The EdenWeb homepage has been updated with a new top banner and an updated value proposition. I’ve also added a new Company and Design Services page which I’ll be updating over time (some services are not yet listed). Interestingly enough, the ‘holding page’ we had for several months (even a year) hasn’t really had a huge effect on new work coming in. My biggest regret to scrapping the old site is the obvious effect that removing all that content has had on certain Search Engine rankings.
In hindsight, if I was to do this again, I’d probably take the following approach instead of just replacing all content with a holding page…
- Keep outdated content online
The long term vaue of your search engine visbility may be more important than the relevance of your content!If your site has good Search Engine visibility, is ‘spidered’ successfully by Google and Co. and is bringing in decent volumes of tracffic then keep it live until you’re ready to do an intelligent modular update or a complete redesign. Furthermore, if you’ve got a good Page Rank then you’ll want a miminum disruption to the value of a good PR.Obviously, if that content in question is pricing or product information then you have to make your own call. In my case, the content ‘missing’ was more a lack of a current gallery, outdated date design services info and a new logo design and strapline that were all in the works.
- Add newer design work in the form of an updated gallery/portfolio
If you don’t have time to update descriptions of your design services, then at least update the actual design examples. In our case, our design services are obviously visual. People come to the site looking for visuals. Even if the design services page doesn’t have any information on Presentation , Icon and Diagram design, they’ll get the idea once they see the updated gallery.
- Start blogging
Instead of culling the News, add a blog to your site and keep people informed of company developments. It’s the easiest way to add relevant industry and company news to your site and a few montly updates can keep the site fresh while the main content is static.There’s a good PDF on the subject at Tom Raferty’s post on Business Benefits of Blogging
- Ask permission!
Add a newletter signup and start building your contact list. If you’re concerened that your site is out of date, can see passing traffic through your stats and want to at least catch some details, you will find that interested parties are only too happy to add themselves to your contact database.
This way, you can keep people informed of the new launch even inform them of your updates along the way.
- Rewire the site
Turn the navigation into PHP includes (is your hosting plan supports this). Keep the same navigation and the same links but do some rewiring here in anticiaption of all links and navigation items changing with the new design. PHP includes will allow you to rapidly update the site with newer navigation later on as multiple pages can be updated instantly. Introduce CSS into the pages (yes, my site was really that old!) so the overall changes to the look and feel are again easier (and quicker) to roll out.
- Start updating the content gradually and pushing it out live
Obvious enough. Even one page at a time can make a big difference. In our own case, I introduced some simple content changes that made a massive difference to the overall feedback we were getting and a jump in enquiries from the contact page.
- Rework the overall template and introduce a new homepage
Thats a whole different can of worms. Talk to a design expert :O)
So thats basically what I would do now instead of replacing everything with a holding page.
Apart from suffering a slip in visibility on search engines for key services, we didn’t do too badly. Each company is a different case and we had the benefit of most of our work being word of mouth/referrals. You may want to try the above approach or even try a blended approach (holding page and link to old site).
Whichever method you choose, I can recommend the blog, newsletter signup and newsletter/blog updates as the best way to keep your site current until you launch your new site.