Michael  Jenkins

Maintain SEO value while replatforming your website

E-Commerce websites inevitably require a change of platform at some point. Unfortunately, many business leaders forget to prioritise SEO in this process, sacrificing brand equity along the way.

SEO strategy for replatformingRegardless of whether a brand’s SEO practices are already at the highest level, or whether there is much more optimisation required, a replatform operation represents a highly sensitive period in which brand equity can either be improved, maintained or damaged.

Essentially, SEO should be a priority while replatforming from day one. Failure to include these kind of optimisation techniques at an early stage can lead to a loss in brand equity should errors occur.

Preliminary Considerations

Many online businesses already know that SEO is important to their brand marketing strategy. However there are many cases where certain aspects of SEO practices are overlooked, and these need to be addressed long before replatforming.

Timing - Seek relevant advice before development or implementation takes place. If SEO is prioritised to the same level as web design, then SEO specialists can work with developers as early as the wireframing phase of replatforming, ensuring an optimal outcome.

Outsourcing - Be wary of repurposing existing personnel for SEO planning and strategy unless they are a dedicated SEO resource already. Web developers and designers won’t necessarily have the required expertise in order to guarantee success.

Backlinks - Brand equity relies on a website’s authority, which in turn hinges upon the site having a well-established link base. Prior to performing a replatform, spend the time to undergo a thorough link base analysis and make sure it conforms to a best practice linking strategy.

Keywords - Many brands miss out on valuable long-tailed keywords by focusing too much on competitive, generic terms. Are specific product pages getting ranked on Google? They should be, and replatforming the website is a great opportunity to ensure this happens.

Maintaining SEO During a Replatform

The way that Google perceives a website before a replatform can be completely different to its perception after the new website goes live. There are many errors that could cause the search engine to decide the new website should appear much lower in search ranking results than its previous iteration.

There are several processes that can be implemented throughout the design and development phase to ensure search value, and therefore brand equity, is maintained after the new site launches. This mostly involves working hard to maintain specific link equity across the site’s entire URL structure, as well as avoiding critical errors like duplicate content and 404 issues.

Maintaining Link Equity

‘Link equity’ refers to the value of the interconnected structure of a website. This encompasses the way internal pages link to each other, but it also includes the layer of inbound backlinks from other authoritative websites.

As a replatforming process is executed, if the old linking structure had any errors, make sure these are rectified, and that the structure translates across to the new website accurately. Any changes to URLs will require a redirecting strategy to be implemented.

301 redirects allow webmasters to connect the dots when it comes to new URLs. This ensures that authority attributed to old pages is transferred to the new equivalents.

Avoiding Errors

Preserving link equity forms the majority of preserving SEO value during a replatform, but there are errors that can occur. 

Commonly, canonical errors and 404 errors are most likely to pop up as the new site is being created, particularly when content is being generated dynamically.

Dynamically driven content will sometimes cause pages with the same text to appear in multiple places across a domain. This is known as duplicate content and is to be avoided at all costs. Using canonical tags to indicate the original content and parse the duplicates is the best way to rectify duplicate content issues.

On the other hand, 404 errors will occur when pages are created on the website without a corresponding update on the site’s XML sitemap. 

Any data feed that automates the flow of content to the website should also have rules in place for generating canonical tags, as well as constantly keeping the sitemap updated.

After the Switch: What to Expect Post-Replatforming

Even the best websites will take a temporary hit on search engine ranking pages (SERPs) immediately after replatforming. This is because Google takes time to digest the new information that has been published online.

Businesses can expect a drop in rankings value for a few weeks, however they should bounce back to healthy levels within a month. If rankings don’t revive within this timeframe, it’s time to start investigating what went wrong.

Google Webmasters can be used to attempt to isolate any ‘crawlability’ issues on the new site. Have canonical rules been applied correctly? Are product feeds generating 404 errors? Has the URL structure been preserved with the right 301 redirects?

Once the issue has been identified, it can be rectified easily enough, although it will take someone with a keen eye for SEO to root them out.

At the end of the day, it’s important to include every element of good e-commerce website design and development in replatform planning. Keep SEO in mind from the outset and your brand’s visibility will benefit as a result.


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Michael  Jenkins Shout Web Strategy Michael Jenkins
Company: Shout Web Strategy
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As Founder and Director of Shout Web Strategy, Michael Jenkins is at the forefront of digital marketing. Since it's inception in 2009, Shout has built a strong reputation as one of Australia's leading strategic SEO agencies, assisting online businesses to formulate, implement and track successful marketing strategies Read Michael 's full bio

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