If you’re thinking of redesigning your website, read this first!

Redesigning your website has associated risks, obviously, you don’t want to lose your Google ranking or miss traffic. You might not know how to retain your place in search engine results pages (SERPs) and your domain authority, at stickee we deal with launching redesigns and it must be done properly to avoid risk.

When moving over to a new website, SEO needs to be part of the redesign process, and this requires a lot of technical and design consideration. All stakeholders should be involved. And don’t cut corners! Deadlines for new site launches often put too much pressure on teams to work fast just so the launch can happen – but is a launch date more important than your hard-earned search traffic? If it is, you may need to rethink your goals…

 

What should you do during the design process?

First, you should never take your site down unless you really, really have to – and if you do, make sure it’s only for a few minutes. Taking your website offline can damage your rankings massively. Many websites choose to do so and replace their usual site with a single page showing a message as ‘Under Construction’, sometimes for several weeks, causing traffic to decline massively before the new site is even launched.

Redesigning your site is the perfect time to review your keyword strategy. Research if you’re missing out on any keywords (especially long tail), and if that’s the case you’ll need to include those in your new site’s design and content.

Speaking of content, you should also take this time to refresh and evaluate your website content and optimise it for SEO. Are your page titles correct? Have you filled in all meta descriptions? Many websites lose their search engine rankings because their older content has lost some of its quality or because the new design had muddled things up – which is the opposite of what should happen with a good redesign! It should mean improvement across the board.

Try to keep your URL structure the same, or as close as possible to the previous one. When you change URLS, your site can lose traffic from inbound links unless 301 redirects are implemented correctly.

Create new sitemaps (HTML and XML)! While you should always have an up-to-date sitemap, it becomes particularly important when you launch a new website design. If any of your content has moved to a new URL, the sitemap can help search engines find it.

Finally, you’ll need to make sure your Google Analytics account has been updated. If you have any goals or events set up for the old site, these will need to be changed and reflect the new website and layout.

After the redesign is complete

Did you follow all the steps above? Great! Now’s time to monitor your traffic, which you can do using Google Webmaster Tools. Some things to do are:

  • Watch the Google Index status, so you can figure out which (if any) of your site pages have been deindexed
  • Check if any website crawl errors are preventing your pages from appearing in search results
  • Watch your traffic (you can also use Google Analytics for this)

After a website redesign or migration to a new site, fluctuation in traffic is natural and can’t be completely avoided. Every website will see a drop after the redesign, but following the correct steps during the process should help you keep at least most of your visitors and Google rankings. If you need more information, come speak to us at stickee or the experts at Float Digital! We’d be delighted to help.

Contributor

Dan Richards – Commercially driven marketing guy with a passion for SEM. Making it happen at stickee – connect with him on LinkedIn.

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