Are you making major changes to your website and worried about your Google rankings? If not done correctly, a website redesign can hurt SEO and long-term growth. You may be updating your website for improved user experience, better mobile layout, or to keep up with the recent trends. No matter the reason, you’ve put a lot of time and effort into your SEO, and you want to make sure that it doesn’t go to waste!
Why Consider SEO During Redesign?
If you want to keep up with your competitors and position yourself as a market leader, you have to keep up with the market! This means keeping your website up to date as well. If your website has great visibility and gets a lot of organic traffic, you don’t want to lose that. A correctly executed redesign can help improve your SEO rankings even further. A poorly executed redesign will lower your rankings, decrease visibility, and result in less organic traffic.
Even if you’re just trying to change your website aesthetically, keep in mind this could affect your SEO. Here are some steps on how to plan out your website redesign without hurting SEO.
Step #1: Think With SEO In Mind
You have to think in terms of how Google reads websites. When creating a new page, you don’t want to discard the old pages or content. Old pages have built up traffic and authority with search engines over time, and may be giving your website authority you didn’t know about! Deleting these pages will make you start from scratch. Instead, make sure you redirect pages that have content that has been researched, written, and optimized for search engines. Redirecting pages will cause you to lose some link equity, but you’re are essentially telling Google to transfer the rank and authority to your new site.
Tip #2: Audit your Website
A website audit will look for things that you may have missed. This includes missing or incomplete metadata, keyword optimization, broken links, duplicate pages, and more. You also want to understand what your old website structure looks like so you can replicate it as closely as possible for the new one.
Step #3: No-Index Your New Site
This is an important but often missed step. When building a new site, you’re working with a copy of the old one, which means all your content is duplicated. The images, videos, and pages that have built value on your old site will still be active. But on the new page, they are just copies and don’t hold any value. Luckily, on most website platforms, you can no-index your site easily. On WordPress, you simply click the box labeled ‘Discourage search engines from indexing this site’ on your ‘Settings’ page.
Step #4: Do 301 Redirects
A 301 redirect from old and new URLs will make sure your new URLs don’t lose traffic. Changing the URL’s can lose traffic from inbound links unless you correctly implement the 301 redirects. If you don’t do this correctly, search engines will give people the “404 web page not found” error. A 301 redirect tells search engines that your link has been changed, without hurting your previous SEO work.
Step #5: Crawl Your New Website
Crawling your new website will make sure everything is ready to go before going live. It will give you a breakdown of content, links, and technical data. It will alert you to 404 errors, which indicate that a page no longer exists. It will also help you understand how your new site is structured to make sure that it’s similar to your old one.
Step #6: Index Your New Website
This final step will ensure that search engines can find, crawl, and index your new website. Index your site with the same method you used before to block it.
You’ll want to make sure everything is working correctly, and you’re maintaining your rankings. Go through your rankings and see if the website redesign affected your SEO. You may notice a slight dip, but this will only be temporary. This is also a great time to thoroughly go through your website to make sure everything is working.
When making significant changes to your website, you may be tempted to take down your website temporarily. We do not recommend this unless it’s absolutely necessary. Doing so can severely hurt your rankings and traffic, making your new website fall behind before it’s even published.
When changing your site, that the time to reevaluate your keyword strategy. Are you focusing on some that aren’t helping? Are there some long-tail keywords you’re missing out on? Do some research and find opportunities and weaknesses.
If you’ve successfully completed these steps and still have your rankings, congrats! All of your hard work has paid off. We understand this can become complicated, so if you have any further questions, or are interested in a free consultation, call us at (858) 228-7697 or contact us here.