So you’ve just enhanced your presentation by redesigning your old vacation rental website.
You created a fresh new design with a better look and feel.
Great job on getting that completed!
But what if designing a new website cost you big?
Let’s say, $10,000 in lost income. Pretty steep, huh?
It could potentially cost even more for larger earning vacation rental businesses.
And I’m not referring to how much it costs to create a vacation rental website either.
I’m talking about how creating a new website can cause you to lose booking income by dropping your websites’ SEO visibility and keeping you pinned down!
Yes, it’s not uncommon for websites to drop a bit in traffic right after relaunching. If it happens, it’s often short lived.
If it isn’t, you may have an issue on your hands.
You should recognize any drastic changes in traffic if you’re using Google Analytics or this super simple website tracking tool I told you about.
At the end of this article, I’ll share one example of how fixing a big mistake and making incremental improvements increased a vacation rental owner’s traffic by 400% in just two months without paying for a single form of paid advertising.
If you’ve unknowingly made the same error, no worries! I’ll share with you how to fix it with the simplest tools.
For some who have already made this mistake- this could be the most valuable blog you’ll read all year.
If you’re thinking about redesigning your old website, using a new website software or even if you’ve already redesigned your site at any point, you need to know this!
Losing SEO Data
When building a new website, owners get so excited about starting fresh and creating something new, they overlook preserving the old.
If your site has been optimized or online for a while, there are likely website pages that are bringing people onto your site.
If you don’t update or transfer your SEO meta data to your new vacation rental website, your traffic and SEO rankings will tumble.
Be sure that you or your website developer transfers over all SEO meta tags/data.
While this is a big problem that can happen, the next one is arguably bigger and even more common.
To demonstrate the impact this next oversight can have on your vacation rental website traffic, I’ll tell you what happened to one owner specifically.
One of our clients in Asia has operated a boutique vacation rental business for years, and in those years, they’ve redesigned their website a few times.
The problem is that each time they redesigned their VR website, they used a new theme or website software.
When they launched each new site, they ended up killing their old links. Think of this as closing the door on website visitors. These old links are like live electric wires that have been cut off from your website.
When this happens, your website loses power that was once plugged in. First, this affects your SEO because you lost the connection and second, Google doesn’t like broken links because people who find and click on broken links will get a 404 error message.
Google doesn’t want their users to experience these type of issues, so they can penalize your site and hide these links.
When you’re designing your new website, keep your links the same so you don’t see a huge drop-off in traffic.
If you’ve decided to change your web links for usability of SEO purposes, you’ll need to reconnect the old links to the new ones.
Restoring that connection will almost immediately reactivate SEO power and traffic to your website.
How do you do that?
You’ll need to reconnect dead or broken links using what’s called a 301 redirect.
A 301 redirects tells your server to redirect people from your old link to the new one you’ve just changed it to.
If you’re using WordPress, you can fix these broken links without any server knowledge using a plugin called Redirection- a free WordPress plugin.
But now that your old website is no longer online, how can you identify what your old links were?
There are several SEO tools you can use, and I will share some of them here too. I’ll also share one of my favorite tools in an upcoming SEO post. Sign up for our free vacation rental marketing newsletter to get all the details.
Some of the more advanced SEO tools have a learning curve to them, and I want to keep this one as simple as possible.
There’s a very simple way to locate dead links to make it super simple to fix your site.
The Wayback Machine
The Wayback Machine is the Internet’s archive.
It stores the files of sites from “way back” in history.
If you’d like to have some fun and take a stroll down memory lane, you can see what VRBO looked like when it was created.
What you do is go to this link http://archive.org/web/ and type in your website address in the URL field. You’ll be able to pull up your website from any date it was recorded.
And just like magic, your old website should appear before you!
Once it has, click on the old menus and copy the old links.
Then, use the Redirection plugin to point the old links to the new ones.
Boom! You’ve now re-powered your website. But wait… there’s more!
You can also check your SEO title tags by hovering your mouse over any open tabs to see your old SEO data which you can restore by using the Yoast plugin for WordPress.
Now that you’ve fixed the broken links, and they’re pointing correctly, you’ll need to let Google know about it using Google’s URL submission tool.
But don’t stop with Google.
Submit your links using Bing’s submission tool.
By submitting the old links to search engines, you’re expediting the recovery process by jump-starting the connection with Google and Bing.
The search engine spiders will quickly follow the old link and know they’re leading somewhere new.
Now visitors will see the content they were intended to see rather than the 404 error message they were receiving before – and everyone’s happy!
Have a look at how this affected a fellow owner.
You can see from the chart below the site’s traffic over time. You’ll notice that the traffic was rather low and all of of sudden a 400% spike in traffic.
I followed the steps shared in this post and restored all broken links from all versions of the sites they developed.
I, then, restored any useful SEO data while further working on improving their SEO. What you see are results that were achieved within just 2 months.
Once you’ve achieved your goals – don’t stop! SEO and marketing can not be neglected. You have to make incremental changes to stay on top of your vacation rental marketing game.
Also be cautious in making changes to your site and using certain softwares. Do your research and always follow best practices to prevent a loss of traffic, exposure and income.
If your site doesn’t show up in the Wayback Machine or if you’d like an in-depth report, you can check the crawl errors in Google Search Console.
You can also use crawling tools able to report the 404s like Xenu’s Link Sleuth.
If your are using a WordPress website, you can install a Broken Link Checker plugin, and when in doubt, consult with a professional.
So where do we go from here?
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