Don’t Get Fired Over a New Website – SEO Web Site Transition – part 1
Okay, after reading over my last post I realized that I was touching on a subject that deserves considerably more time to commit to. This was an extremely condensed collection of strategies and information transitioning from an old website to a new website. Considering how bloody important a new website is to a company I decided to post a few follow up discussions on the requirements for a seamless transition from an old and possibly well performing website, to a new, more user friendly design built for ease of use and conversion. All this while preserving the accumulated reputation which can be affected by pagerank, pigeonrank, backlinks, fingerpointing, searchtraffic, slander and pirates.
You’ve probably heard about it. You may have caught wind of a site launch traffic tragedy from a colleague or business acquaintance. You may have even experienced it first hand! You spend several months and 10’s of thousands of dollars on an amazing new website chock full of ‘WEB 2.0’ do dads and widgets. Tracking and ROI calculation up the ‘Hoo Hoo’. Huge release party, champaign, noisemakers, the beautiful account rep smiles at you for the first time. With a feeling of victory in your gut you ‘Flip the Switch’ only to see the website traffic fall of the face of the earth. Leads die away, phones stop ringing, stink eye replaces the smiles and soon the boss is breathing down your neck because the development house guaranteed there would be no traffic loss. D’oh!! Now in all honesty, the TLD (top level domain-www.domain.com) will likely retain it’s traffic unless the content and code layout has changed substantially. So websites which have no value past their homepage will have no worries for the short term.
Build an Inventory of Value Pages
Jump in your time machine and roll back about 30 days.
For this first step I will attempt to describe how to use various analytics programs and free tools to build an inventory of the website. This is to develop a list of pages which The Google has deemed to be of good value and which also have attracted back links from various other websites from around the internets.
Which Pages are Receiving General Internet Traffic
First develop a complete list of all pages which are currently receiving web traffic (both search engine and direct). For this the bare minimum is going to be Google Analytics. Your standard log based web stats will also work here but as we move into more detailed search engine traffic based priority lists, they become fairly useless. And make sure that you have at least 2 complete calendar weeks of data in order to gauge a more accurate mean average. Go back as far as you can to be honest (no more than 12 months), this is to factor in seasonal shifts in site traffic depending on the market. Export your list in to an excel sheet and get ready for the next list.
Which Pages are Receiving Search Engine Traffic
If your internal linking is clean and crawlabe (none of that Flash Nav bullshit), this list will be as close as you’ll get to the most valuable pages in your website, unless you don’t drive leads or interest from the Search Engines (give your head a shake if this is you 🙂 ). During my career the one tool which has given me the most concise list of Search Engine traffic data is Eightfold Logic, formerly known as Enquisite (way better name). Enquisite will export a complete list of entirely search based trafficked pages. Google analytics will also give you this simple data so export ‘Search Engine Referrals (landing pages) Only” and move on. Add this to the excel page and prep for the next layer.
Which Pages are Being Linked to Externally (Back Links)
Perhaps the most important metric at the moment is Back Links, providing that you actually have content which people wish to share with their own readership. These are reputable websites, preferably within your industry which have linked to you from their website or blog. These are infinitely valuable for SEO and authority development so DO NOT LET YOUR MARKETING TEAM IGNORE THEM !! Okay, how do you gather a list of backlinks? Easy. Set up a Google Webmaster Tools account and authenticate your site. Once you’re in Google will spread its diagnostic gates open for you to export. Navigate to Your Site on the Web => Links to your Site and extract the entire list of pages that it shows you here. Don’t worry about the numbers of links, you will want to preserve this entire list.
For another tool for collecting backlinks check out Link Diagnosis. This is a great site and I use it often in conjunction with Eightfold Logic and Google Webmaster Tools for compiling my list. Google Analytics is a fallback that I will use when I can’t update the site with a couple weeks of Enquisite data.
Next piece I’ll go into detail on what to do with all this data. This is the real key to understanding what your website is providing to you. Getting suffocated with statistical information is all good if you know how to read the data and how to use the data to develop a plan from which to apply to the website for increased traffic, leads and conversions.
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