switched the dev domain off after I found it and told the client to get them to do it like NOW.

In WordPress you can easily make your site private from within the setting, its just a tick box to hide it from the search engines during development. Got to Settings –> Privacy and tick  “Ask search engines not to index this site.”

If you’re having a website redesign or moving CMS platform the ask your developer these questions to avoid the problems above.

  1. Will you set up 301 redirects from the old pages to the new ones?
  2. Do you hide any development domains from the search engines ?
  3. Have you heard of Google Webmaster Tools ? (The guys above hadn’t – just don’t get that one!!)

Hopefully with some time investigating and a bit of effort we can get their traffic back up to normal.

If you’d like an impartial report done on another developers work then please get in touch – I don’t bitch about other designers and I give lots of credit where due but I can also find out if important work has not been done and offer advice on how to improve a website. Questions in the comments if you want.