Skip navigation
SEO Website Audit

High Rankings Advisor: Maintain Your Rankings After a Redesign - Issue No. 097

May 5, 2004

*Search Engine Marketing:
---->   Maintain Your Rankings After a Redesign

*This Week's Sponsors:
---->   IBP Award-winning SEO Software
---->   SmartSearch Marketing NYC PPC Workshop
---->   SEO Copywriting Kit

*Guest Article:
---->   Monetizing Non-converting Traffic with Adsense

*High Rankings Forum Thread of the Week:
---->   Who's My Target Audience?

*This Week's Sound Advice:
---->   Paying Your Way to Search Engine Success

*Advisor Wrap-up:
---->   The Butterflies Are Coming!

~~~Introductory Comments~~~

Hey everyone!  This week I received an email from one of my long-term
clients whose site I optimized sometime in the 90's.  They're taking
the plunge into a new site design, and wanted to be sure they don't
lose all their hundreds of rankings.  They emailed me with some
questions as to the best way to approach things, and I thought it
would be worthwhile to share my answers with you.

Everyone needs to redesign at some point, but the fear of losing
existing rankings can be pretty scary.  Don't worry; as long as you
are careful, chances are you can keep your high rankings.  Plus, your
spiffy new design will most likely convert your site visitors into
buyers much better than your dinosaur of a site from the 90's!

So let's get straight to the good stuff! - Jill

~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~

++Maintain Your Rankings After a Redesign++

Hi Jill,

We are redoing the web site and wanted to make sure we preserve your
SEO work that has kept us at the top...what are the things we need to
be aware of to ensure continued success?

Can we use ASP or PHP pages?
Will minor changes to the text have an impact?
Use of Flash, just in limited places?
New graphics files?
New link names inside the page to navigate?
Anything else?

Thank you so much!!


++Jill's Response++

Hi Brent,

> Can we use ASP or PHP pages?

Yes, you can definitely use those, but just remember that your URLs
will change, making all your current high-ranking pages 404 errors in
the search engines.  Make sure you have a custom 404-error page up to
catch those people who come in through those pages at the search
engines.  Using a nice sitemap page as your 404-error page is often
good for that purpose.

Also make sure you're not using more than 3 query string parameters in
the URLs of your dynamic pages.  They are hard to get indexed
sometimes, although Google seems to index some of them these days.

Again, using a sitemap will help, because you want to make sure you
have static links to your dynamic URLs.  (Read my interview with Alan
Perkins about dynamic sites for more info:

> Will minor changes to the text have an impact?

Minor changes to the text will probably not have an impact if they are
indeed minor and you're not removing keyword phrases.

> Use of Flash just in limited places?

Flash is fine if it's used like regular .gif or .jpg graphics.  Entire
pages embedded in Flash are definitely a bad idea because there will
be no content for the search engines to index.

> New graphics files?

This should not be a problem.

> New link names inside the page to navigate?

This is where it starts to get sticky.  Eventually, the engines will
spider through the site and index all your new pages, but there's no
guarantee that they'll all rank as they currently do.  Theoretically
they should.  It probably won't happen overnight, however.  Don't be
surprised to have a 1-2 month period where you're waiting for your new
pages to get listed.  Also, don't be surprised if you see the new
pages in the index and then they're gone again.  That's normal and is
nothing to be concerned with.  Just be patient.  I would guess that
you should begin to see if you're doing okay within 4-6 weeks of
launch, possibly sooner.

You can also set up complicated redirects from the old URLs to the
new, which will help, but only Google handles redirects well at the
moment.  I feel that it's a better idea to take the temporary pain of
getting the new pages indexed, than to forever keep the old URLs
redirected.  You could compromise and redirect the old pages for a
month or two and then take them (or the redirects) down.  That should
work fine with Google at least.

Let me know if you have any additional questions.

Good luck!


__________IBP Award-winning SEO Software______________adv.

High search engine rankings in Google and the new Yahoo!

IBP is an award-winning software program that helps your web
pages get top rankings in Google and in Yahoo's new search
engine.  Reach 94% of all Internet users!

Thousands of satisfied webmasters all over the world swear by
IBP. Why? Because it just works. Recommended by many experts.

Free trial: <>

++Brent's Additional Questions++


Thanks for the response...please take a moment to make sure we are all
clear because we were very fortunate to have the benefit of your
expertise once and I do not want to lose even a single rank during
this process.  If we follow what is listed below, we will remain on
top like nothing ever happened, right?

1.  PHP and ASP are out.  Just use good old-fashioned HTML.

2.  Links inside the page cannot be changed or removed...the new site
must use all the same URLs and links as the original web site,
including graphics names.

3.  Flash is okay, just no building the entire site out of it.

4.  We must use a sitemap...did the old site have one we should just

Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to respond to our
emails, and so very promptly at that.  8-)

Warmest Regards,


++Jill's Response++

Hi Brent,

> If we follow what is listed below we will remain on top like nothing
ever happened, right?<

I can't be 100% positive, but for the most part, as long as the
following conditions are met, your rankings should basically stay
where they are.

- Page URLs are all still there and are using the same file names (and
- The links are all still there and easily "follow-able."
- The copy on the pages is basically kept the same.

It would be a good idea to show me the prototype site before you make
it live so I can let you know if I see anything that might hinder your
efforts at keeping your rankings, especially if you plan to rewrite
some of the copy.

See below for additional comments.

> 1.  PHP and ASP are out.  Just use good old-fashioned HTML. <

That will definitely help keep things the same.  However, if it makes
your design and updating work on the site a lot easier to use PHP or
ASP, then don't be too scared to just bite the bullet and do it.

> 2.  Links inside the page cannot be changed or removed...the new
site must use all the same URLs and links as the original web site,
including graphics names. <

I wouldn't worry about the names of your graphic images.  But you'd
want the URLs to remain the same for maximum benefit.

> 3.  Flash is okay, just no building the entire site out of it. <

Correct.  Little bits for emphasis, instead of a static graphic for
instance, are fine.

>4.  We must use a sitemap...

If you're not changing your file extensions to .asp or .php or
whatever, and you don't currently have a sitemap, it's not necessary.
It's always nice to have one though.  If you have an old one that will
be staying basically the same (same links), then yes, continue to use
it (or a newly designed version).

> Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to respond to our
emails, and so very promptly at that.  8-) <

No problem.  The last one wasn't actually "prompt" for me.  [Took me a
few days <gasp!>]  This one is better! ;-)  [Took me a few minutes!

Let me know if you have any other questions.


________________Don't miss out!______________________adv.

Just a few seats remain in the New York City May 20th workshop

"10 Steps to Successful Search Advertising"

Attend this essential event presented by SmartSearch Marketing.
You'll learn a simple yet effective process for managing a successful
and *affordable* pay-per-click campaign.  Maximize your ROI!


~~~Guest Article~~~

++ Monetizing Non-converting Traffic with Adsense++

Doug Bates wrote today's guest article about generating revenue from
site visitors who don't buy.  Doug is an Internet marketing consultant
and the principal of Aderit Internet Marketing Consulting
<>.  Aderit's focus is on improving the
profitability of online businesses through techniques such search
engine marketing and conversion enhancements.  When he's not too busy,
Doug is also a contributor to our High Rankings forum (user name of
Cline), where he always provides an interesting and unique perspective
on things.

Without further ado, here's Doug! - Jill

Monetizing Non-converting Traffic with Adsense
By Doug Bates

Conventional wisdom holds that sites that exist for ecommerce or
lead-generation purposes should not run advertising.  Why would you
want to send your hard-earned traffic elsewhere?  Take that as a
serious question and not a rhetorical one, and you may see cases where
there are good reasons to send your traffic elsewhere - and get paid
for doing so!

Successful search engine marketing casts a broad net.  As with
fishing, a broad net catches some junk fish.  Smart fishermen figure
out how to sell those fish, even though they're not the fish they're
looking for.

The biggest clue that you may have an opportunity to earn revenue off
of this junk traffic is in your customer correspondence.  Are you
repeatedly getting inquiries about things you don't offer?  (Of course
such inquiries may indicate you should expand your product offers, but
that's a different way of looking at the question.)  Another clue is
that there are product lines that your competitors often carry but you
don't.  Or there's something related to your product that there's a
demand for, but for whatever reasons it's not practical for you or
your competitors to sell the product.

If any of the above are true, try adding a page on your site for the
item you don't offer, explaining that you don't offer it, and display
ads from the Google Adsense program

If your site is in the business of selling things, rather than a site
that earns its revenues from advertising, you may be unfamiliar with
the Google Adsense program.  If you're running Google AdWords
<> ads for your site, you may be
familiar with AdWords' Content Delivery
<> option,
where your AdWords ads run on non-search-engine sites.  Using a system
based on the same technology Google uses to determine what sites are
most relevant for a search query, Google's Adsense system figures out
what subjects a particular webpage is about and delivers ads that are
most relevant to that subject.  The cost per click that the AdWords
advertiser pays is collected by Google and shared - pretty
generously - with the website running the advertising.

As the site owner, you control where the Adsense ads will appear and
how they will look.  You don't have to have ads all over your site.
You can have ads on just one or a few carefully chosen pages - which
is what we're talking about here.

Guess what people do when they're searching for something you don't
sell and they come to a page saying you don't sell it?  They click
away from your site.  Why not give them some ads to click on?  When
testing this, we've seen amazingly high clickthrough rates - over 40%
in some cases.  With Adsense ads, that's cash straight to your bottom
line, from traffic that wasn't going to buy from you anyway.

In addition, we have seen a dramatic reduction in requests for
products that aren't offered.  Eliminating these inquiries reduces
your spending on customer service, which means more money to your
bottom line.

"But what if those ads running on my site advertise my competitors?"
you might ask.  This is not a problem.  With the Adsense program you
can specify any domain name whose ads you don't want running on your
site, and eliminate them.

Getting ads that are relevant for a product you don't offer increases
clickthroughs, which increases your revenues.  Google Adsense
evaluates a webpage similarly to how the Google search engine does to
determine whether the page is appropriate for a particular search. As
with search engine optimization, while you cannot control what Google
does, you can influence it.

First, do a few searches on Google to determine whether there are
specific ads you'd like to have appear on the webpage for the product
you don't offer.  For example, if you don't sell underwater widgets,
search Google for "underwater widgets" to see if there are AdWords ads
for sites that do.  If there are, you're in luck.  Having these
particular ads run on your webpage will mean sky-high clickthroughs.

Next, if you know how to write a search engine optimized webpage, you
already know how to write the page that will optimize delivery of
Adsense ads.  It's really the same thing.  Optimize the page
concentrating on the key phrases that are most likely to trigger the
ads you'd like to see running on that webpage.  If the ads aren't
relevant enough, you can keep tweaking the text until you get the
right ads to run.  Getting the right ads to run can dramatically
increase your clickthroughs and revenues.

One last thing that's also nice about this is that not only are you
doing something good for yourself, you're also doing something good
for your visitor because you're helping direct them to a site that may
better meet their needs.

Doug Bates
Aderit Internet Marketing Consulting


MarketingSherpa's SEO Copywriting Kit with Jill Whalen

Includes Jill's "Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines"
handbook, the audio CDs and transcript of Jill's recent teleseminar
with Anne Holland, PLUS a bonus copy of Karon Thackston's new "How
To Increase Keyword Saturation Without Destroying the Flow of Your
Copy" ebook.  The teleseminar CD and transcript portion includes
Jill's verbal review of a ton of sites belonging to the seminar

A *steal* at only $99!  </seowritingkit>

~~~High Rankings Forum Thread of the Week~~~

++Who's My Target Audience?++

Do you think that your target audience is "anyone with an Internet
connection and a credit card"? If so, this thread is for you!

Forum member "thephonecafe" wonders what the general guidelines, tips
and advice are for people who are keen to learn more about their
target audience, and then how to write for them.

Read the replies and place your own 2 cents here:

~~~Sound Advice~~~

++Paying Your Way to Search Engine Success++

(This audio recording changes each week.)

~~~Advisor Wrap-up~~~

That's all for today!  Next week is the Search Engine Strategies
conference in Toronto, so there'll be no newsletter.  I hope to see
many of you there.  It will be nice to catch up with old friends and
new.  Please be sure to introduce yourself to me if you're there.  In
the last session on the first day, I'm speaking on writing for the
search engines (and your users) with my friend and copywriter, Karon

Remember last week I told you about the caterpillars in their cocoons?
Well, they've just started hatching (or whatever it is they do)!  We
had one butterfly emerge yesterday, and so far there have been 3 more
today.  I've been watching them closely, hoping to see one being
"born" but I keep missing it.  I think they wait for me to go back to
typing and then they sneak out!

I'm just waiting for Timmy to get home so he can see them all.  Corie
is supposed to be picking him up from school, but I have a sneaking
suspicion that she may have lost track of time, as they should be home
by now.  And of course, she has no cell phone after losing hers in

Ah well, I'm sure she'll remember shortly and/or they'll be home any
minute.  (Update...I was just about to call her friend's cell when she
got never fails!  She didn't forget, she just got stuck in
some traffic.)

Catch you in two weeks! - Jill
Email a FriendPrintRSS