A common practice throughout the history of the internet and web design has been to use ‘under construction’ pages.
Website under construction…
Under construction pages – or ‘re-design’ or ‘we’ll be back in two weeks’ or any variation – should never be used on your website. Typically, they’re used when a website is still being built, has been taken down for a re-design or on sections that haven’t quite been finished. We’re not alone in thinking this is bad practice – there are countless designers out there that share our feelings, not to mention the people searching the web and coming across these useless, frustrating and completely valueless pages.
Your website is important
In many cases, your website is the first point of contact for people. If you came across an unfinished website, what would that say to you? Would you want to come back and do business with that organisation? Probably not. And a first impression of an unfinished website that causes frustration and annoyance isn’t what you want your company to be associated with!
And frustration is what will happen if you use construction pages. By providing a link to a webpage, you have promised to deliver something, usually information. A construction page delivers nothing but disappointment and frustration. A happy, returning and valuable customer is not one that is disappointed or frustrated. Don’t forget that you haven’t delivered on your promise either.
Under construction = bad for SEO
Under construction pages have no content on them. That means your website isn’t giving Google any content, and Google ranks websites based on their content. It most definitely does not rank or index under construction pages as complete web pages. This is bad for your website!
For a website that has never been live, this isn’t such a problem because it never had a Google rank in the first place. However, websites that have good SEO and Google search rank but get taken down for re-design, replacing content-rich pages with under construction ones, can suffer enormously and slip down Google’s rank. They can even get removed from Google’s index!
This is because Google’s search algorithm notices when content has changed, moved or disappeared and over time it changes the website’s rank. For websites that are constantly tweaking their content to reflect hot Keywords, this is great because they’ll steadily get moved up the ranks. For websites that are putting up pages with ‘under construction’ on them it’s not so great, as they are most likely going to be ignored by Google and moved down the ranks. This is a process that is difficult to reverse because getting Google to change its mind is very hard…
Ways to avoid using under construction pages
There are some very simple ways to avoid this bad practice:
- If your website isn’t ready, don’t make it live!
- The same goes for webpages, if it’s not ready then don’t put it on your website
- Make good use of staging servers – they let you see how your website will look for real
- If you feel the need to put something in place of content then give contact details or provide a small amount of brief information – something is better than nothing
- You could signpost people to other sections of your website
- Focus on what you already have and not what is missing
- If you’re getting a re-design, then just wait until the re-design is finished before replacing the old one.
At the end of the day, a website is constantly under construction. You should always be adding to, tweaking and changing your website’s content. People don’t need to be told that you’re doing this…!