You can think what you want regarding the revamped FNB web design. I don’t like it that much and find it quite confusing but that might be only a matter of getting used to it. Another story is the obvious lack of technical SEO preparation before launching the new website design which I discovered when searching for information about eBucks and FNB on google.co.za.

Several FNB pages only return an empty website with the words “Page Not Found”:

page-not-found

I was convinced that this must be an exception. A big financial organisation such as FNB can’t afford to miss out on something like a URL mapping and redirect strategy. At least that is what I thought because 404 errors not only harm the user experience but negatively impact the natural/organic search visibility and the performance of your most important KPIs.

So I performed a search for all the web pages of fnb.co.za that are indexed by google.co.za. But check it out yourself. Out of the first 20 results, only seven are actually accessible! And this doesn’t get any better on the following pages.

site:fnb.co.za - Google Search

site:fnb.co.za - Google Search

Obviously, the team responsible for the relaunch did not have a redirect strategy whatsoever. They should have 301 redirected all those old pages to the corresponding new pages which tells search engines that they have permanently moved. “Mapping the old URLs to the most relevant, new URLs and placing a 301 redirect will protect the search equity, which has been built up by the old URLs”, Geoffrey Wilcoxson from icrossing points out. That is a little bit of work if you have 11.300 pages in the Google index, yes. But absolutely essential if you don’t want to miss out on potential business opportunities and don’t want to upset users that can’t find what they are looking for.

I (don’t) want to know how much traffic and pagerank FNB.co.za loses (now and in future) by having failed to redirect the old pages to the new ones. Whoever is responsible for the redesign should react asap and redirect all pages to the new URLs in order to counteract negative impacts. Otherwise FNB.co.za will lose not only traffic but also search engines rankings because all the back links which point to the old pages only create 404 errors (page not found) and can’t pass any page rank. Any type of authority or trust attributed to those pages from links are lost. I already mentioned that this does not only hurt the website performance in search engines but also the user experience big time.

Development of SEO visibility of website that did redesign without redirect strategy | Image Courtesy: icrossing

Development of SEO visibility of website that did redesign without redirect strategy | Image Courtesy: icrossing

Also, it is very important to create useful 404 pages for missing pages that can not be found online anymore. A simple page with the words “Page Not Found” without any branding and navigational links doesn’t provide the users with any useful information (e.g. where to find what they are looking for and other helpful content), and most users may just surf away from the website instead of exploring it further.

I am going to observe the development of the website visibility in search engines and continue to report it here on my blog with tips on how to regain rankings and traffic. I hope this helps others to prevent similar mistakes when pursuing a website redesign. If you have any questions in regards of SEO, please feel free to contact me.

Read the following article for more information about website redesign & technical SEO:

» How to Avoid SEO Disaster During a Website Redesign[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]