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6 Requirements When Relaunching a Publisher Website

The Mobile Responsive Design Whitepaper  discusses the necessity of moving your site to a mobile-friendly design. Many eHS publishers are currently in this process. Last month, eHS helped relaunch (DIC). As we expected, the impact of mobile responsiveness was apparent: relaunching to a mobile friendly platform has increased mobile traffic by 20%.

In the process of relaunching we learned six important considerations we wanted to share to help you reap the benefits of a mobile-friendly relaunch while avoiding potential pitfalls:

1. 301 Redirects: Having 301 redirects in place before launch cannot be stressed enough. During the process of relaunching DIC, we had a mishap that vividly illustrated the importance of redirects.

The DIC site had 17,000 pages. Many of them were well-established in the Google organic index. When we launched the site, we had 9,000 redirects in place to ensure we maintained rank. However, the fourth day after relaunch, the redirect file was accidentally overwritten and 6,500 redirects were lost. The traffic started to plummet immediately. All of the lost traffic was attributed to the Google organic referrer. When we determined what had happened and restored the overwritten redirects, the traffic came back:



2. Consider the following changes for Viewability:

  • If ads are not mobile-optimized, then a smaller mobile sized ad should replace every 728×90 or bigger size when people access on a mobile device. If you do not have the smaller replacement ads, then the larger ads should disappear. The Mobile Responsive Design Whitepaper explains how to accomplish this.
  • In order for an ad to even be seen on a mobile device, consider placing a 300×250 directly in your content or article. If you place an ad on the right hand side or left hand side, it can get pushed to the very bottom of the page and will never be seen if people do not scroll all the way to the bottom of the article in the mobile device. Test on different mobile devices before launch to be sure the ads are in a good placement on the page and are visible.
  • Use lazy loading ads for any ad that is below the fold.
  • Consider using stationary floating ads for unused white space. These will need to disappear when the browser or device is too small to show them.

3. User Acceptance Testing (UAT): Plan plenty of time for UAT. This is especially important if you are moving to more than one system at a time. For instance during the DIC relaunch, we also moved to a new email system. Launching too early before your team is completely familiar with all new systems can cause havoc for both the users of your site and the team updating the website.

4. Let Users Know Before Relaunch: Not only is it good publicity to let users know you are relaunching, it is also forewarning them that things will change. People generally do not like change, but if you let them know ahead of time, they can look forward to it, particularly if you are adding new functionality to your site. Be willing to accept criticism immediately and make changes as people express their opinions. For example, on the DIC relaunch, we used a dark orange color for the link text on the enewsletter. We immediately got feedback that this was confusing and difficult to read. On the next enewsletter send, we immediately changed all our link colors to blue. Be willing to change things on the fly, if you can, to help your users.

5. Links within an article: Minimize links to resources and citations directly in your articles. If links die, you have no way to change them on a bulk level. You will have to go into each and every article and make changes. On DIC, there were 17,000 articles to edit — it is a tedious task. You may lighten the work by using a “bad link checker.” The reason this is so important is for both your users and search engines. Obviously, users do not like clicking on dead links and wasting their time, but search engine algorithms are also keen to it and will reduce the importance of the article if it has dead links.One way to avoid this is to eliminate links to citations. According to the Purdue Online Writing Lab, a URL is not required on a web source for proper citation. Cite a source like this:

Pew Research Center, Cell Phone and Smartphone Ownership Demographics, January 2014. Web.

If you must put a link into the article to give credit to an author, then it is recommended that you use an author plugin (in WordPress, there is a plugin that displays a bio on each author). Then it is only one change within the author’s file to get rid of a bad link.

6. RSS Feeds: Include a picture in your RSS feed and use the feed in all your social media pages. Social media exploded on DIC when we relaunched because of the addition of pictures in the feed. The most important social media outlets are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, in that order. Facebook is now the biggest social media referrer to the relaunched DIC site, increasing social media referrers by 200%.

If you need advice or analytic services when relaunching, please contact Bryan Bonder. It is better to get a consultation during the planning stages, so that you can make the appropriate changes before the site launches rather than during the launch. However, we also will examine your traffic patterns and different referrers both before and after launch, so that you will understand how the relaunch has impacted your site. Reach out to see what we can do for you.

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