Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Things To Consider When Changing Hosting Companies

WOW! It has been a long time since I've posted. Sure I've sent newsletters, Facebook post, and even a Tweet here and there but my poor ole' blog has been neglected due to a super busy 2010 and a refreshing 2011 thus far.

So I wanted to take some time to address a question that I keep getting about what to do and what to expect when you want to change from you current hosting company to a new one.

Will switching effect your current keyword ranking, what should you expect to happen when you change hosting company as far as SEO is concerned and how long will it all of this take.

Below are some tips that you can use to smooth over your transition.

For starters before you switch over to any hosting company, please make sure that the company you are switching to is SEO friendly!! I know that's an entirely different post but it is very important to make sure the hosting company you are considering switching over to is SEO friendly.

Some features that you want to look for is the option to add individual meta tags to each of your pages, categories, sub categories and products. There's nothing more annoying than working on a site that only allows you add meta tags to your home page. Then find out that every single page has the very same meta tag. If you have the same meta tags on every single page, how in the world are the search engines supposed to know which page is relevant to a search query?

Next, it's also helpful to go with a hosting company that has search engine friendly urls, ones that list your keywords in the url.

Here is an example of a search engine friendly url:

Here is an example of a not so friendly url:

Although you can still rank for your pages if your keywords are not in the url, it still gives an extra added bonus to have search engine friendly url's.

Those are just a couple of features to look out for when choosing a hosting company for your site. I'll make sure to do a blog post next week on what features you should consider when choosing a hosting company.

Now back to some tips you can take to make your switch a stress free one:

Tip 1: Before you switch your hosting company, take some time to copy and paste the url's of your main pages, important pages, pages that are ranking high in the search engines and any on page content that is currently on your site and add all your information into a word document or excel sheet and save it.

Once you have saved all of the work on your site just copy and paste it into your new pages,categories, subcategories. The reason being, is so you can redirect your old pages to your new pages. That way your site is not returning a bunch of unwanted and unneeded 404 Page Not Found messages in the search engines. Too many of those can effect your ranking, because the search engines think that your site no longer exist or is not being maintained which brings down the quality of their search engine results. No search engine wants to send their searchers to websites that are returning blank pages, or websites that are constantly giving a Page Not Found message. So you want to make sure you take care of those redirects as soon as possible. As a matter of fact, make this your number 1 thing on your to do list once you have your new site set up.

Copy your url's to your main categories that are currently listed on your site.
Set up your new categories with your new hosting company. Then create 301 redirects from your old categories to your new categories. You can usually do this via your cpanel depending on which hosting company you switch to.

Tip 2: Make sure you have copied your meta tag information from each of your old pages as well if they have been properly optimized. If not, simply do some much needed keyword research and enter in your keywords into your meta tags and copy them to all of your new page that you have set up with your new hosting company.

Tip 3: Once you've done your meta tags, 301 redirects and you have all of your pages/products added to your new hosting company site. Create a new sitemap and submit it to the major search engines. This will allow you to let the search engines know about your new urls/website pages.

You can create a free sitemap at the following link. This site will create up to 500 pages for free:

When you switch hosting companies you should expect to start to get broken links and 404 error messages. You can usually see these in your cpanel traffic stats information or in your Google Webmaster Tools account, if you have one set up. If you do not have one set up yet, please make sure you set this up before you switch. Your webmaster tools account with Google, gives you all type of great information about your site as well as any crawl errors. They even allow you to remove those dreaded broken links/404 pages that are listed in your crawl error reports.

As your 404 error (Page Not Found) messages start to come in, start requesting a page removal via your Google Webmaster Tools account by clicking on Crawler Access and then Remove Page. Google is pretty fast with approving the request.

The number of 404 error pages you get will be determined based off of the number of pages you have in the search engines result pages. Just keep an eye on them and request removal as soon as you can. The quicker you address any broken links or pages that no longer are going to exist on your site the better.

Keep in mind that you may drop in ranking after switching to a new hosting company but the drop should be temporary and you should be able to return back to your normal ranking position. To offset any drop in rankings, try to build some one way links to your site from high quality websites while you are waiting for the search engines to update their search engine directory with your new website pages. As the search engines are updating their directory with your new website pages, they may redirect your traffic to your home page. This redirect may be temporary.

So if you are considering moving your site to a new hosting company make sure you follow some of the tips above and do some research on other tips and suggestions that you can use when change hosting companies. If you are not familiar with creating redirects, requesting url removal make sure to consult with a SEO specialist, website designer, the new hosting company etc.. Any website professional should be able to assist you with making your switch as stress free as possible.

I hope you enjoyed my tips as much as I have enjoyed giving them to you! Stay tuned for the next tip coming soon.

Carla Phillips