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Sky-High SEO: Learn from Ryanair’s Mistake

Couple of months ago, Irish airliner Ryanair launched a new website, sporting a new, visual-heavy design and easy-to-use navigation. One of the largest changes was the overhaul of the online reservation booking process, which now allows customers to book a flight in as few as five clicks. The redesign should have helped bolster Ryanair’s brand, and help solidify its standings near the top of Google’s search rankings for “cheap flights” to several destinations in Europe.

However, according to web search analytics firm Intelligent Positioning, Ryanair has fallen out of the top 100 search results for flights to Romania, Belgium, Greece, Austria, and others for which Ryanair was the first search result. This nose-dive in rankings coincides with the website re-launch. What went wrong? It turns out a simple SEO mistake has cost Ryanair years of work – and money.

Ryanair changed their web address when they re-launched the site, but failed to use proper redirects, which reroutes traffic – and SEO value – from the old site to the new site. Now, users who try to access any of the pages on the Ryanair website from the old URLs receive error messages, which hurts traffic and SEO value is not being passed from the old site to the new.

So how do you keep your company website from succumbing to the same fate? You have to keep your website relevant, visually interesting, and up-to-date, which means you’ll have to redesign and re-launch your website, likely many times.

The best way you can protect your site from a potential SEO catastrophe is to establish a pre-launch checklist, and test every element of that site thoroughly, from site functionality to copyediting. Your SEO elements should have its own section on your checklist, and checking your live URLs and redirects should be on that list. Only move forward with the site launch when your checklist has been completed.

While Ryanair is working to migrate their old and new sites and have received positive reactions to the site redesign from their customer base, it will take time for the company to recover their lost search rankings. Avoid digging a hole for your company and check your URLs before you go ahead with the site launch!

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About Alexander Kesler