Is Changing Your URL Structure a Bad Idea?

Why You Should Try to Maintain Your URL Structure

There are definitive reasons you want to try to maintain your URL structure, whenever possible, outside of SEO.

For instance, a change might break bookmarks users have saved in their browser from visiting your site or emails you have sent out.

Changing the URL structure, in essence, removes the direct link relationship the user has to your site.

Or you might have advertising or collateral materials that used your URLs in their creation, which would now need to be redone at some expense.

Hopefully, you have put in 301 redirects. But if your site has undergone complete restructuring, there may have been no direct page to send the user to, in which case you might lose them in the process.

However, most reasons to not make such a change without good reasons are related to SEO.

The most important being links and the time it takes Google to rediscover your site’s pages through the new URLs.


Links to your site are still one of the top ranking factors in SEO.

Link quality, along with link quantity, is one of the measures of your site’s potential relevance and trustworthiness to Google.

When you do a site redesign, you can lose links in the process, thus decreasing your site’s SEO value.

This is why it’s so important you create a current and future sitemap and make sure to redirect those pages via a 301 (permanent redirect) to a new page that matches the old one in terms of topical focus.

If you try to redirect an old page to a page that is not similar in topical focus, Google may remove the value of those links.

And make sure to never redirect all your pages to the homepage or a top-level page if it is not that page type. Google has stated it can devalue links in these cases.

If your links are devalued, it means you lose that portion of your link profile and if those links were important it could hurt your site’s rankings.

Also, during this time, don’t forget all the links outside your website that will need to be changed as well.

For instance: paid campaigns, social platforms, and off-site advertising will also need to change have links changed as well.

Google’s Time to Rediscover Links

Google has advised site owners for some time to not change URL structure unless really necessary.

As John Mueller stated in a Reddit thread on changing URL structure it takes time for Google to rediscover links to your site.“The bigger effect will be from changing a lot of URLs (all pages in those folders) – that always takes time to be reprocessed. I’d avoid changing URLs unless you have a really good reason to do so, and you’re sure that they’ll remain like that in the long run.”

During this time, you may experience a downturn in rankings and therefore traffic.

Now this downturn is likely to right itself fairly quickly as long as you made sure to follow a migration checklist and properly applied your redirects.

But “quickly” is a relative term. Depending on the size of your business, “quickly” may still be a few weeks or even a month or more.

So how long can your business live with that downturn in rankings?

If your traffic is low and you do not enjoy high ranking placements, this is a far different question than if you are a billion-dollar company who has to report their earnings to “The Street” every three months.

If you find you have no choice but to make the change, then just make sure to plan it during your least busy time of year and that you follow all the proper protocols including your migration checklist and URL re-mappings.

Note: This does not apply to an HTTP to HTTPS change. Google has a special process for this, so there would be a minimal effect on sites who are moving to make sure they are more secure.

In the case where you have no alternative as to whether to alter the URLs, make sure to follow a migration checklist so that you do not miss anything during the process.

Missing something in a revamp of URL structure can cost you rankings and traffic.

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Why you need a digital marketing strategy in 2019

The importance of creating and using a digital marketing plan to support digital transformation and company growth

Where do you start if you want to develop a digital marketing strategy? It’s a common challenge since many businesses know how vital digital and mobile channels are today for acquiring and retaining customers. Yet they don’t have an integrated plan to grow and engage their audiences effectively. They suffer from the 10 problems I highlight later in this article and are losing out to competitors.

The challenges of creating a digital marketing strategy?

In my experience, a common challenge is where to start drawing up your digital marketing plan. I think there is a fear that a massive report is required, but we believe that lean planning works best. Your plan doesn’t need to be a huge report, a strategy can best be summarized in two or three sides of A4 in a table linking digital marketing strategies to SMART objectives within our RACE planning framework. We recommend creating a lean digital plan based on our 90-day planning templates to implement your digital plan rapidly to gain traction.

Another challenge is the sheer scope and scale of digital marketing. There are so many great digital marketing techniques ranging from search, social and email marketing to improve the digital experience of your website. Our article, What is digital marketing? shows how by using our RACE planning framework you can define a more manageable number of digital marketing activities which cover the full customer journey. Within each digital marketing technique, there are lots of detailed tactics that are important to success, so they need to be evaluated and prioritized, for example from dynamic content for email automation, website personalization to programmatic, retargeting and skyscraper content for organic search.

A recommended approach for developing a digital strategy

Whether you have a strategy or not, at the heart of the Smart Insights ‘Opportunity, Strategy, Action‘ approach to improving digital marketing, is benchmarking to compare where you are now to assess the potential against where you need to be in the future.


Click on the image below to see a larger version of one of our free marketing benchmarking templates, which you can download for free to help you create your digital marketing plan.


But what if you’re one of the companies that don’t have a digital strategy yet? Well, I think the two simple alternatives for creating a plan may suggest a way forward:

  • Start with a separate digital marketing plan defining transformation needed and making the case for investment and changes to your digital marketing
  • Then, following approval, create an integrated digital plan which is part of the overall marketing plan – digital is fully aligned and becomes part of business as usual.

So, what are the takeaways to act on here? It seems to me that:

  • Using digital marketing without a strategic approach is still commonplace. I’m sure many of the companies in this category are using digital media effectively and they could certainly be getting great results from their search, email or social media marketing. But I’m equally sure that many are missing opportunities for better targeting or optimization, or are suffering from the other challenges I’ve listed below. Perhaps the problems below are greatest for larger organizations who most urgently need governance.
  • The majority of companies in our research do take a strategic approach to digital. From talking to companies, I find the creation of digital plans often occurs in two stages. First, a separate digital marketing plan is created. This is useful to get agreement and buy-in by showing the opportunities and problems and map out a path through setting goals and specific strategies for digital including how you integrated digital marketing into other business activities. Second, digital becomes integrated into marketing strategy, it’s a core activity, “business-as-usual”, but doesn’t warrant separate planning, except for the tactics.

If you don’t have a strategy, or maybe you want to review which business issues are important to include within a strategic review, we’ve set out the 10 most common problems, that in our experience arise if you don’t have a strategy.

Do you have a digital marketing strategy?

Since 2012 we have run an informal poll to see how widely used digital marketing strategies are. The results have shown some big improvements over the years. A few years ago we found around two-thirds to three-quarters did not have a digital marketing plan. Now that number has shrunk to 45% in latest survey, although that is still quite high, and means almost half are still doing digital with no strategy in place.

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HubSpot Is Not Your Inbound Marketing Strategy

How to create an inbound marketing strategy?

In a previous life, I was tasked with guiding the content efforts for a marketing department on the threshold of building a massive inbound marketing strategy.

I had been petitioning to get HubSpot Marketing as our marketing automation platform for months — if not years — stalking their website and blog like a true fangirl.

I watched all the demo videos, took notes, talked to users, took whatever courses HubSpot Academy would allow me, and reviewed my notes again—for fun.

Then it happened.

The day we finally started using HubSpot, we celebrated and got to work right away.

We built templates, transferred our posts to the new blog, crafted a few workflows, hit “publish” on some landing pages, and were off to the races.

Then…very little happened

We bought HubSpot to become inbound marketing mavens. Instead, we found ourselves still stressed, struggling to bring in leads, and, quite frankly, fed up.

We felt like our new toy was broken. What went wrong?

It didn’t take us long to learn that HubSpot was a really cool tool, but not at all a magic bullet to solve the world’s marketing woes.

We needed a strategy.

Creating an Inbound Marketing Strategy

There’s no denying that a great piece of software can make your life monumentally easier. It can keep you better organized and make you more efficient and productive overall,  but software is only going to take you so far.

It is the means to an end; the brawn to strategy’s brains; the beast to strategy’s beauty.

Before you can put HubSpot or any tool to use, you need to frame your strategy so you know exactly what you need your tools to actually do.

Developing a strategy is no easy task, but here are five steps to get you started:

Inbound Marketing Strategy Step 1: Set Your Goals

This sounds obvious—of course, you need to have goals—but dissecting the specifics of your goals is heavy and crucial lifting in this process.

Setting goals involves both a look back at where you’ve been (what’s worked and what hasn’t) and where you want to go.

Here are some questions to get you thinking:

  • What business challenge are you trying to solve?
  • What is the desired outcome of this strategy?
  • What is the risk in this approach?
  • Who’s involved?
  • What is your budget for achieving this?
  • What if things go wrong?
  • How long do you have to show success?

Once you’ve documented your answers to these, you can map them to the Value Journey Canvas.

Value Journey Canvas 

This will help you understand where the successful outcome of your goals hits your prospects in their buyer’s journey.

For example, a goal of increasing website traffic maps to Attract/Engage and a goal of increasing sales tracks to Convert.

Inbound Marketing Strategy Step 2: Determine Your KPIs

You won’t know if you hit your goal if you don’t track it. In this step, you’ll assign key performance indicators (KPIs) to each goal.

While KPIs are unique to the goal they’re attached to, there’s a formula to creating them.

Each KPI should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely), so that you have definitive guidelines that indicate whether or not your KPI is on track.

If you’ve established the goal of increasing website traffic, for example, a SMART KPI might be to increase the number of visitors to the site from 10,000 to 11,000 within 30 days.

While your goals may be lofty, your KPIs can be much more incremental.

They’ll keep you driving toward the ultimate goal. Because KPIs leave zero room for guesswork, they’re also a firm indicator of how you’re performing as you implement your strategy.

Inbound Marketing Strategy Step 3: Outline Your Tactics

Now, here’s the fun part: where strategy meets software.

You’ve figured out where you want to go and how you’ll track your progress. The next step is to plan exactly how you’ll get there. What are the tools you’ll use to put your plan in place?

Your tactics may include blogging, technical SEO, or paid social ads for goals in the Attract/Engage stage of the Value Journey Canvas; or if your goal is around conversion, you might want to throw landing pages and calls-to-action (CTAs) into your tactical bucket.

If you’re like I was, you’ve been dreaming for a while about all the ways you’ll use HubSpot to make your marketing dreams come true.

This is the step where you’ll outline exactly what needs to be done to hit your goals with how you’ll do it with HubSpot.

Note: In many cases, your tactics will take on additional KPIs. For instance, if you’re plan is to blog in order to increase site traffic, create a KPI that defines the frequency you’ll publish. The more granular you get with your KPIs, the better. This lets you monitor your progress and gives you space to celebrate if you’re on track or make changes to fix what’s not working (so you can celebrate later).

The Inbound Marketing Sample Strategy contains tons of examples and a template you can use to create KPIs and plan your tactics.

Inbound Marketing Strategy Step 4: Plan Your Campaigns

Next, you’ll bring it all together with a campaign plan, where you’ll document your goal, your target persona, the stage of the Value Journey you’re reaching, the tactics you’ll use, and how you’ll measure your success along the way.

It’s a good idea to build an annual strategy as an overview, but to stay flexible enough on a quarterly basis so you can respond to market changes and keep your KPIs progressing consistently. While an annual plan can help you identify and track the big picture goals you want to meet, incremental planning gives you control over how you respond to your own data.

By breaking up your planning into manageable chunks throughout the year, you can better measure the success or failure of what you’ve executed on—and then adjust your plans from there.

The Inbound Marketing Strategy Template & Example also contains sample campaigns and templates to get your strategy off the ground.

Inbound Marketing Strategy Step 5: Treat People Like People

With your strategy built, you can dive into the tactical creation of what needs to be done in HubSpot (because again, HubSpot is not a strategy. It’s a tool that helps you implement one.)

What makes HubSpot so powerful—once your strategy is in place—is its capacity to allow you to treat people like, well, people. From the ability to foster Conversations to using smart content and workflows to create personalized experiences, the software gives you the power to create relationships with the people you’re reaching.

As you work through the steps, remember that any inbound marketing strategy worth its salt is, at its core, helpful, honest, and sincere.

Treating your prospects and customers as people instead of targets opens up an actual relationship with them instead of just a transaction. (And that’s why you got into inbound marketing in the first place, right?)

IMPACT created the Inbound Manifesto that outlines just how powerful this approach can be. Check it out, download it, and hang it on your wall for a daily dose of inspiration.

Wielding the Right Tool

Back in the day and several months after my old team realized it needed a strategy and went through the steps of building one, we saw our traffic increase, our contacts convert, and our sales pipeline grow.

Our strategy guided our actions and HubSpot allowed us to connect with people in new, consistent, and trusted ways.

It was the right tool  for the job—but the job was something we had to determine on its own.

Your prospects and customers—your people—aren’t interacting with HubSpot, they’re interacting with you.

Whether you’re using HubSpot or another software, you need to make sure that, at the end of the day, the tool you choose is a match for fostering that relationship and achieving your existing goals.

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