Some Tips to Follow When Updating your Website
Every once in a while, you look at your own personal website and ask yourself, how could I change my website? Update it, tweak it up, trick it out? Sure, you’ve got compliant CSS, a complement of Flash movies, streaming soundtrack, hand-crafted HTML, and lots of Jeff Buckley content (okay, let’s say you run a tribute site). Unfortunately, like cars, websites just get boring to look at after a while, and then it’s time for a makeover.
You may have other reasons to change your website. Big companies with heavily-visited websites regularly change their websites (sometimes once a year) for the purpose of improving its search rankings and SEO. Whatever the reason is, here are some tips that could be useful when giving your little corner of the WWW a facelift.
1. Try to keep the old URLs of all your pages. Don’t forget that search engines aren’t the only visitors of your site. Other people may have bookmarked your site in their browsers. Other websites may have links to your site’s pages (very important for SEO!), or articles in weblogs and other web journals may have your URLs. If you change URLs from right under these other places, chances are people would come up with a 404 error (“Page Not Found”) when typing in your old URLs. A good rule of thumb would be keep the old URLs, even if you totally revamp your pages. Changing the directory structure might also be problematic, so it might be best to stick to your old directory structure. Alternatively, if you’re forced to rename URLs, you can use HTTP 301 redirects that direct traffic from your old URL to your new one.
2. Create a new site map for your site. Your new site may throw off visitors for a while at the start. This is really standard practice, but if you haven’t created a site map already, it would be a good idea to create one along with your new site. The site map would make it easier for visitors and search engines to find pages and information on your site. An XML site map won’t hurt either.
3. Take note of your current site’s rankings. Remember that even the most minor of changes to the page title, or making extensive changes to the body text or content, or, even worse, failing to implement HTTP 301 redirects for renamed pages, will change the rankings of your site’s pages for the worse. If possible, avoid making large-scale modifications and try to keep the page titles as they are.
4. It won’t hurt to have your newly updated website evaluated by SEO people.
When the time comes to give your website a fresh, new look, keeping these tips in mind would help to ensure your site retains its visitors and ranking.