Is It Time to Push the Reset Button on Your Business Website?

Randy Milanovic
Randy Milanovic Principal & Author, Kayak Online Marketing

Posted on January 3rd 2014

Is It Time to Push the Reset Button on Your Business Website?

With a fresh new year to work with, a lot of you will be thinking about making fresh starts in other parts of your life. Perhaps it's time for a fresh relationship, a fresh set of career goals, or perhaps even a brand-new website on a fresh domain?

time to push the reset button?

If that sounds almost sacrilegious, I certainly understand. Since the dawn of the SEO age (AKA the last few years or so), conventional wisdom has been that you always keep building up the website you already have. That's because the effects of adding content are generally cumulative, and Google prefers older, more established websites over newer ones that might not be as trustworthy.

That's all true, and worth keeping in mind. However, the opposite can also be true:

Some business websites have become so burned by outdated or black hat SEO tactics that virtually no amount of goodwill is ever going to bring them back up towards the top of the search engine rankings.

Some of you who are reading this – and you know who you are – have put their trust in the wrong web designers or SEO consultants, and unknowingly (I'm assuming) engaged in black hat tactics. If you fall into that category, the latest Hummingbird algorithm update probably rapped you on the knuckles pretty hard.

So, should you consider starting fresh and pushing that reset button?

That's a judgment call, but if the damage from past SEO efforts is so bad that your search traffic has dropped out of sight, Google won't index any of your new pages, there are dozens of pages of eerily similar content on your website, and/or you have countless low-quality links pointing at your domain, then rebuilding from the ground up might be your wisest option.

I recommend that you have an online marketing professional review your existing website before taking this step, but if you decide to take the plunge, here's how to get up and running again quickly:

1. Choose the right domain name.

Obviously, domains are a big decision, but don't fall for the trap of simply selecting the easiest keyword match. Those can be good domains (if you can even get them), but you also want one that's easy for potential customers to remember, and one that accurately reflects what your business is all about. Tip: Incorporate your name into your URL.

2. Pursue a smart content strategy.

In most situations, you are not going to earn a top Google ranking in a few weeks. But, you don't necessarily have to wait a year before search engines will start paying attention to your site, either. The best way to speed things up is to regularly publish relevant, unique articles and posts with only minimal attention paid to SEO details and then ENGAGE in social discussions around them. In other words, publish content for customers rather than search engines, because you really should be.

3. Learn from past mistakes.

As frustrating as it might be to rebuild your web presence, think about how awful you'd feel if you had to start it all over again next year. The point is to think about how hiring bargain-basement SEO consultants, or looking for quick fixes to your online marketing problems, led you to a place where you are willing to burn down your website and start over again. Avoid repeating the same mistakes and you should be fine.

It isn’t easy to decide to throw out what you've done the past and begin anew with a brand-new website and domain name. But, contrary to conventional wisdom, that can sometimes be your most cost-effective option, and ironically enough, can be the quickest way back to a positive online presence that generates new leads for your business.

Just be sure that you put a priority on getting there the right way, or you might be facing the same dilemma all over again next year.

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By Randy Milanovic

Randy Milanovic

Randy Milanovic

Principal & Author, Kayak Online Marketing

Randy is author of 2 books: Findability: Why Search Engine Optimization is Dying + 21 New Rules of Content Marketing, and Building a Better Business Website. He is the Prinicipal of Kayak Online Marketing, a leading Canadian inbound marketing firm.

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Comments

hailley
Posted on January 3rd 2014 at 9:54AM

This is great advice, Randy! As someone that works in social media resetting the whole website isn't something I'd consider but from an SEO standpoint it makes perfect sense! The second point you make is also very important, writing content for the audience rather than Google. Both Google and Facebook have been clear in their expectations that content should please the audience first. One of the most effective ways to do this is to  incorporate storytelling as much as possible, everyone loves a good story and it's sure to help your accounts in the long run! 

Randy Milanovic
Posted on January 3rd 2014 at 10:55AM

as long as it is 2-way. Open dialogues. Open opportunities. 

Randy Milanovic
Posted on January 3rd 2014 at 10:54AM

Based on comments in social, I'll add...

We've "reset" a number of sites. The time needed to climb back up has been 3-6 months. 

Making the reset call has everything to do with what the problem areas are.

If the issue is countless spam links, there's a chance a massive action with the disavow tool will correct it. Plus, earn/build some better quality links. For example, about.me enjoys an amazingly high quality link value. 

If it's a slew of duplicate content pages, dump them and 301 redirect each to a better page. Never just delete them or change their address. 

If it is thin content, consider rewriting those pages... bulk them up with better quality content. 

If it is all of the above, it becomes a weighing of options/cost.

Google doesn't always forgive sites if they don't take their warnings to heart. When you disavow, you're best to do it with gusto.

Writing new content for 500 or 1000 pages is going to cost. A lot. 

301 Redirecting is fairly simple, just be sure the new pages they point to are high quality.

Ultimately, a proper business website mirrors real life, with real customers (think personas), real sales processes (think funnel) and valued products or services.

Any time we can think about people before tech, the better off a site will be. 

If you haven't already, please download my EMA toolkit, contains 3 spreadsheets that help marketers get these things in order. 

http://kayakonlinemarketing.com/ema-toolkit/


-- please excuse any typos. Typed on my iPhone.