With a fresh new year to work with, a lot of you will be thinking about making fresh starts in other parts of your life. Perhaps it's time for a fresh relationship, a fresh set of career goals, or perhaps even a brand-new website on a fresh domain?

time to push the reset button?

If that sounds almost sacrilegious, I certainly understand. Since the dawn of the SEO age (AKA the last few years or so), conventional wisdom has been that you always keep building up the website you already have. That's because the effects of adding content are generally cumulative, and Google prefers older, more established websites over newer ones that might not be as trustworthy.

That's all true, and worth keeping in mind. However, the opposite can also be true:

Some business websites have become so burned by outdated or black hat SEO tactics that virtually no amount of goodwill is ever going to bring them back up towards the top of the search engine rankings.

Some of you who are reading this – and you know who you are – have put their trust in the wrong web designers or SEO consultants, and unknowingly (I'm assuming) engaged in black hat tactics. If you fall into that category, the latest Hummingbird algorithm update probably rapped you on the knuckles pretty hard.

So, should you consider starting fresh and pushing that reset button?

That's a judgment call, but if the damage from past SEO efforts is so bad that your search traffic has dropped out of sight, Google won't index any of your new pages, there are dozens of pages of eerily similar content on your website, and/or you have countless low-quality links pointing at your domain, then rebuilding from the ground up might be your wisest option.

I recommend that you have an online marketing professional review your existing website before taking this step, but if you decide to take the plunge, here's how to get up and running again quickly:

1. Choose the right domain name.

Obviously, domains are a big decision, but don't fall for the trap of simply selecting the easiest keyword match. Those can be good domains (if you can even get them), but you also want one that's easy for potential customers to remember, and one that accurately reflects what your business is all about. Tip: Incorporate your name into your URL.

2. Pursue a smart content strategy.

In most situations, you are not going to earn a top Google ranking in a few weeks. But, you don't necessarily have to wait a year before search engines will start paying attention to your site, either. The best way to speed things up is to regularly publish relevant, unique articles and posts with only minimal attention paid to SEO details and then ENGAGE in social discussions around them. In other words, publish content for customers rather than search engines, because you really should be.

3. Learn from past mistakes.

As frustrating as it might be to rebuild your web presence, think about how awful you'd feel if you had to start it all over again next year. The point is to think about how hiring bargain-basement SEO consultants, or looking for quick fixes to your online marketing problems, led you to a place where you are willing to burn down your website and start over again. Avoid repeating the same mistakes and you should be fine.

It isn’t easy to decide to throw out what you've done the past and begin anew with a brand-new website and domain name. But, contrary to conventional wisdom, that can sometimes be your most cost-effective option, and ironically enough, can be the quickest way back to a positive online presence that generates new leads for your business.

Just be sure that you put a priority on getting there the right way, or you might be facing the same dilemma all over again next year.

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By Randy Milanovic