SEO after website redesign
When working on a website redesign, consider how to maintain SEO rankings and domain authority before, after, and during the process. When creating a new website design, the aesthetics of the website isn't the only thing to worry about. During this process, you need to take the time not only to maintain your SEO, but also to look for ways to improve it. Many companies often make the tragic mistake of believing that a website redesign has no SEO impact, but it absolutely does. If you don't proceed carefully, you could ruin all of your SEO efforts so far. There are both technical and non-technical areas to consider in larger web design and development activities.
You need to take specific steps to make sure that you don't compromise your SEO quality when you move from your old website to the new one. In this post, you will learn more about SEO redesign best practices and how to make sure you don't lose SEO value.
SEO Website Redesign - Key Areas to Consider
There are three main areas to consider when redesigning your website in order to maintain your SEO rankings:
- What is working with your current SEO efforts?
- Common challenges that can arise when redesigning
- Changes that will come with the new website
If you focus on these three areas, you will be able to identify your SEO weaknesses so that you can improve on these areas. In addition to maintaining your ranking, you should also work to improve it.
How to Monitor Your SEO & How to Know What's Working
If you are currently monitoring your rankings and campaigning on these keywords then you should have a lot of data to analyze. In particular, you should know: the keywords that you are ranking on, the mapping for each keyword, its exact position in the rankings, and the pages that are bringing the highest organic traffic.
Common SEO challenges when redesigning a website
When working on a website redesign, there are many issues that can crop up if you focus on rebranding, improving the usability, and updating the backend. Here is a list of areas that could cause problems:
- Content that will be removed
- Content that changes
- The content can be moved based on the navigation or the sitemap of the new website.
- URLs can change
- Page-level optimization changes
- Adding new content, new sections, new technology, and new features
- New technical questions
- Editing of the internal link structure
- Changes to the domain or subdomain
- Protocol changes
All of these areas can affect SEO when redesigned. With so many challenges possible, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what needs to be addressed. One of the biggest challenges would be a domain change. The other areas are also important, and the more changes you have, the more complex it becomes to maintain SEO.
How to Redesign Your Website and Don't Lose SEO Rankings Checklist
Before starting your redesign, it is crucial to understand the best practices that will enable you to maintain your SEO rankings. Consider these redesign parameters before you begin:
Perform an SEO audit on your current website
You should start by doing an SEO audit of your website and understanding all of the keywords you are trying to rank for and which pages are associated with them. Beyond the redirects, you should also take care of the pages and specific on-page optimization that go from the developer to the live site. This is especially helpful if your website has a lot of dynamic content.
The importance of historical web crawls
Saving crawl data from the old website is a good idea. You can use a tool like Screaming Frog to load and analyze the old site crawl. If something disappears, use web.archive.org to see the old structure and content.
When you crawl your old website, you can export all of the key elements on the page, including meta titles, meta descriptions, alt tags, and headings. Again, if it's working well, try not to change it too much unless there have been significant changes to your company's products or services. You should also think about pages and specific on-page optimization that goes from development to live site. This is especially helpful if your website has a lot of dynamic content.
Set up 301 and 302 redirects
First and foremost, you need to redirect old URLs to new ones. If you make major changes to the permalink structure, you'll need a table with all the necessary redirects. Once you've got the new site live, search the old list of URLs to make sure everything is redirected the way it should.
When to use 301 redirects
A 301 redirect is a permanent redirection from one URL to another. This redirection is done for website visitors and search engines. In many cases a 301 redirect can be better than a temporary one for SEO as it also conveys the inbound links, around 90 to 99% of the link equity. In most cases, this is the preferred method of implementing redirects on your new website.
Set up 302 redirects
A 302 redirect is temporary and redirects users and search engines to the desired page for a short time until it is removed. Since it is temporary, it should be used while a webpage is refreshing so that users can have a seamless experience. Lots of 302 redirects can actually harm your SEO so be careful when using them.
How to maintain the page structure during a redesign
Page structure has a lot to do with your SEO ranking. That's because it ensures a great user experience because they can find things they're looking for with less work. The more attractive your page is to the users, the more attractive it is to the search engines. If your website has poor click-through rates and low dwell times, search engines will place it poorly.
When you add a page, keep the same structure. For example, you can have websitename.com/solutions/solution1. If you add another solution, keep it under the parent page solutions.
There's really no reason to ditch your current page structure and create something entirely new unless your company has changed their offering.
Remember to update the sitemap XML.
Update your XML sitemap and submit it to search engines. Your 301s, page structure, navigation, and XML sitemap should all be consistent and reflect the new site structure.
Check and update your website's backlinks
Backlinks are critical to improving your SEO position. Check all the backlinks pointing to your website and if you find them pointing to pages that you are removing or modifying then make an effort to contact those websites to update the backlinks. You can also create redirects if the volume doesn't allow you to do so.
Internal link structure
Be very aware of the changes you are making to the internal link structure. Here, too, crawl data can be of help. If you make changes to a lot of urls you will have broken links in your content so you will need to do an audit. There are plug-ins that can make this easier as you don't want to delete any of them as it could have negative effects.
Preserve quality SEO content
If you have content on pages that work well, leave it as it is. Minimize any changes to high level content. Maintaining image and video SEO is also a very important step to keep in mind when redesigning your website. When you transfer this content to the new website, make sure that all metadata and file names remain unchanged.
Use the Google search console to check your website
Google search console
You can find diagnostic information directly from Google here. You can also keep track of 301s and 404s to make sure you did everything right. Take a look at the Search Traffic> Search Analytics tab. There you can find a lot of great information about clicks, impressions, click-through rate and average position.
Monitor your rankings and organic traffic
A certain fluctuation is to be expected when the website is redesigned. You should create a master keyword table that shows where you rank for each keyword each month and which page that keyword maps to. It's impossible to keep track of every keyword for your website, so you should also keep an eye on which pages have high organic referrals.
Test, Test Again - Technical Site Audits and more
Never assume that the live site will perform as well as the dev site. You've probably invested a lot of time and resources testing, but things can change in the real world. You can use a technical site audit tool like Moz, Ahrefs, or DeepCrawl which should give you some insight into technical issues.
Also, consider running the website through a cellphone-friendly testing tool to see how it performs. Also, check the speed of each page with a page speed checking tool. Finally, don't forget about the schema markup on the website.
How to Avoid These SEO Website Redesign Mistakes
Now that we've covered everything you should be doing, here's a warning to avoid making mistakes that could cost you your SEO rankings.
Don't start from scratch with content: if you have ranked content, don't give it up. Content that is not moved to the new website can cost you in the rankings.
Don't forget about redirects: when visitors receive a "page not found" error message, it means pages have fallen out of Google's index.
Don't forget the internal linking; Not transferring this to the new website is a mistake to avoid.
Don't forget to update outbound links as needed.
Don't overlook sites that have high rankings and multiple backlinks. You can use Ahrefs to find and receive or broadcast these.
Redesigning a website is an action most businesses should take as part of their branding process. You should follow these best practices to maintain SEO rankings after a website redesign. You don't want to have to start over like your website never existed. Follow this comprehensive checklist to ensure that nothing is left out.
If you have any questions about maintaining hard-earned SEO rankings after a website redesign, don't hesitate to contact us with any questions or to help us plan your new website.