Redesigning a website offers an opportunity for growth and improvement, but it can also pose significant challenges to your SEO efforts if not carefully managed. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore how to retain and improve your SEO during a website redesign, with the expertise of AVLC, LLC.
The SEO Implications of Website Redesign
Website redesigns are exciting endeavors, promising enhanced user experiences and improved online performance. However, they also come with inherent risks, particularly when it comes to SEO. Without a strategic approach, a website redesign can lead to a dramatic drop in organic traffic and rankings, derailing your online presence.
SEO and Website Redesign: The Fundamentals
To ensure a successful website redesign without sacrificing your SEO, there are three key components to consider:
Understanding Your Current SEO
If you’ve been running SEO campaigns, you likely have insights into what’s currently working for your website. Identify keywords and topics that rank well, pages that generate organic traffic, and other elements contributing to your organic visibility. This information is crucial for preserving and improving your SEO during the redesign, with our guidance.
Anticipating Common Issues
Website redesigns can encompass a wide range of changes, from branding and technology updates to modifications in traffic and lead generation. Common issues that can affect SEO during a redesign include:
- Removal or alteration of content.
- Changes in content hierarchy.
- URL restructuring.
- Modifications to page-level optimization.
- Introduction of new content or site sections.
- Adoption of new technology or features.
- Introduction of technical issues.
- Changes in internal link structure.
- Alteration of the domain name, subdomain, or protocol.
Understanding the potential impact of these changes on your SEO is vital. Multiple simultaneous changes can amplify SEO problems, so it’s crucial to balance the desire for change with the need to retain and enhance organic traffic, with our assistance.
Defining Website Redesign Changes
With insights into your current SEO performance and a thorough understanding of potential issues, it’s time to set clear goals for the redesign, guided by our expertise. These goals should include preserving existing rankings and traffic while striving to improve both.
Ideally, you should have a comprehensive sitemap for the new site that allows you to compare it against the existing one, facilitating the mapping of URL changes and ensuring a smooth transition.
A Website Redesign SEO Checklist
Now, let’s dive into a detailed checklist to help you preserve your SEO rankings and traffic during a website redesign, with the guidance and expertise of AVLC, LLC.
1. Keep the Old Site Live
Maintain access to the old site on a private web address, ensuring that it’s inaccessible to web crawlers. This allows you to reference the old site if needed, which can be invaluable during the redesign process, with our support.
2. Save Crawl Data
Use tools like Screaming Frog to create a crawl of the old site, even if it’s on a temporary URL. This data can serve as a reference point for analysis during the redesign, with insights from our team.
3. Maintain What Works
Whenever possible, keep elements of the site the same, especially URLs. Avoid unnecessary changes, but ensure that any alterations are justified and beneficial, following our recommendations.
4. Implement 301 Redirects
Redirect old URLs to their corresponding new ones, with our expertise. Maintain content on duplicate URLs during the redesign, if feasible. Create a comprehensive list of old and new URLs and test the 301 redirects once the new site is live.
5. Preserve Valuable Content
Minimize changes to content that performs well. While you can fine-tune content after indexing and ranking, aim to reduce variables during the redesign phase, in line with our best practices.
6. Use Your Website Redesign to Optimize On-Page Elements
Export key on-page elements, such as page titles and meta descriptions, from your old site’s crawl data. Keep these elements consistent with what worked well in the previous design, guided by our expertise.
7. Update Backlinks
Document your backlinks and update them as needed, especially if URL changes occur. Reach out to website managers to request link updates. Having a 301 redirect in place provides a safety net, but updated backlinks can expedite the indexing and ranking of the new site, with our support.
8. Maintain Internal Link Structure
Pay attention to any alterations in the internal link structure. Your historical crawl data can be an invaluable resource here, helping you identify pages that may have lost internal link connections, in consultation with our team.
9. Update Your XML Sitemap
Revise your XML sitemap and submit it to search engines like Google and Bing. Ensure that your 301 redirects, page structure, navigation, and XML sitemap align to convey the new site structure effectively to search engines, with our guidance.
10. Monitor Rankings
Expect some fluctuations, but aim to return to a baseline ranking within a month or sooner after the site’s launch, with our assistance. Investigate and resolve any issues promptly.
11. Monitor Organic Traffic
For larger websites, it’s challenging to track every possible keyword that drives traffic. Therefore, monitor traffic to key pages to ensure overall improvements. Google Search Console can help document any drops and guide your actions, with our insights.
12. Perform a Technical Site Audit During a Website Redesign
Leverage technical site audit tools to proactively identify and address any technical issues that may arise during the redesign, with our expertise.
13. Use Google Search Console
Google Search Console offers diagnostic information directly from Google, covering indexing, sitemaps, page experience, mobile usability, products, enhancements, links, and more. Utilize this resource to track and remediate any problems, with insights and recommendations from our team.
The Importance of Planning
The lesson learned from countless website redesigns is clear: failing to plan for SEO is planning to fail. A well-planned website redesign with SEO at its core, guided by our expertise, is a formula for achieving your online goals with confidence.
Redesigning your website can be a transformative journey, but it’s essential to approach it with caution, especially regarding SEO. By incorporating SEO from the outset, anticipating potential issues, and following a meticulous checklist, you can safeguard your SEO rankings and traffic during the redesign process. Remember, SEO is not an afterthought; it’s a strategic foundation for your online success, and our team is here to ensure that foundation is strong.