Protect Your SEO Ranking During a Website Redesign
If you’re planning to get a new website, you’re probably doing it to enhance your brand, to help convert visitors better, and maybe even to help you rank better. Whether your plan involves a redesign or a move to a new domain name, it’s essential that you plan ahead to avoid losing any SEO rankings you’ve earned.
In this blog I’ll cover the most important things to watch out for, and I’ll even tell you how to do them yourself. However, if you want to make sure everything is done correctly, I recommend getting a full SEO analysis done by a professional web design company before your new site goes live. The analysis can also help uncover additional opportunities that could help push your site up the ranks.
Protecting Your Website Pages
Your website pages will be the most affected by a website redesign. URL changes, and removal of pages can devastate your SEO rankings if you don’t take the right steps to protect them.
Step 1: Audit Every Page
It’s important to know what pages you have on your site and what URL each page is on. Even if you’re not changing your domain name, URLs can be changed during programming. Even subtle changes can render the page invisible to the search engines.
If your site is small, you can visit each link manually and note the URL. If you have a larger site, or an ecommerce website you can use tools like Screaming Frog that will scan your site and remove some of the manual labor.
Step 2: Create 301 Redirects
Once you have a list of pages and URLs you’ll be able to create 301 redirects. 301 redirects basically tell the search engines that a page they used to know the location of has been moved to a different URL. You need to map every page on your site with a 301 to a corresponding page on your site. If you’re removing a page form your old site, point the 301 to a page that has similar content so it remains relevant to site visitors.
Because it’s important that 301s be created accurately, I would recommend that you let your website designer implement these for you. Just make sure that they are implemented in the first place. If this is something you want to take on, here is a nice video tutorial.
Analyze Your New Site
You should have Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) installed on your new website to help you monitor its performance after it goes live. GWT has a dashboard to show you how many pages have been indexed, and if there were any crawl errors reported.
By keeping your eye on the health of your new website right after launch, you’ll be able to catch and correct issues before they erode your hard-won rankings.
Keep an eye on these Google Webmaster Tools Reports:
Number of Pages Indexed
If you completed the website inventory, you should have a good idea of how many pages are on your site. Make sure that the search engines are finding all of your pages.
- Mobile Usability
Mobile-friendliness is a new algorithm Google introduced in April of this year. Besides just making your site responsive, there are many factors involved to make your site meet Google’s high standards.
- Broken Links
GWT will tell you which pages have broken links. Take quick action to add 301’s or fix the link.
- Crawl Errors
If Google’s bot can’t crawl your pages because of errors, GWT will notify you. Again, it’s important that you find and fix the errors as quickly as possible.
Enjoy Your New Website
With a little extra effort, you can make sure that your new website doesn’t cost you good rankings. Then you can enjoy your new website and all the SEO traffic it brings. If you need an SEO analysis, give us a call. We’d love to help deliver qualified traffic to your business.