Don’t Change Your Web Site Without Reading This First

During the last 3 months of 2005, I spoke with three separate companies that redesigned their Web sites. Unfortunately, the discussions were about the unintentional damage these companies did, rather than the pride they felt about the revamped sites.

Columns From: 12/1/2005 Modern Machine Shop, ,

During the last 3 months of 2005, I spoke with three separate companies that redesigned their Web sites. Unfortunately, the discussions were about the unintentional damage these companies did, rather than the pride they felt about the revamped sites.

When these companies performed their redesigns, they lost their positions in the search engines. This can be catastrophic for a business, especially one that has enjoyed the steady stream of traffic that higher placement offers. Longevity is one of the most treasured characteristics for sites in terms of where search engines place them. The longer a site has been online, the more stable it is seen as a business, and the higher it is rated in the SERPs (search engine return pages).

These companies disrupted their rankings by dramatically changing the architecture of their sites. By deviating from the structure that Google and other search engines have become familiar with, many of the documents and sections of the site were “lost.” In short, the search engines had to relearn so much of the sites’ layouts that they didn’t associate the sites with their previous relevance.

To avoid this problem, design your site’s architecture into sections that mimic your long-term, core business objectives. A stable architecture will allow you to add to or adjust the content of the site without altering its basic structure. For instance, if your shop performs machining, EDM, grinding and finishing for the aerospace, automotive and medical markets, then those should most likely be static areas of your site that you sustain long-term. If your site isn’t already in this condition, create those sections gradually (one at a time). Once the architecture is in place, a redesign should bear positive results.

Remember: there is a distinct difference between redesigning the aesthetic look of a site and changing its architecture/structure. Interestingly, the one that can cause the most damage is also the most important.

Job Shop Site Of The Month
Insaco is a Pennsylvania-based manufacturer specializing in machining hard and unusual materials such as ceramics. Its site (www.insaco.com) offers examples of the advantages of hard and alternative materials. Of particular interest is the Interactive Designer’s Guide to Hard Materials (www.insaco.com/MatPages/DesignGuide.asp), which allows users to enter properties and requirements to find suitable alternative materials for their parts. While the site won’t win any design awards, it won for content and for educating prospects effectively about Insaco’s capabilities.

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