• http://www.mikefeiman.com/ Michael Feiman

    Good basics Janet. It’s shocking how often the robots.txt file gets copied over from the dev site.

  • Cheta Manuel

    I’d like to see sometimes a study done on loss of ranking purely because of drastic design changes. That would be neat.

  • Nathan Burch

    And then comes the fiasco from moving from IIS to Apache or vice-versa.

  • http://sporkmarketing.com/ Jason Lancaster

    5. Check to make sure analytics tracking code is placed!

    Saw this one recently on a client’s site…they did a redesign, but the GA tracking code was mangled somehow.

  • Scott Davis

    If you’re volunteering to be the Guinea pig domain wise… I’ll track it for you.

    But seriously though, when a major redesign goes in, major content overhaul, complete site relaunch on the same domain, etc. Google recrawls your site like it’s never seen it before because the spiderweb of connections no longer resides where it used to. This can trigger a Penguin penalty if your backlink profile is questionable or even just connected to the wrong people via links (bad neighborhoods). I can’t say that you wouldn’t have experienced that Penguin penalty anyways… it might have caught up to you 3 or 4 or even 14 months down the road. No point in arguing hypotheticals.
    However in this one specific style of example, the complete recrawl would be responsible for setting off the Penguin penalty.

  • http://sozodesign.co.uk/ Christian Goodrich

    Great post, thank you Janet. Just a few questions I’d be very interested to hear your take on please:

    1. Do you think images and PDFs should be 301’ed as well? Image filenames in particular tend to change with a site redesign.

    2. What about 301’s for other file types like .css, .js, etc. (which are less likely to change, but sometimes do depending on how old the previous version of the site is!)

    3. If with a redesign there is no longer a relevant page for an old URL to 301 to, would you instead just 301 the old URL to the homepage? Or would you leave it to 404?

    Also to your advice I’d add about utilising Google Webmaster Tools (and Bing Webmaster Tools) to diagnose any crawl issues. GWT in particular is incredibly useful for picking on any issues that may have been overlooked.

  • RightTech

    Excellent point. I’ve seen many sites where developer left out GA during dev, then forgot to put it in when doing the final push to a live production site.

  • RightTech

    No reason to 301 non-user content items like css or js.

    Only 301 images if you think the image is likely to generate Image search results in Google – so not small graphics / widget type stuff, and probably not generic stock photos. And for most sites, I’d guess there are few incoming links to an image – rather to the web page with that image, and so 301 seems marginal

    Definitely DO 301 PDFs, and especially ones that get a lot of direct traffic (Google Webmaster Tools can help identify those).

  • ashadweb

    Nothing new same old story :)

  • http://www.mytoiletspares.co.uk Richard King-Davis

    How can i get google to Rank my site after redesign

  • http://sozodesign.co.uk/ Christian Goodrich

    Thanks for the advice! What do you think about applying a 301 to a page which no longer has a relevant page on a redesign? Would it leave it as a 404, or 301 it to the homepage (for example)?

  • Erik Dafforn

    Christian, that’s a discussion as old as SEO itself. Lots of folks try to milk every gram of authority out of an old page by redirecting it somewhere, even if the new target isn’t related to the old page’s topic. I think if the old page had any search traffic, then the redesign *should* have a logical redirect target. Otherwise, why kill the page? But if the page is just taking up space and not performing and has no new relevant counterpart on the new site, there’s little to be gained by redirecting it anywhere, and a 404 is a just retirement.

  • http://sozodesign.co.uk/ Christian Goodrich

    Ha I know it’s a dated question! But it’s one that nonetheless I was keen for an additional, and an up-to-date opinion on. Thanks Erik.

  • RightTech

    If you leave it as 404, be sure you have a custom 404 page that at least provides users with easy access to your main navigation.

  • http://www.loriswebs.com/ Lori Eldridge

    I have another suggestion. I had a client hoodwinked into allowing someone else to redesign their website and found the new “designer” had left “index nofollow” on every page, so google deindexed the site.

  • Wes J

    Jason, I agree that it’s important to confirm this for every redesign, but it’s definitely not going to affect your Google search rankings.

  • http://www.davidgengler.com David Gengler

    Submit a new XML sitemap in the case of new URLs…

  • http://sporkmarketing.com/ Jason Lancaster

    Obviously. The title of the article is “losing organic TRAFFIC” – not rankings.

  • Wes J

    True enough. But still, the tracking code will not actually influence your traffic either way – just your perception of it. Having a noindex meta tag actually will.