First, I appreciate having the opportunity to ask questions in this forum and all those who answer. I believe that currently I understand as much about SEO as my cat.
My client has a few general informational html files (< 10) plus an ecommerce application that contains about 4000 pages of products according to a sitemap generator I used to get a sitemap to submit to the search engines.
I just completed a graphic make-over of this site and was planning to submit it to the major search engines because I thought it necessary. Turns out it might not be.
I thought it necessary because in doing searches from the top 5 engines using keywords related to her business (quilting) I couldn’t find her in any of them. So I thought to do that which I’ve read are the basics, i.e., add the site to my webmaster accounts, create and submit a sitemap, implement the robots.txt and ask the various engines to index. I assumed this would help since none of this has been done since her site was first launched several years ago.
I tell my client I’m going to do this and she’s a bit perplexed. She proceeds to tell me that her clients report they find her primarily by doing searches of products they’re looking to buy and her site comes up #1. Turns out she’s right.
I took 10 different product numbers in several different categories listed in her product database and searched these against the top 5 search engines and if her site isn’t #1 in each engine every time, it’s within the top 5 every time.
Is there any reason whatsoever to implement the “best practices for seo” for her site?
2-3 years ago I would definitely have said “yes”. More recently, if the site is getting good traffic for the keywords, I would probably not mess with it too much. Improving a title tag here, adding an H1 there, and improving the text on the page somewhere else is a good practice over time. But doing sitewide changes in seo could impact negatively, even if following the guidelines, as I have seen it happen pretty often lately.
Now that is not to say you should stop making a site better because you want to please google. If there is a problem, it may only be temporary as google reprocesses the changes, but I would be very careful if you are going to be changing the url structure or something major like that.
As long as you have put a 301 redirect from each old URL to the appropriate new URL, there’s no real harm in changing filenames - you might experience a slight temporary drop in rankings for those particular pages but it shouldn’t last long.
If you don’t put a 301 redirect on, so people going to aboutus.htm just get met with a 404 error page, that really will screw up your client’s search results, as Google will quickly lose interest and confident in a site that does this :injured:
Thanks. Unfortunately, this site is externally hosted and I don’t have access to IIS. For some reason I couldn’t get rel=canonical to work in the pages either. What I did was, e.g., renamed aboutus.htm, created a folder called aboutus.htm, then created a default.asp page for that folder that redirects the request to the new about-companyname.htm file.
Everything’s getting redirected properly but it’s not really like a true 301 redirect is it?
I didn’t touch the internal shopping cart url structure at all, btw, just the external ones that linked into it.
Even though you only have a few new pages, submitting a sitemap can’t hurt. On the other hand, as long as you have good internal links, the major search engines will probably find those pages very quickly even without a new sitemap.