If you are redesigning your website, you absolutely need to take SEO into consideration. As any SEO optimization service will tell you, failing to take SEO into consideration when doing a redesign can easily wreak havoc on your search engine rankings, which in turn is bad news for your bottom line. To avoid disaster and preserve your site’s search engine rankings, be sure to keep the following tips in mind.
Prioritize the pages that are performing best. When redesigning your website, do research to figure out which pages are getting the most traffic and prioritize these pages during the redesign process. These pages should remain top level, and shouldn’t be sub-categorized, as this could hurt their performance.
Create a URL redirect guide. When you are overhauling a website, this is one of the most important search engine optimization tips to keep in mind, If you are planning on redesigning your website, one of the very first things that you should do is establish a URL redirect guide, especially if you are making significant changes to the overall structure of your website. Make a list of each and every page on your old website and match it up with a new URL so that you can easily create 301 redirects.
Why is a URL redirect guide so crucial when it comes to maintaining search engine rankings during a website redesign? Well, when you create a new URL—even if it is replacing an old URL—it essentially has no SEO value. It doesn’t simply get to piggyback on the authority of your domain as a whole, as search engines rank pages individually. The 301 redirects give these new pages value. If you don’t properly use a 301 redirect to transfer external links and SEO value from your old URLs to your new URLs it will create 404 errors, which are a surefire way to absolutely destroy your SEO strategy. Just a few 404 errors can results in major declines in organic traffic—in some cases upwards of thousands of visitors per a year.
Noindex your test site. Believe it or not, failing to noindex the test site is actually a major cause of many website redesign catastrophes. When you are working on your test site, the absolute last thing you want is for Google, or any search engine for that matter, to index it. Why? If Google indexes the content on your test site, once you launch your new site, all of that content will be considered duplicate. In that case you’re likely to incur SEO penalties, which is very bad news for your website’s search engine rankings. So how can you noindex your test site? Luckily, it is pretty easy. You can either tick the noindex box in your site’s CMS or block the site in the Robots.txt file.
Test before you launch. Make sure that you have your developers test your new website or redesigned website on a staging server to ensure that it doesn’t crash or have any serious bugs or issues. If you do launch a site with a major issue, it will affect user experience, which will in turn adversely affect your search engine rankings.
The bottom line is that it is absolutely critical to take SEO into account when designing a new website. If you are struggling to optimize during a redesign, your best bet is to recruit the help of a professional SEO optimization service.