A client with a truly heinous tables-based website from 2005 recently came to our team for a rebuild and rebrand. My recommendation? Step. Away. From. The. Site. Change. Almost. Nothing.
This website had great SEO in their industry and geographic area. And they should, they are a true legacy, pre-paid placement site. The value of a legacy site with SEO traction cant be overestimated. These sites date from the early days of the internet when search engines were desperate for relevant content. They gained firm traction early and it stuck. They dont need to play the game, pay for ads, and over-optimize. Their reputation is already built.
Organic search results have changed fundamentally over the past decade. In a nutshell, google used to be invested in finding the best result, now they are invested in making money. True organic search result successes are more and more rare. Paid placements not only get your link seen, advertising also drives traffic in order to affect “organic” search results. That is today’s norm.
For this client we ultimately did a surgical upgrade, carefully preserving the HTML of pages with important levels of traffic intact, while adding new pages to their sitemap in a modernized format. We also rebuilt their checkout for critical security reasons. The new sections ofcourse are fully accessible and mobile friendly, and slowly gaining ground with search engines. But the old pages are still the most important funnels for organic site traffic. A standard rebuild – or even worse, a content re-calibration – would have killed their legacy value for good.
So do you have a legacy site? Is it hideous? Wish your homepage had a flashy slideshow like your neighbor? Chances are your neighbor would give a thousand slideshows for your SEO value. Step. Away. From. The. Website. !