Welcome to Affiliate Network Marketing!
|Web Site Design Changes That Kill
By Larisa Thomason
Monday, August 2, 2004; 4:00pm EST
Some Web site changes are great for promotion - in the
long term. But those same changes may also have an immediate
negative effect on promotion. Understand the impact before
you update your site and avoid these changes that kill!
Domain Name Change
Imagine if one day you decided to change your personal
name to something completely different. At the same moment,
your phone number, street, and email addresses all change
too. Your friends and family would have quite a hard time
getting in touch with you.
That's what happens when you change your site's domain
name. The inbound links from other site, search engines
and directories, and bookmarks will be broken. Search
engines and directories may remove your site from their
indices. Your customers may just assume you aren't in
business anymore and click away to the competition.
Even so, sometimes the change is worth the risk if:
You're still using the free Web address provided by your
ISP. That decreases the perceived credibility and trustworthiness
of your site.
Your domain name has been banned by search engines for
spamming. Always check the WayBack machine before you
purchase a name.
There are legal problems associated with the name. Maybe
you've inadvertently infringed on someone else's copyright
or your name has a bad connotation due to unrelated business
or political events.
Control the damage with a server redirect that automatically
sends visitors and spiders to the new site. Then expect
to spend some time educating your audience and reassuring
them that nothing has changed but your name.
Directory Structure Reorganization
Search engine algorithms consider a page's location within
a Web site when ranking that page. In general, pages closer
to the top of the site hierarchy are considered to be
more relevant and therefore rank higher.
Remember that when you first begin designing a site. But
don't assume that you should immediately move pages to
different folders or to the top level of your domain because
you want to increase the page's search engine rank.
Consider what could happen:
Broken backlinks: Links to your site from other Web sites
(backlinks) are an important promotional tool. Always
check your backlinks before moving pages.
Increased coding errors: Whenever you move a page within
the directory structure, make sure you aren't creating
broken links on your own site! Always use HTML Toolbox
to quickly search for broken internal links.
Slow search engine spiders: Unless you're using some sort
of paid inclusion program, it may be weeks or months before
your site gets reindexed. In the meantime, the links already
indexed will appear to be broken when searchers click
Aiming For The Cutting Edge
You don't have to immediately make changes just because
there's a new version of Flash, Java, or other interactive
media plug-in. Visitors are notoriously slow to upgrade
and exceedingly reluctant to download and install new
Even if you conscientiously update your browsers and plug-ins
as soon as the new versions are available, be sure to
test your designs in older versions.
Forgetting Old Browsers
Those same visitors who stubbornly refuse to install the
latest Flash plug-in may have a good reason: they're using
old computers and/or old browsers that don't support the
Sure, browsers are free, but computers aren't. Some people
hang on to dinosaurs like Netscape 4.7 because their old
machines run it better than Netscape 7.
Study your server logs to learn what browsers and browser
versions your visitors are using. Then decide what percentage
(if any) you're willing to ignore. Browser Photo can help
you determine what effect changes have on visitors. It
shows you actual screen shots of your Web page in 16 different
browser, browser versions, and operating system combinations.
Moving To A New Host
If you're using a virtual hosting account, moving to a
new Web host means more than just writing checks to a
new company. It means your site will have a whole new
Let's briefly review the most important steps involved
in requesting a Web page from your server:
A visitor either enters your domain name in the browser
address bar or clicks on a link in a search engine or
other Web site.
The browser asks the Domain Name Server (DNS) for the
IP address that matches "BubbasFineWines.com"
(or whatever your domain name is).
The DNS supplies the IP to the browser.
The browser locates the server with the matching IP address
and requests the page and its associated images and other
The visitor sees the page displayed on their screen.
Now the key in this process is the IP address. Once you
move your site to another server, it will have a different
IP address. Generally, it takes take several days for
all the domain name servers to update. During that transition
period, some visitors may get "file not found"
error messages and assume your site is no longer functioning.
Even worse, a search engine spider could crawl by the
old IP address, get the same error, and delete your site
from the search index! You could wait weeks or even months
for the spider to revisit and reindex your site at the
new IP address.
Always keep your site up and running at the old Web host
for a month or so when you change hosts. The extra money
involved in paying double hosting charges for a month
is well worth it. Especially when you consider that the
alternative is disappearing from the search engines for
an extended period!
Changing Image And File Names
You get a promotion boost when your file, image, and directory
names contain your targeted keywords, but the best time
to consider those names is before you post your site,
not after. The issues to consider here are much the same
as with a site reorganization:
Broken backlinks: When you change the name of a page,
all the links pointing to that page (both inside and outside
your site) will be broken until someone updates them to
link to the new page name.
Broken image links: Many search engines now include an
image search. If you're relying on that search aspect
to sell your professional photographs, then a file name
change will cause a disruption.
Coding errors on your pages: Always use HTML Toolbox to
test your pages for broken HREFs and image links. It's
easy to forget to update text links tucked inside page
content or a small image that's used throughout the site.
Refer to the Page Primer feature of Search Engine Power
Pack for more hints and help with search engine optimization.
Page Primer scans your page and alerts you to design and
coding techniques that could help or hurt search engine
promotion. It analyzes the keywords density of your pages
and advises if you've used your targeted keywords too
often or not often enough. The full suite of Power Pack
tools will guide you through the search engine optimization
process from your source code to page content to the submission
You'll avoid the changes that kill. Instead, Power Pack
will help you make change that sell your Web site to search
engines and human visitors.
Source of Article
The author of this article is Larisa Thomason, Senior
Web Analyst with NetMechanic, Inc. NetMechanic is an online
service specializing in html code checking, search engine
optimization and web site maintenance and promotion. For
more information visit http://www.netmechanic.com/.