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Search Engine Friendly Design - Re-designing Sites

In This Section
  Changing file names
  Deleting pages
  Changing the site structure
  Framing / de-framing
  From static to dynamic
  Keeping the optimsiation in tact

Sites change and it is important that they be redesigned from time to time to keep the content fresh and the design up to date. But if a site that is well listed on the engines and/or directories is going to be redesigned, or even just a single page deleted or file names changed, it is important to realise that it WILL impact on the site's rankings and traffic.

This does not mean that changes should not be made. It does however mean that special consideration has to be given to sites that are showing well before any changes are made. If you consult with the SEO expert up front you will be able to limit or avoid any negative impact the change may have had.

Not everything has to be complicated and there are most likely very simple ways of ensuring that any proposed changes do not harm the site's rankings. But the important point is to consult with the SEO expert BEFORE the changes are made to ensure any necessary workarounds are put in place and no rankings or traffic is lost.

Changing File Names - Search engines have the ability to index every page of a site they can find. They do not only index a homepage which means that a single site may have every one of its pages indexed, with some or all showing very well in search returns.

Links given by directory and site owners do not always resolve to the root domain. If the site has a page on a specific topic that is relevant to a site the site owner will often link to the individual page. Because of both of these reasons it is imperative if you have to change a file name you make sure that it doesn't create a loss of traffic.

There are several ways of doing this from the very simple: use the existing file name for the new page (which is fine if you're just changing content), to the very complicated workarounds for sites that are being completely redesigned on a new platform (ie: html to asp). The best workaround will depend on the type and extent of the change which means there needs to be communication between the designer and the SEO expert.

Deleting Pages - If the site is being promoted please DO NOT delete any files without checking with the SEO expert as this may seriously affect the site's traffic. It may be that a certain page has no keyword rankings and therefore it's fine to delete it but please check first.

Changing the Structure - Pretty much the same issue as changing the file names. If you are going to delete a directory in favour of moving the pages into the root directory it is going to upset the rankings as those pages are indexed on a specific url such as www.domain.com/directory1/page1.htm so moving them to www.domain.com/page1.htm means all search engine listings and inbound links for that page are now dead and no longer bringing traffic.

If you absolutely have to do this you will need to ensure that workarounds are put in place to minimise the negative impact. It would be best to talk to the SEO expert concerned to find the easiest and most effective workaround.

Framing/De-Framing - Don't change a non-framed site to a framed site unless you have to and if you do make sure that the special considerations that have to be taken into effect for high rankings are implemented.

If you are changing a previously optimised site from frames to non-frames you still need to keep the individual pages that are well indexed live (or at least the file names). You also need to be aware that the noframes section of the main frames page(s) will have been optimised by the SEO expert so changing this to a splash page, for example, is potential going to cost rankings rather than help them.

From Static to Dynamic - Does the entire site have to be changed to a dynamic format? In some cases you can just put a dynamic system behind the existing site. That is preferable as far as search engine promotion is concerned.

If a high ranking static site has to be completely changed to a dynamic format the client should be aware that the rankings will be affected unless the static site can be kept live and a second, dynamic site built to complement it.

Keeping the Optimisation Intact - Keep all existing html titles, meta tags, alt tags and noframes optimisation intact. Be sure to copy and paste your old optimisation into your new design. If the copy has been changed then the optimisation may need to be changed as well.

Planning a Site Redesign
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