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    Upgrading Site to improve ranking/conversion rate.


    Hi everyone.


    I’m new to this forum and was hoping that I could get some advice/insight on how to properly upgrade a web site without negatively affecting the current Google rankings in order to improve our rankings and conversion rate?

    Here is a little background. For some time our web site has ranked number 1 for several important keywords.

    With in the last year or so we have begun to notice several changes with regards to Google SERP, Google algorithm, the increase and level of competition, our traffic and our conversion rate.

    It’s no secret that Google has been busy making large and small changes the last couple of years. Many websites have been affected positively and negatively. We’ve seen a couple of our keyword rankings fall from number 1 to 2 or 3 and are scared that this trend may continue. I think our drop in rankings has as much to do with our competitors as it has to do with Google since they likely have been pushing for quite some time to beat us.

    Obviously this all means loss of traffic for us. But even more disconcerting is that I have also noticed a drop in our conversion rate. I believe this is a direct result of more and better competition.

    So after much analysis and debate I decided that the best thing we could do is to first tackle our web site by upgrading it to be more “professional” and competitive against other sites. The original design has much to be desired and when compared by visitors against other sites, they’ll likely choose the other sites.

    Back to the question at hand …

    The planned upgrade will be done in phases. First I want to change the “look” of the site while attempting to keep the majority of the site content and link structure intact. Next I would like to tweak the current content and structure to make it a little better. After this, I would like to add more sections and information to the site to make it larger and deeper in content. Finally I would like to solicit links. Is my planned approach flawed or can it be done better?

    Any insight into this would be greatly appreciated. This is one of those situations where the little guy is trying to stand up against the much bigger competition!


    Thanks,
    Olimess
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    Your approach sounds great. Keeping the raw content the same and keeping the link structure the same is the best method.

    VERY IMPORTANT: Keep your page names the same, i.e. products.html should stay products.html. google ranks pages by their exact name, changing the name will reset the page to 0 and you will lose any back links that were pointing to that page, because now they would be pointing to the wrong page.

    If you end up having to change some page names, make sure you set up a page by page 301 redirect from the old ones to the new pages.

    The internal link structure, as much as you can salvage wouldnt be a bad idea, keep the same anchor text pointing to the same pages as before etc.

    I am also sure your competition has been doing SEO, you must keep up to compete. You are on the right track with content development and link building.

    BTW a graphical redesign is very well NOT necessary for better rankings, but as you recognize it could help with conversions for the folkjs who do reach your website.

    Comments on this post

    • abilitydesigns agrees
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    Maybe you have done this already, you haven't mentioned if you have or not.

    Before you do anything you need to know why your conversion is dropping and what the barriers are.

    Do you have a full tracking system in place? Can you follow people from their point and method of entry (i.e. from referal, search engines, the keyword terms they arrive on) their path through the site and exit points? Which terms lead to most sales, which the least? What times of day and month do people come and what do they do?

    Put up questionairres for people to answer so you can find out why people have come to your site, take feedback on what works well for them, what doesn't work well and what they would like to see added to the site.

    It's vitally important to gain full insight into what the problems are before making a plan to improve things, as you may find you are investing time and money in fixing things that aren't broken and are neglecting the real areas of concern on your site as far as your users are concerned.
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    Conversion rate drop-off seems to be your largest concern. I would go for the quick on-page fixes that you have direct control over and then go after the longer term SEO issues.

    If your site is not as "professional" looking as your competitors then go for a quick re-design fix, even if you need to hire out the job. I would keep page names and links as-is for now.

    Pay attention to marketing and sales conversion issues. There are lots of resources on the web for info on conversion rate, call to action, conversion funneling, etc.

    Use Google analytics to measure your page popularity, keywords and bounce rates.

    Remember that just because a competitor ranks higher does not mean they are more successful. Conversions, not traffic, puts money in your pocket.

    Ed
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    Thanks for your replys everyone.

    To answer a few questions that have been brought up in previous posts ...

    We currently use PhpMyVisits to track visitors and other web statistics. I don't however have a good complimentary Conversion rate analysis package ... can anyone recommend one?

    For us, I think the biggest barrier that is negatively affecting our conversion rate is our web site look, layout and navigation. The web site looks like it could have come out of the 70s while the layout and navigation are not intuitive. My thought is that you would be more likely to purchase a good product from a professional looking and knowledgable sales person then you would from one with poor hygiene and limited knowledge.

    In addition, the current web site doesn't give the user enough opporunities to follow their thoughts/feelings etc. What I mean by that is that if a user visits our site, we need to provide them with easy access to:

    - gain further information
    - our contact info
    - our ordering/sample request system
    - verify security and credibility
    - search
    - etc.

    To touch on a point brought up by channel5 ... do questionairres really work? I really don't know but I find it interesting. I personally skip past these but perhaps users could be enticed to fill one out? Discount or some other approach? At what point would you ask a user to fill in a survey?
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    Originally Posted by olimess
    I don't however have a good complimentary Conversion rate analysis package ... can anyone recommend one?
    Google analytics can show conversion data provided you have set conversion goals, although I have not tried to set conversion targets. But it is free and i think easy to use.

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