The Internet incorporates hundreds of combinations of website skill sets and technologies. Just because one’s skill set may be that of a “web developer or designer,” do not assume they have all the necessary web skills or know everything they need to know about websites.
Here are must-knows that I’ve come across over the years, that are so important that they are worth noting. It is staggering how many times I’ve encountered the three below must-knows during a web redesign, that weren’t known or implemented by a client’s previous web developer/company.
1. When setting up your hosting: Resist the temptation to accept the hosting company’s suggestion that he set your business up with multiple ‘alias” websites (your website hosted for no extra charge at 5 or more different domain names.) It doesn’t matter what the host says in regards to SEO, what matters is what Google says. And Google penalizes for “alias” websites, AKA “duplicate content.” (Hosting companies are often confused as being SEO-knowledgeable. Remember, they typically specialize in hosting, not SEO.) If you find yourself with more than one domain serving up identical websites, a robots.txt file will block your alias sites from search engine view, and this issue will be resolved.
2. When beginning development: Don’t leave your site’s interior page URL naming to your web developer or web development company, unless they provide SEO as a specialized service and have included an SEO “foundation” in your scope of work. Not all web developers are skilled in SEO, and often they don’t know to include keywords in URLs. (Google weighs heavily on well-named URLs.) So be proactive and ask about the process naming URLs. Or ask to submit your own keywords and suggested URL names. Or hire a company (such as Ad Ventures) that does include SEO in the foundation of a website.
3. When launching your website: If you are one of the lucky few who got on board the internet in the early days and secured a ranking of #1 on Google or Yahoo just for being there, be careful not to lose it just because you launch an updated website. Far too often when a new site gets launched, the old URL gets left behind, only to lead the search engines down the path that you simply don’t exist anymore. So they report your missing site as “404” (page not found.) And within days, your site gets dropped from the search engine indexes.
How does something like this happen? The web developer didn’t know or didn’t take the proper steps to “connect” the old to the new. For example, let’s say you added a database to your new website, so your new URL has a .php file extension, instead of the old HTML file extension. Google doesn’t necessarily assume that they are one in the same. Unless a web developer takes steps by adding the proper redirects from the old URL to the new URL, as well as notifying the search engines of the URL change, your website will be treated as new and starting from the ground up in the search engine rankings.