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Checklist for well-ranked site relaunch
The steps I am taking before a site relaunch, what else?
jexx




msg:3030542
 7:17 pm on Aug 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

Preparing a major site relaunch for a site that has been around for about 6-7 years. The site ranks extremely well for relevant keywords, both generic and widget specific. For years, the main argument against redesign and relaunch was to not "disturb the beast", so-to-speak, and impact the SERPs. However, due to the aging design and difficulty to manage content it was decided that the site needed a face lift and overhaul. Another argument was to increase conversions based on better content etc.

Anyways, here is a non-exhaustive list of the steps that I have taken in order to (whatever extend it is possible) prevent dropping in the SERPs. Feedback for additional steps (or steps that should *not* be done) is appreciated..

* Redesigned link structure with keyword-rich URLs, designed in a logical manner

* .htaccess based 301 redirects from _all_ old internal links to the new corresponding URL

* XHTML 1.0 Transitional validated page (I know it's basically HTML4.01 but IE doesn't do full XHTML text/xml well..)

* CSS validated style sheets included as files

* Majority of JavaScript included in files (to keep content to code ratio down)

* Compliant robots.txt file (nothing changed here..)

* Sitemap; linked from the footer of every page

* Custom 404 page with sitemap links

* XSLT compliant Google sitemap.xml file (for submission to G!)

* DHTML based products menu with sub category DIVs styled as display:block for internal linking (they are later collapsed by JavaScript for user readability)

* Javascript based Flash detection serves static images to non-JS browsers and robots instead of rich-Flash content (note: value added stuff, never navigation or critical SEO content in Flash)

* Meta Tags/Titles: Old site had some products with unique titles/meta tags and most other pages used globals. Old internal pages (that rank well) retain current unique meta tags, while other internal pages are given new optimized meta tags

* rel="nofollow" on 'Print View' links etc. that could trigger dupe content filters..?

* Extensively rewritten and expanded site content with unique and grammatically correct copy.

* Before relaunch, slowly updated some of this new content as to not dump too much new content at one time, since the relaunch has to be site-wide.

* Carefully matched old to new URLs with 301 redirects, as well as slowly adding corresponding pages to the current site for otherwise new links (prevent triggering sandbox/tarpit behavior by SEs from dumping too many new links)

* Keep track of the major SE's IP ranges to prevent them from getting stuck in the "bad bot" spider trap

* New internal site search feature (not sure if this would have any impact possitive or negative?)

* Division of the 'Links' section into subcategories, but maintaining current outgoing links.

Hopefully this helps others in the same situation..

 

coopster




msg:3030788
 10:37 pm on Aug 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

Nice work. Here are a couple of other links that you might find helpful. The first is if you are actually considering change the domain itself and the second is when you are moving to another server. Somewhat relative, so I thought I'd add them here:
Site change of URL [webmasterworld.com]
Moving website to another server [webmasterworld.com]

jexx




msg:3030816
 11:19 pm on Aug 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

i've done both URL and IP changes in the past and from my experience, neither one require even close to as much attention.
it basically is just a matter of pointing the SEs in the _correct_ direction rather than convincing them that this whole new "mess" encountered is the same thing, or really, even better :-p ..

nevertheless, well-worthy additions coopster.

coopster




msg:3030842
 12:02 am on Aug 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

Times change, no doubt, but eliminating any possible issues is still good practice. I mean, look at the list you developed here as an example! Good planning, and following the plan, usually end up in success. Best wishes during the transition.

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