At some point in your website life, you may need to put your website through a re-build, taking your content from one platform to another. Or, you may have decided to update some web addresses within your site as an attempt to better optimise your content for a range of keywords you’re targeting.
If you’ve recently had a rebuild
If you’ve had a re-build, it’s extremely important to check that that all your current pages and content have being brought across as well as checking to see if the pages’ web addresses have changed somewhat.
If not, then you will possibly log into Google Analytics one day and see something similar to this;
If you’ve recently amended some URLs
If you have (or someone else has) recently gone through your site and amended page URLs to improve your onsite SEO, then it’s important you check that your platform automatically redirects anyone trying to access the old URL.
If your website is an essential part of your business, then you can imagine the potential impact of losing traffic, whether be 50 visits or 5,000 visitors.
How to check that it’s been done
There are a couple of tests that you can use for this, in fact I actually use both ways because it’s very important it is done correctly:
Using Webmaster Tools
Each search engine has their own Webmaster Tools, you’re probably more familiar with the Google one. Taking Google as an example;
- Log into your Webmaster tools account just before you go live and head over to the “Crawl” then “Crawl Errors” section.
- If you’re happy to, remove any crawl errors that are there currently by marking them all as fixed.
- Then, launch your website and keep checking Webmaster tools every couple of days.
- If Google has encountered any issues while trying to reach pages, then this is the place they will tell you.
Using Screaming Frog SEO Spider
This will give you instant results and transparency, if used correctly of course. The free version lets you crawl up to 500 URLs but the paid version is only around £100 per year and gives your unlimited access.
- Before going live, crawl the old website and export the internal HTML data in a .csv format. This will give you a list of all the URLs that the spider has been able to crawl.
- Launch your website then head back over to the Spider, import the site map within “Mode > List” and start a new crawl
- In the column labelled “Response Code”, look for the 404 responses. These page addresses are the ones that do not exist on your current site and have no redirect in place.
With both checks, if you see any pages that are definitely on your new site, chances are the URL format has changed and you’ll just need to pop a 301 Redirect in.
Hope this helps; if you have any questions then feel free to comment below or get is touch on Twitter @SpiralMediaLtd.
Phil Kelsey is the Managing Director of Spiral Media, a Lincoln-based website and online marketing consultancy. Phil and his creative team create online strategies for their clients by combining their design, development and online marketing skills, which involves search engine optimisation to increase traffic and conversions.