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Posted 29 November 2007 - 10:07 PM
I want to update the site to use a more modern cart and need to do a site redesign to refresh the look. I have contacted several different shopping cart vendors and have received sometimes conflicting ways to not lose our existing ranking on google (e.g., 301 redirects, htaccess redirects, etc)
I looked at Search Fit, Actinic, and PDG Software as potential solutions. I am just really paranoid about changing the cart especially when one of the companies stated we may loose our ranking for a month and then it will come back. From a revenue point of view, we would be hardpressed to loose our ranking for a month.
How do people deal with redesigns and shopping cart updates? We are trying to improve our customer's shopping experience and dont' want to get penalized by losing our ranking.
Any thoughts or ideas how to proceed? Any recommendations? Am I being too concerned here?
Posted 29 November 2007 - 10:24 PM
You are right to take care here.
Firstly, you have a great opportunity right now to consider a new cart/e-commerce system from the point of view of SEO considerations. Some carts are good here and some suck.
Secondly, you do need to get the URLs to "map" across... which for the most part will depend on what your old ones looked like, and whether there is an easy way to write some mod_rewrite rules for permanent redirects.
A good e-commerce company will be able to look at what you've got now and tell you fairly quickly if they can match your URLs for the product pages, etc.
The danger with ad-hoc HTML files is that you may not have a consistent approach to all filenames, and you'll have trouble writing just a handful of mod_rewrite rules to cover all situations...
Posted 29 November 2007 - 10:28 PM
I CAN make a recommendation for a company/software to help you, but am loathe to break some forum rule in that regard.
Perhaps just email me at alister [at] alistercameron.com if you wish. (I'd suggest a PM, but your 19 posts away from that facility being activated.)
Posted 29 November 2007 - 10:29 PM
Reality is that any time you change your URL structure there is going to be some pain. You can limit this pain in a few different ways, but there is no foolproof way to make sure things remain as they now are on the ranking side of things.
Of all the ways I've seen people try to control this, setting up a 301 from each of the old pages to the most appropriate new pages is the cleanest. Depending upon how much things are changing on the pages themselves, many times this can work quite well. Of the myriads of sites (something north of 100 at this point) I've either done this with or had a hand in so had an inside look, most seem to come through fairly unscathed. Meaning a few weeks of fluctuating traffic. That's about the best you can expect when you do this sort of thing.
The tricks are several. Make sure your new cart allows you to get your keyword phrases in all of the most important parts of the page, both in the <title> tag and also in prominent places on the page. This is simply a Must in my book. The main thing you'll want to keep in mind though is to make sure you're releasing any massive changes months prior to your high season. You want to make sure everything has a chance to settle in.
If the timing thing simply isn't possible for one reason or another, there was one time I ran into such a situation. What we did in that case was leave the old pages up at the same url location, change part of the text so that they became a feeder page for the new cart page and let it ride during the high sales season. Of course changing the links and such where appropriate to lead visitors who might find the old pages into your new cart.
I didn't much care for the solution because it felt too much like a typical doorway page to me, and of course required an extra click for users, but it seemed to work pretty well. The old pages tended to stay ranked until/unless they were replaced by the new cart pages as they got indexed. So we kind of rode it out because there was no choice in upgrading to a new cart so that lots of other products could be added.
Then as soon as high season was over with I set up 301's from all of those old pages to their new url location and let the transfer take place.
Not perfect. Not pretty. But it worked the one time I was forced to do it and didn't want to take the chance of losing business during the high season. Like I said above, there is no foolproof way to do what you need to do. So all you can do is try to limit the damage. Scheduling the changeover during slower times is definitely something I recommend.
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