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SEO Planning Saves Your Company Time and Money

Let me give you a good piece of SEO advice: learn from other peoples’ mistakes.

Yes, I do sound more like my mother every day. But that’s not the point.

The point is that Pilot Fish has been spending a good bit of time lately – and, even more to the point, our clients have been paying a good bit of their hard-earned cash lately – to fix problems that could have easily been avoided.

As an example, one of our SEO clients came to us recently, asking for insights into why their site wasn’t ranking on the search engines as well as it used to for a specific search term.

After a little digging around, we discovered that the page that originally ranked well for the term had been changed during a recent website redesign the company had handled internally. The page now contained different text that the search engines didn’t associate as strongly with the search term as the old text. The original content was still part of the site but shunted off to a pop-up box that the search engines have a hard time accessing.

We deleted the pop-up and used the original content to create a new, full web page that the search engines can easily access and understand. It’ll take some time – plus a few links from industry blogs and social media sites – but the “new” page should eventually help the site improve its search engine performance on that term.

Another client made a series of decisions – redesigning their website’s products section, moving to a new, more logical domain name and following Google’s recommendation to switch from http to https – that each on its own made sense. But, each of these changes had a significant effect on incoming links, which were no longer pointing to the right page or domain.

Losing many backlinks in one fell swoop can cause your site to drop in its search engine rankings. Our client was made aware of the ramifications and, fortunately, decided to have us make the changes during a seasonal slow period to mitigate the damage.  We’re now in the process of updating backlinks to get the site back to its prior search engine positions. 

These are both stories about unintended SEO consequences of logical business decisions – consequences that your company can mitigate or avoid with some extra forethought and planning.

Whenever a big change is suggested for your company website, take a step back and ask the following questions:

1.     Is this change going to affect the content of any existing pages?

a.     If so, do those pages perform well on the search engines for terms important to your company?

b.     If high-ranking pages are going to be affected, is there a way to keep those pages intact while still achieving the goals of the current changes?

c.     If not, is there a way to take the content from the high-ranking pages and re-use it to create new pages on the site?

2.     Is this change going to affect any URLs (web page addresses)?

a.     What social media sites and other online resources link to those pages?

b.     Who will go in and update the links on those websites that go back to your website?

3.     Will these changes affect other parts of the website? For instance, an FAQ that links to pages that are going to be removed or substantially changed.

a.     Who will go through the site, identify this secondary level of affected pages and revise them to reflect the currently planned changes?

4.     What other changes are being considered for the website?

a.     How will those changes affect the currently planned revisions?

b.     Are there efficiencies that can be achieved by waiting and making all of the changes at the same time?

There are some SEO practices that every website owner should have in place that can make this process easier.

For one thing, regularly monitoring your website’s search engine performance will allow you to quickly identify pages that are performing well and that should be treated with care when site changes are under consideration.

A blogging/social media/linking calendar not only helps a company stay on target with its SEO campaigns, but also makes it easier to figure out what posts will need to be adjusted once the changes are in place.

The important thing is to remember to always question any changes suggested for your company’s website – don’t accept the easy “Oh, don’t worry” answer. Get the proof you need that the planned revisions have been carefully thought out and that any possible consequences can be accounted for.

And don’t be afraid to get help. A well-established industrial SEO company familiar with your business can make sure you’ve got all your bases covered.

In this case, an ounce of prevention is worth a several pounds of cure.


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