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Replacing existing site on Go Daddy AND preserve SEO standing


#1

I thought I'd share this dialog I had today with webflow support to benefit others who are facing this challenge:

My challenge:

Well I am getting real close to publishing my website. I have to admit this part of the process seems intimidating. Go Daddy hosts my current company website and has since 2006. The website I have created using Webflow is intended to replace that outdated site. FYI - the old site has very strong organic SERP standing (typically the first or second selection) with Google for the vast majority of search terms business owners in Georgia (metro-Atlanta) would type when looking for consulting help. I have worked hard to earn this and don't want to do anything stupid to harm that standing. Here is my question: (1) Are there things I should know and do prior to publishing? (2) Do you have any tutorials or steps written that will guide me through the entire process of replacing an existing website on Go Daddy?

The replacement site public link here

Here is the response I rec'd from Vlad at webflow:

*Since you're replacing an old site with an old URL structure (e.g. you have .html file extensions on all your URLs, which Webflow published sites don't have), I would strongly recommend exporting your site instead, and moving the exported code carefully to replace the existing site page-by-page.

For example, if you go to http://www.allegroconsultant.com/Company_Growth.html on your current page, Webflow will publish that as http://www.allegroconsultant.com/Company_Growth, which Google doesn't see as the same URL. If you export, however, Webflow will generate Company_Growth.html for you (make sure that your "URL" setting on each page in webflow matches your other URL exactly), and then you can replace the old version of that page with the new Webflow version.

Just to be clear, if you want to preserve your SEO standing, your only option is to export the code on Webflow, keep using GoDaddy as the web host, and replace the old site files with the new Webflow exported version.
A few things I would make sure to do:
1. Create a backup of your entire site on GoDaddy, just in case you need to roll back
2. Make sure your site is registered with https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/home?hl=en
3. When copying over the Webflow version of the site, make sure to copy all the files, including the CSS, JavaScript, and HTML files
4. If you have any Webflow-powered forms on your site, make sure to not delete the Webflow project - otherwise form submissions will stop working

You can also reach out on our forum and see if folks in the community are willing to help, and let me know if you have any further questions that come up.
Cheers,
Vlad*


#2

Has anyone in the webflow community replaced an existing Go Daddy hosted website with a new webflow created site?


#3

@UrMarkGetSetGo - one quick question - how comfortable are you with your FTP client? Do you have all the information needed to make changes to your GoDaddy site and upload new files?


#4

Yes - fairly comfortable with FTP client. Use that and file manager to make regular changes to the old site - adding "News" updates, etc....


#5

Found this good article that reinforces what Vlad shared How to Preserve your Search Engine Footprint

Question: Everyone is emphasizing replacing with "exact URL". Well my URLs uses caps and underscores versus dashes . Webflow won't allow caps or underscores when naming the URL, will this make a difference?


#6

Webflow does allow underscores when entering your URL.

Though you are correct that Webflow doesn't allow caps in the URL. This will actually make a difference. We'll look into this limitation and see if we can make it more flexible.


#7

Thanks for bringing in the underscore capability.

So you are saying that Google does interpret a difference between "Company_Growth.html" and "company_growth.html" in a URL?

UPDATE: I just found this response to a similar question on a different site:

If your website is hosted on a case-sensitive OS (like Linux - Go Daddy uses Linux) then Google will need to re-index those pages for your site to work. The old (mixed case) url would result in a 404 not found. You would need to set up 301 redirects to prevent your site from breaking and inform the search engines of the change. The same as if your page had moved to an entirely different URL.

If your OS is not case-sensitive then both URLs will work. The URLs in Google index will return a 200 (OK) as before, so as far as Google is concerned, nothing has changed. If you change all your links (as presumably you would) then maybe Google will pick up the change in URL over time, but maybe not - but neither would it really matter.

Should you change to lowercase URLs when your server is case-insensitive?
URLs are commonly all lowercase in order to avoid confusion and user error in a case-sensitive environment. If your server is not case-sensitive then it doesn't really matter from a users perspective. For consistency you might consider changing to lowercase, but it's really your decision. If there is ever a chance in the future that your site will be moved to a case-sensitive environment then changing to all lowercase now would perhaps be a good move.

It should be noted that, according to the spec, URLs should be compared in a case-sensitive manner (regardless of what your server is currently doing). Various analytics software (Google Analytics included) see URLs in a case-sensitive manner (by default). So, whilst your system might not be case-sensitive, other systems you interface with might be.


#8