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SEO advice on a project I'm taking on? Details below

ek1

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Hi,
The non-profit shelter my Mom works for currently has three websites, and all three come up when you google it, in this order:
1. their page on the church's website (ie church.com/?page=homelessshelter) which has a link to their Facebook page and some outdated info they're not able to directly change
2. (their Facebook page)
3. Their .org site, hosted by Wix
4. A .ca site with literally some plain text and their logo, being sat on by their old developer.

Obviously it's a mess. I'm proposing we migrate the .org to a new host, redirect the .ca to the .org, but I'm not sure what to do about the church page since it's the top result. I'm not familiar enough with SEO to know whether, for example, getting the church to change the link in their navbar to the .org site will affect the ranking/how it will affect the ranking. And since we're migrating the .org, I feel like SEO-wise it would be best to leave the church page as it is and just add a link to the .org.

Or any other advice.
 

Adam

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Most domain changes will result in a usually temporary hit of some kind but it's worth considering if it would be better in the long run (which it sounds like it probably will).

Whenever you're redirecting, make sure you use a 301 redirect and definitely not a 302 or some kind of JavaScript thing. A 301 will ensure that Google considers this the new page and pass all it's existing link juice on.

If you're not already, sign up to Google Search Console as well as a SERP tracker such as serpfox.com so you can monitor the effects of your changes.

Which platform are you planning to create/host the final main website on?
 

ek1

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Thanks! The .ca will definitely be a 301 redirect and I think I'll ask the church to do what they can. I'm not sure what our options are for redirecting directly from the church's page because it seems to be handled on the back end (eg church.ca/?page=shelter). Might just get them to change the link in their navbar to go to the .org site.

It'll be a single-page wordpress install with ACF, not sure of the host yet.
 
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Adam

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Moz says that a meta refresh does pass SOME link equity, so if you can paste some HTML in to the Churches page (or ask the church webmaster to) then you could use a meta refresh tag to redirect as it will be better than nothing on that page. Getting the backlink from the church site to your new site will help as well.

Be sure to put the new correct site URL in the Facebook page as well as I believe that can count for something.

If you build on the .org, connect the .ca to your web hosting as well just to serve up 301 redirects. Keep the .ca going for at least a year (perhaps you would consider even longer if it has backlinks pointing to it from elsewhere). Like for like pages best where possible but for everything else I would just do a wildcard 301 redirect to the .org homepage.

You can search for backlinks online here: Free Backlink Checker by Ahrefs: Check Backlinks for Any Website. If any point to your old sites it would be sensible to contact the website owners and ask them nicely to change to your new URL. Backlinks are an important ranking factor.

That should leave you with one nice site that's had as much SEO link juice passed to is as possible, a facebook page and a strong backlink from the main church site. Seems like that should leave you in a better position! 🙂

I would normally advise staying away from single page sites if SEO is a consideration since they do not perform as well. Google prefers specific targeted pages so that users get the content they want right away. Other SEO tips:
  • Blogs are great, quality content is king
  • Always run off HTTPS with an SSL/TLS cert
  • Use the plugin 'The SEO Framework' for WordPress, it is simply the best out there (and free)
I would expect with the redirects in place that by the time the old links drop off that your new site should remain towards the top, especially if it is there already. Do not bring the .org Wix site down until you have your new .org site ready to maintain those rankings and uptime else you'll be starting again.
 
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Gummibeer

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If the .ca has more pages you should redirect every single one to the new instance of it's content. This will keep everything intact for Google.

In addition you could add all possible schema.org tags to your pages and add your .org page to your Google places entry.

If you choose WordPress you should check @m1guelpf sitesauce. Performance is a major key factor in SEO. Or you use any JAMstack static generator.

After reaching 100 in ALL lighthouse ratings you should increase accessibility. Adding all social tags og: & twitter: will also help.

You should also check your content. Use "a lot" text with synonyms and keywords.

After this collect Backlinks. Check if the city will list you or if there is any major help organization that could list/write about you.
Do interviews with employees/volunteers and so on to get content.
 
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ek1

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@Adam Oh wow, this is great advice, thanks so much!!

Question: Wix shuts down your site when you transfer the domain from them, and it'll take up to 7 days to transfer. Is there some way to mitigate the hit here?

Another question: They're not super prepared to blog regularly, is one good post every few months still good or at that point is it best to forgo the blog and focus on other content? Point noted about single page sites, will make distinct pages with SEO in mind.
 
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m1guelpf

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If you choose WordPress you should check @m1guelpf sitesauce. Performance is a major key factor in SEO. Or you use any JAMstack static generator
Hey, feel free to ping me to get into the beta! (And thanks for the ping @Gumibeer, I really should think about starting an affiliate program 😉
 
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Adam

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@Adam Oh wow, this is great advice, thanks so much!!

Question: Wix shuts down your site when you transfer the domain from them, and it'll take up to 7 days to transfer. Is there some way to mitigate the hit here?

Another question: They're not super prepared to blog regularly, is one good post every few months still good? Point noted about single page sites, will make distinct pages with SEO in mind.
Yes a blog every few months is still useful if the posts are at least 300 or so words. Don't do it if it's just going to have an intro post and be ignored for years, I know what clients can be like... 😄 If that is the case it might be better to have 'last updated' dates on the pages to give a semblance of freshness and keep them updated.

That is a strange Wix policy, I have not used them before. Does the site go down as soon as you trigger the transfer or when it is finally transferred? If the latter you can get a HTML mirror ready (could be as crude as copying the key content and titles and putting it in to a barebones HTML file with the same URL, Google is not too fussed on aesthetics!). If the former, seems like there is no way around that as you're held hostage.
 
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Gummibeer

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@Adam Oh wow, this is great advice, thanks so much!!

Question: Wix shuts down your site when you transfer the domain from them, and it'll take up to 7 days to transfer. Is there some way to mitigate the hit here?

Another question: They're not super prepared to blog regularly, is one good post every few months still good or at that point is it best to forgo the blog and focus on other content? Point noted about single page sites, will make distinct pages with SEO in mind.
Domains and DNS are a pretty slow area and you can't speed anything up. I would suggest switch DNS to cloudflare. TTL of ~5-15min is amazing and it's the fastest DNS out there.
 
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Gummibeer

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To conclude: SEO is three major parts.
1) the content
2) the tech - performance, HTML attributes, rich data, sitemap ...
3) backlinks

All of them are "nothing" without the others.
The best content in the world won't rank without backlinks and accessibility on images/links...
The best performance can't compensate bad content. And tons of backlinks won't rank your bad content.

The tech is your part - so you should reach 110%.
The content is you & owner - so guide them and tell them that a two sentence intro isn't enough.
Backlinks are a mix of network/connections, asking and money.

I've no idea how @Adam has setup outgoing links? But it could be worth to create a post, after refactor, and link the page. This would be at least one easy backlink. 😉
Facebook, Google places and so on are also some.
Check if there are any bloggers or other related pages and ask for a cooperation.

But backlinking is the super last step.
 
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Adam

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Ah, regarding the Wix domain:
Set-up a HTML mirror first with the key pages and content at the same URLs (or get a headstart on your 301s) and then change the A record to point to your new hosting BEFORE you start the transfer. This will disconnect from your site but keep in your account. Then the DNS should not go down while it is being transferred, just make sure you have the same DNS records set-up at your destination. For this I would recommend using Cloudflare and using their nameservers while managing your DNS there. It is super fast for DNS changes (usually seconds with an auto TTL).

Hope that makes sense! Let me know if I can help with anything, this kind of thing is one of my specialities. 😎
 
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