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How to approach site redesign to correct poor rankings in Google?

 11:48 pm on Jun 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hi all.
I have a question about redesigning our site. Do to bad file structure, poor navigation and poor rankings in google, we have come to the conclusion that we need to overhaul everything.

for a site that has not ranked well for any keyword, what would be the best way to do it?

Do we put the whole site on no index nofollow and make the changes?
Do we then ask for a reinclusion?

I really need some advice here. We have made some innocent but awful mistakes and want to put things right...

One other question. when using site:www.mydomian.com and the results return 100's of ommitted results. Do the ommitted results mean that the pages are duplicate and or in the supplemental index?

any help would be most appreciated!


Robert Charlton

 12:28 am on Jun 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hi Tyme, and welcome to WebmasterWorld. I think you first need to have an idea of why your site isn't performing well and correct those aspects of content and design.

Is Google able to crawl your site? Are you targeting phrases so competitive that it's unlikely you might rank?

Have you gotten any good inbound links from relevant sites already in the index? Do you have content on the site that's worth linking to? Do the links and content reflect what you're trying to rank for?

How old is your site?

Take a look at the Hot Topics [webmasterworld.com] section, pinned to the top of the Google Search forum home page, and in particular take a look at this classic thread....

Successful Site in 12 Months with Google Alone

Also, do some reading in the forum Library (link up at the top) before you even begin to change the site.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 12:29 am (utc) on June 29, 2008]


 12:44 am on Jun 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

>>Do we put the whole site on no index nofollow and make the changes?

No, if you haven't already, first thing put Google Analytics on the site and see what that, and Webmaster Tools, has to say.

Also, re-do keyword research both for demand and how competitive to see if you're targeting the right keyphrases for the particular site. In some spaces, it takes an *awful* LOT to compete against the sites that are ranking, in which case it's wiser to go after second and third tier phrases first.

If you re-do the site and navigation, accumulate a bit of research first, and base any new site architecture on a hierarchy of keyword choices; then, re-do one section at a time, gradually.

What's the PR of the homepage and interior pages?


 12:04 pm on Jun 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

Tyme i believe first you need to find out where your problem lies and then attack the problem. For eg if your content is a problem then navigation and other things are NOT going to help you much.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 3:55 pm (utc) on June 29, 2008]


 12:11 pm on Jun 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the replys.
Google does crawl the site. The home page has a rank of one, some interior pages have rank of one as well.

We are a content site, and yes we have some very nice content that is oringinal and unique. we knew nothing about SEO when we built it. Our site is 8 months old with only a few back links.

if we make changes to the file structure, how do we do that? And what happens to the stuff we dont keep? I understand about redirecting with a 301, but can we 301 an entire folder? it's really that our file structure do to lack of planning stinks.

we made the mistake of putting one phase into each of our titles and never thought anything of it. all our titles look like this.
<tiltle green widgets-www.mydomain.com-blue and green<title> The only difference is the first word. I understand now that this is bad. Do we go thu and changs them all at once or just maybe 20 or so a day. I suspect now after reading thru here that this has been our 'real' problem after all.

Robert Charlton

 4:35 pm on Jun 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

You clearly need to get more backlinks.

You also need to work on your titles. Titles are the most powerful single onpage element on your pages, and they serve a dual purpose. They tell search engines what your page is about. They also appear in the serps, and as such, the title wording is what prompts users to click through to your site.

Yours sound uninviting to the user, and the "www.mydomain.com" information in the middle is just diluting the relevance of the rest.

Here are a couple of good discussions on titles to check out...

Building the Perfect Page - Part II - The Basics
Developing an effective <title> element.

Title Tags: A badly written title will sink your site
How to sabotage your web site without even knowing it

Looks like you also need to do some reading on what Toolbar PageRank is and what it isn't, and to distinguish that from "ranking." It's not the same thing. Again, start in the Hot Topics section, and then also use site search (link at top of page) to do further research. (That said, a Toolbar PageRank of 1 apparently confirms what you said about having only a few inbound links).

I strongly recommend you do further keyword research... check out the library of the Keyword Forum on WebmasterWorld... and that you also check out discussions on internal navigation (use site search to find them).

if we make changes to the file structure, how do we do that? And what happens to the stuff we dont keep? I understand about redirecting with a 301, but can we 301 an entire folder? it's really that our file structure do to lack of planning stinks.

Do some site search research on using 301 redirects after the redesign of a site. Try this search, eg...

site:webmasterworld.com 301 redirects after site redesign

Generally, I'd suggest that you first check out your current backlinks on both Yahoo Site Explorer and on Google, and not worry about redirecting pages that don't have links coming into them. Those pages will eventually disappear from the index. Redirect other pages to new versions of the same pages (or to a similar page), not to the root.

Note that redirects are for pages whose urls have changed. On pages for which you keep the same filenames or urls, you do not need to redirect pages on which you're simply changing titles or content.

Receptional Andy

 10:39 pm on Jun 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

As you acknowledge, it's the planning stage that caused most of the problems you now see. So I would invest as much time as is practical in planning now. It may be a good time to take a step back.

A good starting point can be to write down the broad goals of the redesign: SEO may be one, usability is likely also high on the list. You can then compare any proposed change to these goals - ideally everything will match all of them, but you need to be clear why you are making the changes if they don't meet all of your objectives.

I find the second crucial part of the planning is in understanding your (potential) audience - from what keywords they're likely to use, to what content and design is going to best fulfil their requirements. This should have an impact on everything that you do with your redevelopment.

You then need to work out how your goals fit with the audience you have, and turn that into actions you undertake: the tricky part.

Time invested in information hierarchy and site structure is likely to pay dividends. Categorising the site is of key importance, and needs to be bother user-friendly and reflect the words and concepts that your intended audience is likely to use. It also needs to accommodate your existing content, but also allow for significant future expansion, and the aim should be for neither categories or the URLs that reflect them to change, ever. Try to lay a foundation for the site that means you will never have to migrate content again.

I would advise mapping out and testing a structure (to the URL level) a number of times before changing anything.

And of course, once you have the structure sorted, you then need a (CMS?) system that is able to deliver that structure. At some point, you might even get on to looking at the content itself ;)


 11:54 pm on Jun 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

Our site is 8 months old with only a few back links.

There is your answer.

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