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Q&A #4: My web-design process, WP plugins, errors in Google Search Console

Every month, I’m answering your questions about photography websites, business, marketing, SEO and more.

You can ask me anything. I’ll try to answer within 24 hours, and the most useful questions get featured here on the newsletter too. Need any help with your website? Don’t hesitate to write, I’m all ears.

Thanks to George, Eric & especially Kenneth (with 4 different questions) for this month’s topics. Check out my answers below, and jump in with your own thoughts by sending me a message or leaving a comment below.



“Can we fix all the URL Not Found errors in Google Search Console?”

A little context: After rebuilding a site, which included completely changing the site structure and changing permalinks, I added a lot of 301 redirects from old paths to the new respective pages. So inbound links from other sites now redirect properly to the respective new URLs. The problem is that Google Search Console (formerly called Webmaster Tools) still reports a lot of URL “Not Found” errors in their reports. 

Immediately after relaunching a site, Google still has a lot of old content indexed (which doesn’t exist anymore), which triggers those URL errors. We can consider them “false positives”.

The report I’m referring to inside Google Search Console can be found under Status > Index coverage:

New Google Search Console design - Index coverage report example with valid and extended highlighted

You might see sources that no longer exist on your site, but Google still has them in its index.

So it’s just a matter of time before Google removes all the extraneous data from its index and then such URL errors will go away.

Google actually says that 404 errors like that are normal, and that they don’t impact site rankings.

Here’s another relevant quote from an excellent Google post on this topic:

“If you see 404s reported in Webmaster Tools for URLs that don’t exist on your site, you can safely ignore them. We don’t know which URLs are important to you vs. which are supposed to 404, so we show you all the 404s we found on your site and let you decide which, if any, require your attention.”



“How long does a full redesign project take?”

From my point of view, rebuilding a site from scratch takes around 3-4 weeks at most, assuming the content is ready. Smaller design jobs take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on the complexity.

Sometimes though, the photographer needs to also restructure or rewrite the content for the new site, for which we can take an extra couple of weeks while I guide him/her through what’s needed and various best-practices.

I don’t handle copywriting for photographers, but I can make recommendations when some piece of content needs re-work for a new site.



“Do your clients notice a uptick in traffic? How long does it take for that to occur?”

Inbound traffic doesn’t change over night, and it’s up to the photographer to also promote the new site.

But they do often notice better conversions & improvements after a couple of weeks:

  • lower bounce rates because the design is better and is mobile-friendly
  • more time on site because I make sure the navigation is clean, typography is good, and that people can “flow” from one page to another with good call-to-action buttons
  • more conversions (sales or newsletter subscribers) because of how the new design/layout promote those
  • more traffic from Google after SEO tweaks

But remember that a new site is still just a multiplier of the quality of the content (and the marketing efforts).

Traffic can still trickle down if the photographer doesn’t work on it as well (new/better images, new blog posts to keep it fresh, poor social media presence etc.)



“How long does your support last after launch?”

Full question: “How long does your support last after launch? Those of us that have worked with WordPress before know that all it takes is one update to bring a site down, or make something not function the way it should (especially with plugins).”

I have many clients contacting me after 3-4 years from building their sites, I’ve become their go-to guy for small changes or opinions.

If fixes take me a few minutes, I gladly help out indefinitely. But if something requires more advanced work, we discuss that as an separate mini-project on an hourly basis.

And most importantly, when building the actual sites, I love prevention:

  • a good hosting provider
  • security measures
  • an uptime monitor (so I’m notified if the site goes down)
  • only using trusted WP plugins etc.


Need help managing your WordPress site?

Save time & money by protecting your website and having me do ongoing testing, maintenance, prevention & iterative improvements.

Check out my website maintenance plans & technical services for photographers:

Website care plans



“What is the best WordPress plugin for Content Copy protection?”

A round-up of good plugins here: 5 Powerful WordPress Plugins to Help Prevent Content Theft

Though I think this paid plugin is best: Smart Content Protector

But nothing is really 100% safe, and some of these plugins actually hurt user experience sometimes.



“How do I track what people are searching for on my site?”

Full question: “I have a question regarding WordPress websites that integrate with PhotoShelter. On my last website (which was WordPress only) there was a way for me to find out what people were searching for on my website. I believe this was done through a WP plugin. PhotoShelter, to my knowledge, has no way of tracking this. I was wondering, in the WP sites that you build and integrate with PhotoShelter, is there a way to track this? As a destination stock photographer, it always helps if you know the areas of interest of potential customers.”

To track what people are searching for on your site (called “internal site search”, as opposed to searches on Google), Google Analytics is the best way to go, and that works for any platform out there, not just WordPress and PhotoShelter.

I’ve actually covered this whole thing in detail in a previous article:




Your turn: ask me anything. I’d love for this to become a valuable “repository” of answers from the entire community of photographers.

You can help with that by getting involved:
1. Ask questions. Send them to me via email or on Twitter (@foreground).
2. Answer questions yourself. If you have anything to add to any of my answers (or can answer from a different perspective), jump right in! I’ll share relevant notes with other photographers so everyone can benefit.

Off-topic or inflammatory comments may be moderated.
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