Legacy URL Support

It has come to my attention, through the process of gaining many rescue projects for SteadyRain from other developers in the region, that there is a huge failure occurring in the development community. This is drastically affecting client outcomes post redesign and relaunch of a website. Setting this very specific scenario may seem like an attempt to raise a red flag about a very small portion of a developer’s and integrator’s business, but in reality developers are spending the majority of their time redeveloping websites. These clients that arrive have a live website already and, most likely, have spent some time and money on search engine optimization (SEO).

For most firms, including SteadyRain, the goal is to create a website that better connects with an organization’s audiences. This website needs to do a better job of identifying and enticing decision makers to engage with more compelling calls-to-action that drives those decision makers to easier-to-use and more effective conversion tools. Thus, resulting in a greater number of conversions, which those conversions can include leads, sales, or donations to the organization. Simply, these are the results that most every client requires and the basis of the strategies we devise.

All of the above goals take into consideration that a client already has some kind of solution in place—a live website that, at some point in time, had some if not all of the same goals. Often a website already exists at the same URL where the new site will be launched. This website may have:

·         Been exposed to search engines
·         Indexed by search engines
·         Visited by search robots
·         Gained placement in organic search engines
·         Promotional URLs
·         Shortcut URLs
·         Been bookmarked or added to  favorites
·         Set as web browser’s preferred home page
There are already a tremendous number of URLs in and around the Internet that point to this organization’s current site. And all of those URLs have gained authority with the search engines and are being placed within organic search results within search engines. This authority, at whatever degree the URLs have been actively search marketed, have value for the organization and its Internet strategy. This value must be taken into consideration during a site relaunch or at least be discussed with a client who has the choice of deciding that value based on factual information provided by their developer. 
It is critical to understand that your industry is already too competitive to disregard current search placement during a site redesign. Legacy URL support is not an option, but instead it should be part of every Internet strategy for every website of any size. These URLs and the authority, which they have gained within the search engines is the currency of search marketing. Just as you wouldn’t dismiss the value of your company’s brand, its employees, its innovative products or specialized services, you should not dismiss the value of your existing website URLs.
If the search engines have already re-indexed your content and have not found those legacy URLs within the new site, then they may have already been removed from placement in organic search results.
If you are currently working with a developer who has not mentioned this. Bring it up immediately. Assume that they have not included this “value-added” service within the budget that they’ve provided and expect them to be unsure how to solve it for you. Trust that “just adding some redirects” is not necessarily the correct answer.
Legacy URLs have to be created and maintained in a very specific way to be search friendly and to ensure that having them in place passes on the authority they have to the new URLs within your new site. Consider the importance of being able to manage these URLs moving forward, much in the same way you should be managing your content within a content management system. You do not want to be reduced to having to send email requests for additions to the legacy URL list when you need to.
It could mean the difference between making a smooth transition from old site to new site instead of, in one grand motion, destroying any search engine optimization efforts you have undertaken strategy-to-date and creating confusion for your audience. 
SteadyRain has a solution for legacy URLs and so should your current developer. If they don’t, please feel free to give SteadyRain a call.

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