Web site redesign search engine optimisation guidelines: Retaining and bettering search engine optimisation


A brand new web site ought to be a chance to enhance search engine optimisation, conversion charges and digital advertising and marketing as an entire. Sadly, it can be an search engine optimisation catastrophe if not fastidiously managed. 

This text outlines the primary areas you should contemplate when redesigning a web site to make sure you retain (and enhance) your search engine optimisation.

If retaining and bettering your search engine optimisation is a precedence in your new web site, then your first job is to grasp easy methods to combine search engine optimisation into your new website from day one. 

As a primer, “SEO and website design: How to build search engine-friendly sites” will give you the background information to construct search engine optimisation into the material of your web site redesign. 

A cautionary story

Sustaining site visitors throughout a redesign might be difficult.

Google’s John Mueller was requested if there’s a solution to forestall site visitors loss throughout a redesign, and he had a robust, easy reply – no. 

Throughout my profession, I’ve seen many new, costly, mission-critical web sites which have wholly decimated vital and worthwhile natural site visitors. 

Nevertheless, one challenge has at all times caught with me among the many many horror tales.

The web site was for a small a number of sclerosis (MS) charity. The charity promoted a pure strategy to serving to with MS and, as such, was not well-funded. 

The positioning had regularly constructed natural site visitors over a number of years however desperately wanted a visible overhaul.

After a protracted web site redesign involving two corporations over 12 months, the brand new website lastly launched. Everybody was tremendous enthusiastic about taking issues to the following degree. 

After which this occurred:

Organic traffic drop for redesigned website

Natural site visitors dropped by over 90%. 

This was not easy turbulence – the site visitors stayed low. 

Pleasure became panic. 

After a month of ready for issues to enhance and receiving no assist from both of the online design businesses concerned, we acquired the decision and took it on as a professional bono challenge.

To try to resolve these points after the actual fact is troublesome. 

It’s arduous sufficient when you contemplate your natural site visitors from the outset – however to try to reverse engineer the issues is much harder. 

The place search engine optimisation has not been thought-about, any variety of issues might make recovering site visitors problematic. 

Fortuitously, with a lot ache, wailing and gnashing of tooth, we recovered round 90% of the site visitors. But it surely was painful for all concerned. 

Two years later, we helped architect a brand new website and weave search engine optimisation into the web site planning, enabling the charity to supersede historic natural site visitors. 

With this website, we have been cautious to determine clear SEO goals and observe SEO KPIs, so we understood what labored and used that to tell the web site planning. 

The search engine optimisation web site redesign takeaway is straightforward – failing to plan is planning to fail. 

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search engine optimisation and web site redesign: The fundamentals 

Sustaining (and ideally bettering) your rankings and natural site visitors throughout a redesign has three key elements:

  • An understanding of what works presently together with your search engine optimisation.
  • Data of frequent points that crop up with a redesign.
  • An in depth plan of what is going to change on the brand new website.

My recommendation would at all times be to purpose excessive. Don’t simply attempt to retain site visitors. Look to enhance it. Analysis to grasp each your SEO strengths and weaknesses

Allow us to have a look at every of those areas in additional element. 

What works presently

If you’re operating search engine optimisation campaigns, you must (hopefully) have a good suggestion of what’s working presently: key phrases and matters that rank, pages that herald natural site visitors and some other natural visibility. 

By clearly documenting what works, you may guarantee that is factored into the design and planning for the brand new web site – you may’t rank for one thing that’s not there! 

Widespread points

There are various causes for a website redesign, and this may be as a lot to do with branding and expertise as it may be with site visitors and lead era. 

Issues that usually can change or be problematic for search engine optimisation throughout a redesign embody:

  • Content material might be eliminated. (It gained’t rank if it isn’t there!)
  • Content material might be modified.
  • Content material might transfer throughout the website’s hierarchy.
  • URLs might change.
  • Web page-level optimization might change.
  • New content material might be added.
  • New sections might be added to the positioning.
  • New expertise or options could also be used.
  • New technical points might be launched.
  • Inside hyperlink construction may change.
  • The area title might change.
  • The subdomain might change.
  • The protocol might change.

Any of the above could cause points together with your search engine optimisation. And if there are a number of points, resembling content material altering and being moved to a brand new URL, then it will get more durable to diagnose the foundation explanation for issues.

A number of points can multiply your search engine optimisation issues. Altering your web site’s area, internet hosting, CMS and structure in a single go? This may multiply the chance of search engine optimisation issues. 

Have this dialog with the group so you may stability the will for change with the necessity to retain and enhance natural site visitors. Bear in mind, you don’t have to do all the things directly usually, so reduce the variables. 

Be sure that throughout all web site planning discussions, an search engine optimisation stakeholder is concerned and armed with data on what works and should be factored into the brand new website. 

Get search engine optimisation in on the strategy planning stage – don’t strive to make things better when improvement has began. 

What’s going to change with the redesign?

Armed with a information of what works and what can go flawed, you may evaluation the objectives for the brand new website. 

Two key search engine optimisation objectives ought to be:

  • To protect the prevailing rankings and site visitors.
  • To enhance the rankings and site visitors.

Ideally, you should have an entire sitemap for the brand new website that you should utilize to check towards the prevailing website and create mappings for URL strikes.

Web site redesign search engine optimisation guidelines 

Fortuitously, with some preplanning, avoiding search engine optimisation disasters and sustaining search engine optimisation throughout a web site redesign is fairly easy. 

Following the phases on this web site redesign search engine optimisation guidelines will make sure you protect your treasured search engine optimisation rankings and site visitors. 

Maintain the previous website stay

Maintain the previous website stay on a personal net tackle when you can. Be certain that a crawler can’t entry the positioning. 

Some HTTP authentication is finest, however having the previous website to seek advice from if you hit a snag is usually a godsend. 

Some or a part of the positioning will usually be on the internet archive, however having the actual factor is means higher.

Save crawl knowledge

Save a crawl of the previous website, even in case you have the positioning on a temp URL. Screaming Frog is nice for this, and once more, you may load up the previous website crawl if you want to do any evaluation.

Don’t repair what isn’t damaged

Maintain issues the identical the place you may – notably URLs. In the event you can preserve the URL construction and web page names the identical, there’s means much less that may go flawed. 

If you need to make modifications, so be it. However be sure they’re warranted for the better good, not simply accomplished for the heck of it. 

Bear in mind, you don’t have to preserve issues that aren’t working. 

Arrange 301 redirects

Redirecting previous URLs to new ones ought to be the primary job in your record. If doable, preserve content material on the duplicate URLs when redesigning a website. 

For example, a WordPress or Shopify redesign can preserve the identical URL construction. That is fascinating. If not, you will have a spreadsheet of all URLs on the previous and new websites to implement and check your 301 redirects. 

When the brand new website is stay, it would be best to crawl the previous record of URLs (one other time that saved crawl is useful) to make sure all the things 301 redirects appropriately.

Keep your content material

The place you may have content material that performs properly, you’ll need to reduce modifications (or enhance it). 

There can be loads of alternatives to tweak your content material in its new house after it’s listed and ranked, however for now, purpose to reduce the variables of change.

Optimize for on-page parts

Crawling your previous website will assist you to simply export all key on-page parts: web page titles, meta descriptions, headers, and many others. 

The place the positioning is properly optimized, preserve these parts the identical. 

Doc your backlinks and the place URL modifications are made. Try and replace these hyperlinks – analysis in Google Search Console and the standard hyperlink index instruments. 

After you have a listing, contact the web site managers to replace these the place doable. You must have a 301 in place, so don’t lose any sleep over this, however up to date backlinks will help get the brand new website listed and rating shortly.

Be conscious of any modifications to the interior hyperlink construction. Once more, your historic crawl knowledge might be useful right here. 

When you have pages that had 1000’s of inner hyperlinks beforehand however at the moment are barely linked, then this may affect the rankings for that web page.

Replace your XML sitemap

Replace your XML sitemap and submit it to Google and Bing.

We wish our 301s, web page construction, navigation and XML sitemap to align and point out the brand new website construction to assist search engines like google perceive the modifications shortly.

Monitor rankings

You’ll be able to count on some fluctuations, however you ought to be again at a baseline inside a month or so of launch (ideally sooner). 

When you have points, examine them now to determine and resolve them. Generally, with extra important websites, it could take longer for deeper pages to be recrawled, so be conscious of this.

Monitor natural site visitors

For bigger websites, you may by no means rank-track each doable key phrase that drives site visitors, so additionally monitor site visitors to key pages to make sure you see enhancements. 

You’ll be able to evaluate a easy earlier than and after utilizing Google Search Console that can clearly doc any drops so you may take motion. 

Do a technical website audit

Ideally, use a technical website audit device to supply proactive data on any technical points.

Use Google Search Console

Google Search Console retains bettering and gives you diagnostic data immediately from Google. Right here you may observe:

  • Indexing.
  • Sitemaps.
  • Web page expertise.
  • Cellular usability.
  • Merchandise.
  • Enhancements.
  • Hyperlinks.

When you have issues, the data right here will help you observe and remediate them. 

Retain and enhance your search engine optimisation throughout a redesign

The essential issue right here is planning. 

New web sites fail in some ways, however at all times because of a scarcity of diligent planning. 

search engine optimisation failures in web site redesigns are, in our expertise, practically at all times all the way down to a scarcity of planning and a transparent and well-articulated search engine optimisation plan for the brand new website. 

Be sure that search engine optimisation is factored into the web site redesign course of, and you’ll launch your new website confidently. 

Opinions expressed on this article are these of the visitor creator and never essentially Search Engine Land. Employees authors are listed here.

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