How to Preserve and Improve Your SEO Through a Website Redesign
Designing a new website presents every company with a unique opportunity. They have the ability to update their website to standard best practices, get a fresh look, and even improve their SEO rankings. However, this exciting opportunity also comes with its risks. If you don’t take the right steps to preserve your current site’s SEO rankings, you might damage your SEO equity when you transfer content from the old website to the new. SEO equity is not something you want to give up since it can take years to build it up properly.
In this article, we’ll discuss what you need to have on your checklist for your redesign and your site transfer to preserve and improve your SEO ranking.
Things to Know Before a Website Redesign
Before diving head-first into your website redesign, you need to have a base knowledge of a few things:
Know What Currently Works SEO-Wise
Hopefully, you already have some idea of what works well for your website, but in case you don’t, take some time to get acquainted with your Google Analytics page. You should know what kinds of keywords and topics rank well, as well as the pages that bring in the most organic traffic. These are the kinds of things you’ll want to replicate on your new website.
Understand Common Issues That Typically Happen During a Redesign
The easiest way to avoid damaging your website’s SEO is to know all the components that could potentially be damaged by redesigning it. As an internet marketing company here are some items we see that are typically problematic during a redesign:
- Domain and subdomain may change
- Content can be removed, changed, or move in the hierarchy
- Page-level optimization can change
- URLs might not match
- Internal link structure might change
- New sections and content might be added to the website
- New technical issues could be introduced
All of these factors and more can impact your SEO rankings. If your new website faces multiple issues, it can be difficult to diagnose the problem. For example, you should avoid changing the domain name at the same time you do your redesign. When you experience a dip in SEO performance, you won’t know if it’s due to the domain name change or something else you did in your redesign.
What Are You Changing in the Redesign?
Whatever changes you decide to make on your website, they should all be aligned toward two goals.
The first is to preserve your site’s existing ranking spot and traffic volume. The second is to improve upon that ranking and traffic.
When you redesign your site, you should have a complete sitemap to compare against your old site to help you map out URL moves.
Your Website Redesign Checklist
If you spend a little bit of time planning before you redesign your website, you can save yourself a tremendous headache down the road. Here are some things that should be on your checklist to help you preserve your SEO ranking:
- Use 301 redirects to direct the old links to the new ones. This should be the first thing you do.
- Don’t shut down the old site immediately; transfer it to a temporary web address and block web crawlers.
- Don’t change the URL structure or page names unnecessarily. There’s less chance for something to go wrong.
- Leave high-performing content alone until everything’s settled on the new website.
- Send a message to webmasters who have backlinks to your page on their sites to update them with the new one.
- Be sure to preserve the same number of internal links to help maintain your site structure.
- As soon as you can, send an updated XML sitemap to Bing and Google.
- Monitor everything like organic traffic and your rankings. The sooner you can catch a major dip in either, the faster you can fix the problem.
- Do a technical site audit on your new site which can provide insight into any technical issues you might have.
The most important thing you can do before a website redesign is to understand where your current website stands, what works well, and know the errors that are likely to occur with redesigning a website. Knowing all these things can help you transition smoothly from your old website to the new one. To book a free SEO audit of your website before you start your redesign, click here.