So you’ve had your website up for awhile, and let’s face it, it’s showing its age. Maybe you’ve had some major changes in your life and mission…maybe you’ve moved to a new address or joined up with a partner…maybe you’ve added some great new services and completely shifted the direction of your business. Whatever the cause, you look at your website now and think – this has GOT to go!
So you start re-examining everything from the ground up…the fees you’re paying your hosting company, the colors and logo and design that you’ve chosen to represent you, the structure and tone and content of the copy. And it’s oh-so-tempting to just decide – I don’t like any of this. Just drop it, let it go, start over!
And so you find a better-priced host, a developer who understands your vision (or a free DIY drag-and-drop site builder), set up your new hosting package and switch over your domain, scuttling your ugly old site in the process. You set up a gorgeous new design and post “Under Construction” on the empty pages, figuring you can fill them up with content as you have time…
DON’T DO THAT!
Why not? Well, for two major reasons that far too many solopreneurs find out too late…after seeing their site’s Google ranking, traffic, and revenue plummet.
First and most important reason – incoming links.
If your website has been online for any significant length of time, and if it has any substantive content to it at all – or if you have colleagues who refer clients to you online, listings in professional directories, a Facebook fan page, a YouTube channel or assorted videos, a third-party blog, perhaps a book or two on Amazon – you have links directed to your website. Not just to your website URL (www. yourwebsite. com) but to the specific address of each page on your host’s server.
Your Google ranking is based in large part on the number of incoming links to your site, as well as the quality of the sites that are linking to you. When you move your domain to a new host, all of those old host-specific addresses are wiped out – and with them, your incoming links. So even if your site is high on the first page of Google for your modality, you will – repeat will – be relegated to the lowest listings (if you are listed at all) when the gorgeous but echoing empty new pages replace your creaky old site.
You can prevent this by having your hosting company perform a 301 Redirect at the time you switch. This literally, well, redirects those incoming links to the address of your new host’s servers. There is usually a charge for this service, but it is well worth the cost when you consider the value of those links in bringing business to your door.
And that’s not the only reason why you shouldn’t just scrap your creaky old site just yet….
Next reason: content.
It’s surprising how many solopreneurs don’t realize: even the creakiest, ugliest site with content will serve you better than the most gorgeous site with blank pages and “Under Construction” icons. Even if you don’t have metatags on your site, search engines identify the words used most frequently in your web content and use them to index your site. And if there’s no content – of course, there’s no listing.
What’s the solution here? Don’t – repeat, don’t – switch over your site until you have the content ready to plug in, at least for the key pages. You can always add links later to brochures, videos, etc. – but if you don’t have at least the core content (preferably with metatags), you will be wiping your site out of the search engine rankings.
A reputable hosting company will know this, and will advise you to keep your existing site online while your new site is in development (under your account name but without a domain, accessible to your editing but hidden from the world). Then, when all of your content is ready, they’ll point the nameservers over to their address, perform the redirect, and within 24-48 hours your beautiful, functional site is online.
If your proposed web developer doesn’t know about doing this, you might do well to consider working with somebody else.
If all of this sounds a bit overwhelming – perhaps more time-intensive than you’re ready to handle – call us! While Your Words’ Worth is not a web development or hosting company, our Zero Headache Website Makeover package is designed to help you through all the phases of this process – smoothly, without the huge horrific errors that many solo practitioners endure (and we’ve also survived!). We’ve set up alliances with affordable and highly-rated resources to serve your online needs. And in-house, we have more than 25 years of professional writing experience to communicate your vision in your voice.