It's a very common thing to want to do in the new year. Part of getting your business goals moving forward is to upgrade your website. There are many reasons to do this and even as I write this I'm considering doing the same for my own site. BUT BEWARE!
Most people don't realize the consequences or the pitfalls associated with starting up a brand new site. With all of the right intentions, what could possibly go wrong? Consider this - no matter how good or how bad your website is, Google and the other search engines have indexed it and it is showing up in search results. A new website may involve changing your menu structure and most likely your page URL's will all change. If you're not careful, your existing URL's will be lost in the search results and your brand new beautiful site has to start from scratch to rebuild search engine exposure.
Here's a recent example of a business who did a complete upgrade. What's worse is that they had been doing (and paying for SEO) for the last 4 years and they owned the search engines. EVERY one of their products and services ranked on the first page of Google. Today, just a short 2-weeks after that upgrade, 4 years worth of SEO was tossed out the window. The business owner had her cousin - recently graduated from Design and Advertising curriculum, build a brand new beautiful site without letting us know over the Christmas holiday. They have no idea what hit them or why. This is what we see in the web ranking reports after a single month before and after:
On DECEMBER 02, 2015 – 1st page rankings
Total Number 1 positions: 29
Total Top 5 positions: 104
Total Top 10 positions : 157
Current JANUARY, 2016 – 1st page rankings
Total Number 1 positions: 4 (86% loss)
Total Top 5 positions: 50 (52% loss)
Total Top 10 positions: 86 (45% loss)
In less than two weeks, almost half of the 1st page organic results have disappeared from Google! Eventually they'll drop off the other search engines too. They will not come back! No search engine wants to show a result that leads to a "page not found" error and once this is noticed, the search result to that page is gone. The new site has not been optimized and it's doubtful that it will see the exposure that the old site enjoyed without a lot of re-invested effort.
The sad thing is that this upgrade penalty could have been completely avoided. The best time to optimize (or re-optimize) is when you're building a new site. At the same time, simple mapping the old site URLs to their corresponding new site URLs would have prevented the pages from being dropped in the search engine results pages (via 301 redirects which tell Google that there is a new page replacing the old page).
So, the moral is simple. Don't ignore your old site indexing. CAPTURE it and redirect it to the new and beautiful site and you will have very few regrets associated with your new website.
If you're considering an upgrade, feel free to consult with us. Our website consultation is free of charge and you may save yourself tons of grief associated with what should be an awesome experience.