Ask twenty web developers the best way to migrate a website and not lose any Google rankings and you’ll probably get twenty different answers, and the deeper and more detailed ones are likely to relate to large volume and highly competitive websites which is a market we stay well clear of.
We operate in the small business market and simply do what we consider best practices to move a site onto our server and make sure the web visitor statistics from Google don’t drop when we do that. Where we have the previous months statistics from the site was with someone else, we always compare that to the statistics form our first month of hosting, and given what we do and the market we are in, we don’t notice any drop in business for our clients.
For those of you who want to know a little bit of detail about this, we are happy to explain what it is we do, and if anyone has any comments or advice on this, then please feel free to email us – we’re always open to learning!
So to understand this, it’s good to know a bit about how Google works. Essentially it ‘reads’ your website and tries to rank it against your competitors in terms of how valid it is in comparison to the search term typed in by a web surfer.
Its little electronic spiders that crawl the web don’t have eyes so they can’t view an image but they can read text and report back to Google.
So when they come to your site (and this doesn’t happen every day – it can take months sometimes for their work to take effect in your search results) they read the page titles and descriptions. These are invisible behind your site but appear in Googles search results (the title is blue and the description under that) and your web designer has control over what goes in here. Like:
Wellington Region Balustrades, Fences & Gates | Superior Balustrades
We fabricate from powdercoated aluminium, stainless steel & glass materials, & offer a professional and personal service backed up with quality workmanship.
Google also looks at the page name and if it notices a change, can become a bit alarmed and change it’s ranking of a page. BY this we mean that if a page in your current site is sitename.co.nz/all-about-us and in the new site it is sitename.co.nz/about, we do what are called 301 redirects of old page names to new and this is know to solve that issue with Google. We build these in your new site as part of the behind-the-scenes stuff which is just good practice.
We also make sure the content in the new pages is how Google would like to find it as it reads that as well (so use proper text styles like H1 headers etc).
And lastly, as we said Google’s spiders can’t view images – but they can read image names and descriptions so we pay attention to those when we’re doing the pre-going-live stuff.
We find that this works fine as a system for the type of websites we supply and the market we operate in, but as we said before, we always welcome feedback or new information/suggestions by email.