Designing for people also means working to make the site visible and accessible to those looking for information on search engines.
The beauty of the projects that we follow in TSW also lies in the peculiarities of each case, often linked to specific needs and collaboration with other suppliers of our customers. If we think, for example, of putting a site online, each project can include all phases, from the design of the company’s coordinated image to ongoing consultancy for visibility and content production. For Cetif, for example, we took care of the entire platform design.
But there are also cases in which we are contacted after the project has already started, for vertical and specialist support in a single design area, such as that of organic visibility on search engines. They ask us for SEO consultancy, therefore, to understand how to act. As we have already said in another article, for us SEO is much more than optimization for search engines.
For us, SEO is welcoming, because we want to help our customers welcome people to their sites, as if they were inviting them into their own home. For us, SEO is about creating the best possible online browsing experience.
This is the case of Italmatch Chemicals, a world leader group in the chemical sector, specialized in water treatments, lubricants, fuels, plastics and personal care products. This company contacted us to help them in a crucial phase of putting a new site online, an activity that is often underestimated or in some cases even forgotten: SEO migration.
To tell you about this fundamental activity, let’s start from the beginning of our collaboration.
In 2021 Italmatch Chemicals, following a restyling of their websites, noticed a significant loss in web traffic volumes, which in some cases exceeded 50%.
How to remedy this drop in accesses and therefore in visibility? Our analysis started from the publication of the new site and we found that the online launch was not accompanied by a good SEO migration.
To use a metaphor, the Italmatch Chemicals site had moved without communicating the new addresses for the resources contained therein: almost all the results present and visible in Google search results had an address that was no longer reachable which led interested people to an error page or 404. This has led to a slow but inexorable disappearance from the search engine indexes, which causes a decrease in a large part of the visibility acquired over years of work.
To better understand the problem we faced and how we managed it, let’s delve into the concept of SEO migration.
The SEO migration activity is essential in the case of moving from an old site to a new one, to safeguard the value in the eyes of Google of what has been achieved up to that moment. We can talk about Google, meaning search engines in general, since this covers 90% of the world market shares, while in Italy and France it reaches over 98%.
We said: over time a site acquires a certain visibility on search engines. The more its contents respond to people’s searches, and therefore to the Google algorithm, the more they will enter the SERP by right and, the luckiest, the first page, also giving companies business opportunities. (Have you ever heard those idioms similar to: “where to hide something you don’t want to be found? On the second page of Google.”? Here: they give a good idea of how important it is to position yourself well for keywords relevant to your business).
In other words: a site with a longer history, which has responded to people’s searches over time and has positioned itself for certain queries, has more value for search engines than a site that has just been put online from scratch. So how to preserve this value when you decide to change site? With an SEO migration.
To position any page of a site – for better or worse – among the search results, Google needs to memorize and catalog the addresses of these pages: the so-called URLs. Moving to a new site often brings with it a massive set of changes to what Google already knows about what populates that domain.
In particular, in this phase a review of the information architecture and the use of a different name for the page URLs are often implemented. This leads to “emptying” old URLs of the resources contained in an “old” page, which are often “moved” to a different address. These changes happen for various reasons:
But what happens if we change the addresses to our web pages without “warning” Google”? To return to the metaphor: it would be a bit like moving house without notifying anyone of our new address. We would no longer be traceable (visible).
Getting good visibility on search engines often costs effort, time and investment. It is precisely the migration to a new site that is the most risky moment for losing all the visibility acquired on Google, often creating serious economic damage for the company. This is why we try to intervene with the SEO migration during the “web” migration: to save all the work consolidated up to that moment.
This was not possible with Italmatch Chemicals: as we said, the customer came to us after the publication had already taken place without SEO migration. Knowing the dynamics of Google, there weren’t many possible ways to go, above all because months had already passed since the new sites went online.
We decided to prepare an SEO migration just as if we were in the go-live phase, confident that Google would have interpreted these signals positively despite their late (probably out of time) implementation. Our attempt has borne fruit, as predicted, recovering much of the lost traffic.
Our SEO strategy is divided into three phases:
Over the years, the customer has acquired a few dozen web domains, as a result of its strategy of acquiring other companies or following brand protection activities on many Italmatch Chemicals products. We then analyzed the domains one at a time, evaluating their behavior:
From this analysis, and related mapping of the state of the art, a plan was proposed to the client which, in our opinion, provided for a more correct management of their domain assets from an SEO perspective. In close collaboration with the client’s IT department, we were thus able to resolve the errors identified during our analysis, allowing for more correct SEO management of their domains, bringing more SEO value to the pages of the newly published sites.
The second phase was the most particular. As mentioned, at the time of our activities a few months had already passed from the dates of publication of the new Italmatch Chemicals sites. For this we had to recover the pages of the “old” sites that no longer exist, which were positioned on Google in the months prior to the various go-lives. Our priority was to recover the pages that received a high number of visits.
Following this analysis, the rules for redirecting these URLs to new pages that were more consistent in terms of content were prepared and were correctly inserted in the .htaccess file of the sites by the Italmatch IT team.
Once the two phases strictly related to migration were completed, we dedicated ourselves to SEO optimization of the platform, in this case on CMS WordPress. we therefore have:
In addition, we have inserted “contact us” CTAs on various pages of the site to get more contacts, an activity more linked to usability and the conversion goal.
Although months late, the new Italmatch Chemicals sites have had their SEO migration.
Although our expectations were positive, but in any case not as good as when we migrate a site on the SEO side, during the golive, within a few weeks we have witnessed a trend reversal both for SEO positioning and for the traffic received by the sites involved from our activities.
In addition, we have found that the new product pages have almost all positioned themselves in first position for the name of the products and that the number of contacts has tripled by default.
This demonstrates how the value of a site’s content for people, past or present, continues to be a fundamental ranking factor for Google and how working on the SEO side fully reflects our listening and welcoming approach on the web.