A website redesign is an inevitable aspect of maintenance. It is important to do it at least once every three to four years to ensure your website doesn’t appear dated or stagnant.
But a redesign places your existing SEO campaign at risk. If you have a thriving site, you most likely have an excellent SEO strategy in place. A website redesign can ruin the progress and cause harm to your rankings.
Fortunately, with careful planning and execution, it is possible to ensure your SEO continues to work well even after the redesign. This article provides some tips on how to complete the redesign safely without causing problems with your SEO.
1. Learn from The Past
Your old website has a lot of information that can help with your new one. It is important to crawl and audit the old platform to collect as much information as possible.
Crawling helps you understand the website structure while an audit ensures you understand the website SEO.
Collect all of the data you can and study it carefully before you plan the redesign process. This can help you avoid mistakes and retain the most beneficial qualities of your old site.
2. Test The New Site Before Launch
You need to crawl, audit, and test the new website thoroughly before launch. The crawling and audit will give you information to compare with the older site’s information. You can check if your new portal has retained all of the best features from the older version.
Testing the site before it is launched and indexed is a great way to make sure it is functioning well. Explore the website through the user’s perspective, check the mobile performance, and take note of other such essentials.
Also Read, How to Create a Successful Mobile Web Design
3. Check The Ranking
It is a good idea to check your rankings a few days after making the switch. This will let you know if you made the switch safely. If you see a sharp rise or fall in your rankings on particular keywords, you need to check the website again and identify the error.
There are several tools available to check website ranking and corresponding keywords. If you see a sharp fall in ranking on one or two keywords, fixing the error is easy. If the drop is consistent on all keywords, you might have to look deeper into website design.
4. Set Up Redirects
Redirects are an important aspect of migrating to a different platform. There are two types of redirects you need to implement. One is the 301 redirect, which informs Google that your site has moved to a different location permanently.
This ensures Google knows the new pages might have similar content and they can rank them similarly. Make sure you implement the 301 redirects on every page to ensure neither the search engine nor the visitors become lost.
404 redirects enhance user experience and help with search engines. They are the last step to ensure users aren’t left hanging when they encounter broken links.
5. Change Domains Carefully
Changing domain names is probably the trickiest aspect of this transition. The best way to handle this is to first shift the old website into the new domain. Once your new website is ready, you can replace the old website with the new.
You will need 301 redirects to ensure all of the information has been transported safely. This two-step process helps reduce the risk of transition problems.
6. Remember The Backlinks
Backlinks are considered one of the most important ranking factors. They help you gain trust and authority, and can have a big impact on your rankings.
You need to collect and analyze all of the statistics related to backlinking. Identify the most successful backlinks and the most authoritative websites first. It is a good idea to contact them personally and ask them to change the links. It might not be possible to contact and convince everyone, so focusing on the most important links is wise.
7. Make Sure Every Page has Titles and Meta Data
Titles and meta description have a big impact on SEO and click rates. These two components communicate the purpose of the page to Google search engine bots, which allows Google to rank them more effectively.
Title and meta descriptions also help visitors understand what to expect. If they see a good title and description with a brief insight into the contents of the web page, they’ll be more likely to click on the link.
8. Create Site Maps
You need to create two types of sitemaps. One is for both Google and your visitors and is made up of HTML code. The other is an XML sitemap that is solely designed for search engines. It will help Google bots crawl better and understand the site structure well.
You can submit your XML sitemap to Google through the company’s webmaster tools.
9. Update Your Robot.txt File
The Robot.txt file shows Google which pages you don’t want it to crawl and index. This is done for two different reasons. You can use Robot.txt file to block your new website while it is being tested. You can also use it to keep some pages invisible to the search engines.
Make sure your robot.txt file is updated to match your new website’s structure.
10. Allow A Transition Period
Don’t delete the old domain name and redirects immediately after the new site is launched. You should keep them active for at least 180 days.
This allows Google ample time to sort, index, and rank your new website pages. If you don’t allow this transition period, your rankings will drop sharply until the new site is indexed. Some businesses don’t recover from this drop.
These ten tips should help you keep your SEO strategy intact and ensure your new website has a good ranking. With some caution and the right planning, it is possible to migrate to a new website without harming SEO.