Introducing our new responsive website. Using Joomla! 3.0 and the Helix framework we put all the pieces back together and upgraded our 5 year old site to complement our new work and web 3.0 direction.
There are few web design companies that take the time and effort to make sure they are following this process. The worst thing is their clients don't even know this is a huge issue most of the time.
A company will typically upgrade its business or corporate website every 4-5 years. I thought since I was in the process of upgrading our old site that I would write a quick informative article on how to upgrade and transfer content without being burnt or loosing links and PR.
Matchup or 301 redirect current URL structure
If the new site has a different URL structure always make sure that you either match them up or setup a 301 redirect for the main pages. Most CMS websites have SEF components that allow administrators to create URL aliases that will re-direct to the new URL.
The best way for Google to keep up with your changing website is to submit a sitemap using Google webmaster tools. When you add an article or new element to your website your sitemap should dynamically add the reference letting Google know you have made an update. I recommend submitting your sitemap as soon as you go live with your upgraded website this way everything will get indexed faster and all old listings will be updated. Bing webmaster tools also has a sitemap submission I'm not sure how well it works but I am sure it is worth the effort.
Google verification / Bing verification
If you have already done so make sure your Google and Bing verification tags or files are copied over. Normally they give you 2 options either paste verification code in the <Head> of your template or upload a file with a long name to your root directory. Both ways works fine just don't forget to do it. It just lets the search engines know that you are still the owner of the website and your submissions are legitimate.
If you have any custom re-directs or PHP settings this file normally takes care of that. It is what controls what is public and what is private. I always make sure I have a backup of it because it just keeps growing from year to year.
Check internal linking
Any old links you had from content within the eternal pages should be thought out again. I would personally recommend 3-5 internal links per page these links aid in letting search engines know what pages are more important for specific key phrases for example if I had a blog item that mentions web hosting it might be a good idea to link from "web hosting" to my web hosting service page.
Optimize images and CSS
It is hard to tell how much weight search engines are putting on this but I try to make it a habit optimize my images and CSS so the site loads like a champ.
Remember to create a upgrade list so you don't forget anything when your in the process of going live!