How to protect the gains you made in SEO after a website redesign.
If you’ve decided to give your website a new look and have opted for a redesign for improved navigation and traffic, you need to do it right. Done right, a website redesign can boost sales and SEO. But if you get it wrong, then there’s a real possibility of your existing SEO suffering. Your SERP results may nosedive.
Steps for proper SEO of a website that’s redesigned
- A new website is an opportunity for better URLs that, when used with relevant post titles, can boost SEO. If the new website is going to use different URLs, then you need 301 redirects to inform the search engines about the changed location of the content. Search engines can then transfer existing rank to the new URL. It takes time for search engines to recognize the change, but the page won’t be beginning from scratch.
- Prepare a database of all the backlinks pointing to the site. Google’s search console is a free tool and will provide you with a downloadable sheet. Use it. It would be great if you can get all the backlinks to redirect to the new pages but that’s not always possible. Instead, focus your efforts on contacting the blog owners with the most relevant pages, and good DA/PA scores. If they can change the URL on your request, then that’s the best result.
- As with URLs and page titles, a redesign is also an opportunity to get the meta descriptions right. Go over the meta descriptions, your choice of keywords, and long tail terms. You can drive more traffic to the site with SEO-friendly meta details.
- The new website must have a sitemap. It will speed up the indexing of the new URLs and get SEO on track quicker. Sites can easily be submitted to Google and Bing webmaster tools for indexing. An HTML sitemap for users and an XML sitemap for the search engines is a good idea.
- Design a user-friendly 404 error page for broken links that may appear during the creation of the new website. A good 404 error page goes a long way in mitigating the disappointment of not finding what you’re looking for. A search box and a link to the home page should be added to the 404 page. At the same time, the page must return HTTP code 404 so that the search engines know that the link is broken. Track 404 links and communicate with the referrers to ensure that the wrong link is replaced by a correct one.
- The Robots.txt is not essential but if your old website had one and there are pages that you don’t want crawled, then add one to the new site. If the website is not ready to go live and you’re running tests, then you may not want it crawled. You can instruct search engine spiders via the Robots.txt file not to crawl the page.
- Very importantly, if along with creating a new website, you are also moving the content to a new domain, then keep the old domain name for at least six months and use Google’s Change of Address tool. This will allow Google’s search engine spiders to index each page correctly.
Other must-do things for a smooth transition to a new website without rocking the SEO boat –
- Shift to HTTPS, if you haven’t already. Google treats HTTPS security as a ranking signal.
- Consider transferring only relevant pages with great SEO value and traffic, and jettison deadweight pages with poor relevance. Those URLs can be redirected to the parent category page.
- Test the new website for mobile friendliness and quick loading. Use Google’s Web.dev tool for guidance.
We are an SEO firm that builds websites. We can build a new website that will not lose any of the SEO aspects that you’ve worked hard to generate. Contact us for guidance on how you can flip your website into a new look.