An organized website with good content can increase user engagement, and that’s important to other efforts as well, including building social media channels. But when upgrading a website, whether it’s a platform, speed or design change, search engine visibility can be significantly affected. That could be problematic for any organization that depends on Web communications to reach the public – including governments and government agencies.
It’s not uncommon to see drops in traffic with website upgrades, but it’s also possible to tank a website’s rankings and see organic search traffic drop dramatically overnight. It takes a long time to rebuild, which means information on your website no longer reaches people who are searching for it — even though it’s there.
Fortunately, website visibility can be protected as part of website upgrades. Some attention to the following best practices can secure a website’s earned search rankings, and ensure needed improvements have the desired effect — to increase website traffic and utility.
- Use tracking tools to understand site performance before changes are made, as changes are made and periodically after upgrades are launched. Examples of tracking tools include Google Analytics or Adobe Omniture. They measure traffic, page speed, revenue and conversions.
- Test the upgrade of the website – including all landing pages associated with all navigational menu items – on a separate server, if possible, to ensure the technology is working.
- If you are moving the site to a new domain – such as from cityofboston.gov to boston.gov, send the search engines change of address instructions by implementing 301 redirects and updating the sitemap through Google Search Console.
- Resolve duplicate content and error pages identified via a site crawl, using Screaming Frog or Sitebulb.
About the Author
Channing Holman is the Digital Marketing Manager for Praetorian Digital. She is responsible for the execution of SEO and SEM strategies to achieve optimized digital marketing program goals. She is based in Texas.
Learn more about government website updates and government website content migration: