How to Preserve Your Site Rankings if You Convert to WordPress

Several years ago, before WordPress was a mainstream content management option, I used an HTML authoring program called NetObjects Fusion to create my websites.  NetObjects was and is a great tool for creating websites – I find it much easier to use than Dreamweaver and it is much more robust and full featured than many of the free web page editors on the market.

NetObjects also has the advantage of not being widely used in the United States, although it has a large user base in Germany.  This means that there are a large number of themes out there for designers.

As good as NetObjects has been, however, it is not a web based solution.  Over the past few years, most web designers have moved to web based content management software like WordPress, Joomla or Drupal.  WordPress, in particular, has evolved into a very robust solution that is accessible to non-techies and techies alike.

Earlier this year I decided to port one of my NetObjects sites into WordPress.  This particular site had ranked very highly for a number of highly competitive terms in the consumer legal services market.   For several years, my site held top position even though it was, quite frankly, somewhat ugly.  I decided to refresh the site and move the content into WordPress so I could more easily edit it and not be tied to my office computer.

Within a few weeks after moving the site, my rankings tanked.  I assumed, wrongly, that because my new site had even more and better content, as well as videos and all the latest schema and Google + integration that all would be well.   Instead, Google saw about 150 well established pages disappear from view.  I realized that I had failed to set up what is called a “redirect” – in which I signal to the search engines that references to an old page should be immediately and permanently redirected to a new one.  WordPress has a very simple solution – a plug-in called Simple 301 redirect.

Now that the redirect is working, my site is coming back but it will take some time.  Here is a brief video showing how the 301 redirect works and how to perform this function using Google’s webmaster tools.

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