Top 10 SEO Steps When Converting a Website

The top 10 SEO steps when converting a website to WordPressZellous.org recently received a request from a local business to transfer their site from Joomla to a WordPress CMS platform.  They were not satisfied with the SEO abilities of Joomla as well as its frequent security breeches and patches. The site had been active for several years with many of its pages frequently visited, probably bookmarked. Their main concern was that these business connections would be lost and their Search Engine Results Page(s) (SERP) would be adversely affected. They wanted to avoid losing their rankings and organic search traffic.

Their concerns were well founded. Many website owners usually do not think of SEO when transferring a website. It is all too common for businesses to lose their hard earned rankings when making changes to either a new server, CMS platform, or both. From our experience with this endeavour we decided to share our:

“Top 10 SEO Steps When Converting a Website to WordPress”

… to help others avoid costly mistakes. Mistakes could just as easily be made while moving from WordPress to another platform, but either way, the risks of slowing down the flow of attention to ones site and breaking connections are high.

Through this process we came to realize just how important it is to keep this in heart and mind:  Concentrate on serving the user. This will align your goals with the best of intentioned search engines.

This is the key priority and we believe is the deciding factor in making SEO work. The only other part of this equation is a resulting “conversion” to use a pop marketing term. We prefer the word “service”, which comes in many forms.

When SEO is created with a genuine sense of service along with ones eye to the bottom line this foundation will support the businesses growth and evolution. From a Sustainable SEO Design Perspective you save your energy and do not reinvent the wheel every time Google or Bing makes a change in its methods. Ryan Jones, a respected SEO consultant in this field sums this up perfectly:

[quote ]Back when I got started in SEO the focus was all about trying to reverse-engineer the algorithm and try to rank better …. Nowadays Google makes over 500 algorithm changes per year. It’s simply not possible to reverse engineer that type of algorithm. In other words, chasing the algorithm isn’t sustainable.

SEOs today try to optimize for Google without realizing that Google is trying to optimize for the web searcher.

Here’s a good example: Asking “how can I rank for term ___” is the wrong approach. Instead, ask “What does somebody searching for term ___ want?” Then, go build that site. That’s a sustainable approach that will continue to reward you regardless of what algorithm tweaks Google makes. That’s what our focus should be on. Concentrate on the user and try to get your goals to align with Google’s goals. Pay attention to the reasons behind what Google is doing and chase that. In other words, be proactive not reactive.[/quote]

Why SEO Matters

To start with, here are a few statistics that might grab your attention:

1. Email and Search are the Internets top two activities.

Aside from having compelling content, 1) finding your business (searchability) and 2) having a vehicle for contacting you (email) are the two critical components of a successful marketing campaign. It is generally estimated that 72% of business purchase decisions start with using a search engine with Google owning 65-70% of that search engine market share. Of US Internet users ages 14 or above, 88.2% will research or browse products online first before going further. MarketingCharts reports that over 39% of customers come from search.

2. Using a mobile device will soon increase to half of all local searches.

Out of the 30 billion mobile searches a year, 12 billion are local. Besides underlining the importance of having ones website mobile ready, it also suggests that any relevant content one would be looking for should be conveniently located above the fold. This is because 77% of mobile search happens at home or work via a smart phone, even though a computer may be nearby. It is now far easier to search through ones phone then awaken ones desktop and bring up the right screen. Therefore it is not surprising that 46% of mobile web users are unlikely to return or recommend to anyone else, a website they had trouble accessing from their mobile device. Of those that stay, these SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate compared to 1.7% for the traditional printed or mail ads.

3. To sum things up, SEO matters because it enables connection.

But connection is only half of the process. SEO must easily lead to useful content. So while one is juggling all of their fresh content creation, social media connecting, and follow-ups, add one more thing to juggle, SEO. These statistics are striking evidence that SEO is necessary for growing your business and therefore important enough to preserve while transferring or converting your website to a new server and or platform.

[quote ]SEO is just another form of online marketing, alongside content marketing, social media marketing, pay-per-click (PPC), online banner ads, retargeting and more. All of those elements make up the whole puzzle; SEO is just one piece. It’s important to remember that just because you are doing SEO that doesn’t mean you can forgo all your other marketing efforts, both online and offline. The more touch points you can create with your audience the better. ~ Nick Stamoulis[/quote]

A Smart Checklist for Website Redesign

For SEO do-it-yourselfers, we have prepared a list of some of the most important tasks to perform throughout this process. For SEO non-do-you-it-yourselfers we encourage you to contact us for assistance, consultation, or whatever needs you have about your website.

SEO varies from site to site, but essentially without certain checkpoints completed, you might risk losing your search engine rankings, traffic, and momentum.

Pre Step: Data Collection and Discovery: Crawl on All Fours

  1. Internal Links: Generally, links are considered either “external” or “internal” depending on their target. An internal link is one that points at another section of the same webpage or domain. Crawling for Internal links will give knowledge of ones taxonomy, or the way the website’s links are structured and connected.
  2. Incoming Links (or backlinks): Are your websites links received from another website (or node) and is one indication of the popularity or importance of some specific content. Knowledge of these is necessary in order to maintain page ranking or for suggesting marketing directives. It provides a list of your Top Pages, those that are linked to the most.
  3. Linked Root Domains: Like incoming links and slightly more important in regard to page rank, this metric indicates the number of unique root domains linking to your site. (Note: two or more links from the same website are counted as one linked root domain).
  4. Page Authority: Is the metric for how well your webpage is likely to rank in Google’s search results. Based on all of the information covered in this article and other parameters, an algorithm is used to predictively calculate your site’s rankings across thousands of other sites like your own. Page authority is related to the pages within sites, not the site itself.

These four points help establish your starting point and is a snapshot of your website at one moment in time, results will vary depending on sampling time. Within this data will also be errors of missing pages, blocked URL’s, and unexpected data. There will also be other things worth checking such as speed and sustainability metrics, however, since the site is being moved these results usually just provide a before and after comparison.

Preliminary Key Questions:

  • What is going to change during this transition internally and externally? Will the URL’s, functionality, server, information architecture, visual design, meta, connections, and content change?
  • When I run an analysis on my site, how should I interpret the data? Click here for list of third party services.
  • How will marketing be affected? How will these changes affect organic search traffic, sign-up, and conversion?

To this last question, a marketer should pay special attention. This article doesn’t delve into quality of  branding and its placement, but consideration to how your product or service is perceived is relevant to the crafting of  keyword maps.

The content is not just adapting to its new online environment but to its compatibility with the customer. Taking a fresh look at the “real” destination of your image and content is important. For more viewpoints on customizing content to us multiple intelligent humans we will be posting a new article soon. Stay in touch and subscribe.Subscribe to Zellous.org Newsletter

“Searching in Another Person’s Shoes – Understanding Customer Personas in SEO Development”

Keyword-Dating WordPress SEOKeyword Dating

One way to describe the purpose of keyword mapping is to envision your website as a potential partner for someone who has just gone on Match.com searching for someone like you.

Match.com has four simple steps to get someone ignited:

1)  Your Profile    2)  Searching    3)  Getting Matches    4)  Connecting

“Your Profile” represents the goods and services you offer, your reputation, character, presentation, your goods … all of the ways you identify your business form the “Chemistry Profile”. This is what someone experiences with you on a deeper personal level. Inversely, the same is true with the other person in this profile equation. Their needs are not necessarily identical but center around certain similar compatibility traits.

“Searching,” relates to your profile distilled down to a carefully selected set of keywords, images, and benefits. Besides destiny or word-of-mouth, these are the search elements that will hook your match … as long as you are open and these elements are well employed.

“Getting Matches” is when your SEO works and the person finds enough compatibility with you, along with a certain …. Je ne sais quoi, to want to go further – with the second date being NOW!

“Connecting” is the moment you have been waiting for, whereby, attention is engaged, chemistry right, and your conversion points are being clicked. You are the answer to their needs and apparently they are the answer to yours.  Everyone is happy and satisfied.

So ideally, in the romantic world of SEO, how does this analogy apply?

Step One: Profiles

Create a keyword map through research with the customer’s psychographic profile in mind, your own site, and the sites of others who are similar to your site. This need not involve a Ouija board, rather consult:

  • Analytics
  • Search Engine Tools
  • Competitive Keywords
  • Keyword Surveys
  • Google Autocomplete
  • Social Trends
  • Click here for a great list of marketing/SEO resources.

Step One Key Questions:

  • What do all of the profiles that I now examine have in common, or how are they  dissimilar, and why?
  • What hybrid profile best represents my customers and me?

Step Two: The Searching Paths

“SEO is an intelligible sphere whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.” – adapted from Alain de Lille, (my apologies)

Process: With the data, analysis, and conclusions that you have discovered through the pre-step: Data Collection and Discovery, the next step is to develop:

  • a redirect strategy – Download a free 301 redirect mapping schedule spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel here or a Mac Numbers version here. As a rule of thumb, redirect the most relevant content from the old site to similar content in the new. Don’t do a blanket redirect of all of the old links to the new home page. Re-enact the role of the typical user looking for content from the originating link. You would not want your keywords to suggest content that they could not find once they get to know you better.
  • new relevant content

Along With

  • the profile knowledge you have just gained from Step One: Profile.

Overview: This step achieves several purposes at once and is contiguous with the next few steps. You are preserving and expanding the existing paths that others have travelled to find you while developing new paths to your improved content. You are looking at the whole web of paths you already have going for you and seeing how they touch your community and extend through your website. You are also laying down the foundation for new content and the paths to it.

Step Two Key Questions and Resources: