After spending time and money (and blood, sweat and tears) building up traffic to your category pages, you might be hesitant about making any changes that would sabotage your SEO value.
If you are considering a new navigation solution, but concerned about losing traffic to your category pages, there are a few things you can do before moving to the new solution that will help preserve the SEO effort you’ve put into these pages.
Read on for some common SEO concerns we’ve heard and the tips we’ve followed and tested to make sure SEO value is preserved when moving to a new category page solution.
Set up redirects and preserve page authority
SEOs and Google Webmaster Trends Analysts agree that one of the most important things you can do is set up permanent redirects from your old category URLs to the new category URLs. When done correctly, this is a great way to preserve page authority and pass it on to the new page. Make sure that these redirects remain active for at least a few months after the solution is live.
Clean up old URLs so they are de-indexed by search engines
There might be a few old category pages that you do not want to redirect. Some of these pages might just not be valuable enough or maybe they are pages created from refinements such as sort order and pagination. If these ended up indexed, and you do not want to redirect them to a new page, you should make sure these are de-indexed.
Manage bot access so the correct pages get crawled and indexed
While implementing the new navigation solution, you want to make sure that the new navigation pages are not accidentally indexed. Avoid this by configuring the robots.txt file accordingly and then updating again after going live.
Get picky with the categories you index
It isn’t a good idea, or even necessary, to index any and all refinements that you are including on your category pages. For example, if you sell furniture on your site, you might want to index category brand, but not price range. While moving to your new category page solution, keep in mind that every refinement you allow to be indexed, basically multiplies the amount of indexable pages.
Double check canonical tags
This is also a great opportunity to double check that you have the appropriate canonical tags set up. In particular, you should check that proper canonicalization is in place for URLs and pagination in order to avoid the indexation of duplicate content. Click here to learn more about the canonicalization of pagination.
Migrate or add rich content
If you included rich content such as banners and descriptions on your old category pages, make sure this content is migrated over to your new pages. This is also important for maintaining SEO value. If your category pages were content deficient, take this opportunity to do it right and consider adding banners, rating information, reviews and relevant product descriptions.
Choose a solution that gives you SEO control
Having control of the SEO as much as possible on your new category pages is crucial. With SLI Systems Learning Navigation®, you are able to decide which pages are indexable, which can help you avoid spamming Google with duplicate content. You are also able to access an easy-to-use interface where you can customize the URLs, titles, descriptions and meta tags for these pages.
Good quality SEO on category pages is valuable because it drives organic traffic to your site and provides a crawl path to your product pages. When your transition to a new system is handled correctly, the right navigation solution will not only preserve the SEO value you’ve already built, but will continuously improve the SEO value of your category pages long into the future.
To learn more about SLI Learning Navigation®, click here.