Spider works is a leading digital marketing company that has been helping companies, businesses and people to increase their ROI through effective marketing strategies. Using online resources such as websites, to improve conversions is one of the key aspects of our digital strategies. This is also one of the proven methods to increase the ROI effectively.
Website Analysis is the foremost step of digital marketing and strategising for any new project. A website optimisation expert goes through an intensive and hand-crafted checklist of about 100 checkpoints. These checkpoints offer deep analysis of the website. This auditing is a combination of manual process and certain automation tools.
The website structure and navigation path are the most crucial factors that decide your ROI. Having a properly structured website is essential. It has the following benefits:
- User Navigation becomes easier.
A properly structured website makes it easier for the readers to browse the website; menu; website sections and reach the information being looked for. The number of conversions is proportional to the number of readers reaching the intended page. So, more reach means more conversions.
- Better Ranking.
A properly structured website ranks better on search engines. The smart search engines like Google can gradually understand the hierarchy of your website content and use this information for displaying more accurate results from your website. Thus, the content hierarchy directly influences the ranking and ROI.
- Meaningful Breadcrumbs Schema.
An organised content means building more meaningful breadcrumbs schema, which in turn, supports in improving website presence in various search results.
- Effective Schema Building.
Segregation of different content types into different website sections also helps in building the Schema in a more effective manner. For example, grouping all the reviews into a category, allows you to build the Review schema for all pages in that category. Similarly, having another category for Articles, allows you to use the “Article” schema for it.
Though there are many other advantages of proper website structuring, they are of more technical nature. Let’s move ahead and find out more about website restructuring.
What are the important points to consider while restructuring a website?
Restructuring a website is a major event in the life of a website. Analogically, it is comparable to major heart surgery in humans. A small mistake can cause catastrophic losses and bring your ranking and traffic down torrentially. We have done restructuring for several high traffic websites in the past that enabled us to acquire a sterling experience in the domain.
In this post, we have compiled some highly beneficial tips to handle website restructuring. You can read them and learn more from an expert’s point of view.
1. Audit your website.
Restructuring a website is a major task and when it is under process, you can utilize this opportunity to fix the other problems in your website as well? Hence, doing a complete website audit to find all the other issues is highly recommended. You can use automated tools and go for manual auditing to find website issues. Site audit.in is an excellent tool to get started with your website audit. You can also opt for an SEO consultant. By combining the overall issue addressing the website restructuring, you can reduce a lot of redundant efforts.
2. Choose the right strategy
Website restructuring can be implemented in various ways:
Do all changes together and choose a day to switch over to the new structure (highest risk but most practical)
Change pages one by one to the new structure, thus measuring the impact through a gradual process (medium risk and ideal for small sites)
Keep old pages and URLs as it is but build new pages with a new structure and eventually make the old pages fade away from the visibility (lowest risk, highest efforts)
We have used all these strategies for various clients and they all prove effective to overcome various scenarios. For instance, one of our clients with large banking has a huge volume of traffic from organic sources. When we took the project, we didn’t want to take any risk and opted the slow migration process.
We chose a mixed approach – for some low traffic sections and we did an ‘all-at-once’ switch over to the new structure. Some pages that receive very high traffic from search engines were retained as it is for years until they eventually lost the traffic to some of the new pages we built. For many other pages, we implemented a system where we manually changed the existing URL to a new URL for moving them to a new content structure. The entire process went very well and we were able to make a significant improvement in the search engine ranking and user experience after the migration was over.
3. Look for content stolen from your website and file DMCA
This is something that we learnt through bitter experience. We were working on website migration for one of our clients who runs a popular technology portal. Other websites used to steal articles from this website but the client wasn’t concerned about it much. At that time, the search engines anyways considered his site as the original source and ranked it above all the copycats.
However, after the website restructuring, somehow Google missed to correctly understand the new site even though we followed all the best practices. Many of the copycat sites started ranking above the original articles on Google search results for a short period of time. This problem got fixed eventually when Google re-indexed all of the pages. But we found issues when we tried to file DMCA on the articles that were copied from us. Since the URLs changed, many of our DMCA requests were denied since the reviewers were not convinced that we were the source of the original content.
Due to the change in the URLs, many of our pages were considered as new content and the copied webpages had an older date.
So, all in all, before you go for website restructuring, it is advised to scan for content copied from your website and file DMCA with the major search engines.
4. Implement 301-redirect
When the site structure changes the URLs also change. Since the search engine ranking is tied to the URLs, when the URLs change, the traffic ranking also gets affected. By properly implementing ‘301-redirect’ from old pages to the new pages, you can convey the message to search engines that the ranking of the old URLs needs to be transferred to the corresponding new URLs. This is the most important task involved in website restructuring.
5. Review most linked URLs
Open Google Search Console and look for the most linked pages on your website. See if you can retain the most linked URLs during the website restructuring process; especially if they still fit well in the new plan. Retaining the most linked URLs will be the lowest risk option. But if those URLs do not fit well in the new plan, let’s move on and change them. However, you must try to maintain a list of those linked URLs to ensure they all get redirected to the corresponding new URLs. The ‘301-redirect’ proves highly beneficial in this regard.
6. Review internal links
If you have been efficiently managing your content and links, you would have created a lot of internal links between your pages. However, a change in website structure is going to break them all. This can bring down the user experience which, in turn, lowers the search engine ranking.
To deal with this issue, you can use a ‘broken link testing tool’ and scan the site for broken links. Also, go for a manual audit session and look for the cross-linking pattern of the web pages. The manual auditing proves better than the tool-based auditing in many cases. While a tool can check the technical aspect of links, you can do a better and more meaningful internal linking.
7. Come up with the best structure
Website restructuring is something you do once in a lifetime for your website. So, it is highly important that you properly. Organize detailed brainstorming sessions with your digital team. If you don’t have digital experts with experience in this regard, you can also take help from some reputed professional consultant. SpiderWorks has extensive experience in website restructuring and offers a holistic service portfolio for all kinds of digital development.
8. Retain the old website
Even after your new website goes live, you will have several reasons to refer to the old structure. So, keep a copy of your old website ready for reference. In most cases, we maintain a backup of the previous version as a sub-domain (something like http://backup.primarydomain.com). Remember to use robots.txt or no-index meta tags to block this backup from getting indexed on Google. Otherwise, it can lead to other issues such as duplicate content. I would recommend you keep the old copy until the new website is fully operational in all aspects and all the old pages are completely removed from search engines.
9. Dedicate Proper Time
Website restructuring has a lot of risks with major consequences. Many things can go wrong when the new site goes live. So, make sure to invest proper time and effort for this process. We recommend avoiding this in case you are involved in another major project to avoid any unexpected happenings. Choose a period when you have enough time to focus on this makeover.
10. Avoid your busy season
Website restructuring can cause a fluctuation in ranking and website traffic for many days. It may also take several days or weeks for proper settlement and for the traffic to return to normal. If your business depends a lot on the organic traffic from your website, it is better to avoid restructuring during the busy season.
For example, if your website is a travel portal, November – January is the busiest time; since many people plan their travels during this time. Analyze your traffic pattern and figure out the least busy months. That will be the best time to lose some business from organic traffic.
11. Submit sitemaps
Once your new site goes live, make sure to submit the new sitemap files to search engines. Even though the modern search engines are smart and automatically crawl the websites without the help of sitemaps, it is a good idea to help them find your new URLs quickly. In case of websites with dynamic pages like articles or product listing, it is relatively easier to generate dynamic sitemaps based on the content from the database. In case of websites with static pages, you will have to create static sitemaps manually or with the help of some sitemap generation tools. Also, submitting sitemaps will help you closely monitor how many of your new URLs are already indexed on Google.
12. Change web hosting
Did you find a better hosting provider but still didn’t want to switch-over since you just didn’t find the right time to do so? If the answer is yes, then the time has come!
While your old website continues to run on the old server, you can buy the new hosting plan and upload your new site to the new server. You may use a temporary domain or subdomain and evaluate the performance of your website on the new server. Once you complete the testing, you can switch your domain to the new server. If you have paid up for a longer-term on the old server, you may retain your old website on the old server by pointing a subdomain or a temporary domain but remember to block it from search engines.
13. Change links from external websites
Old websites have a lot of organic backlinks from other websites as well. Further, the website receives links from all link building activities as well. Though ‘301-redirects’ can help you in diverting the ranking of old URLs to new URLs, they are completely fool-proof. You can end up losing our ranking over a period of time; especially if you don’t get backlinks to the new URLs. It is easier to change the old links to the new URLs as compared to waiting for the organic backlinks to come up for your new pages.
You can also contact the webmasters of the sites that are linking to your old URLs. Explain the entire scenario to them and request for changing the link from the old URL to the corresponding new pages.
Are you ready to get started?
Restructuring the pages and URLs on your website is one of the biggest risk activities for any website. In addition to the tips and pointers mentioned above, you can go for this excellent resource from Google. If you are not an expert in handling this kind of activities from an SEO perspective, it is better to hire an SEO consultant or a digital marketing agency to execute this. Spider works is a leading and highly reliable digital marketing agency in Dubai that offers website restructuring and many other services.
Stop wasting time and efforts in speculating and join hands with us to give your online presence an entirely novel and better than the best makeover!