So, you’re finally ready to tackle that site redesign you’ve been considering for quite some time. Congrats!
This is likely the right choice for many reasons, especially if your site no longer communicates the brand, voice, look or feel of your company, or if you’ve recently added new products and service lines.
Planning a website redesign can be an extremely exciting process. After all, you have a blank canvas for your brand!
That said, it’s important to ensure that while you’re focusing on your site’s new design, you’re not neglecting SEO. You want to ensure the end product is a mobile responsive site with a clean URL structure and optimized content, all while protecting any existing link equity you may have.
…Tall order, eh?
Setting the foundation for a successful SEO program during your site redesign will ensure that more visitors find their way to your site, and that they’re more likely to be converted into valuable leads.
Here are five things to consider prior to and during the redesign process to maximize your ranking potential:
Conduct an SEO Technical Audit
Imagine SEO as a pyramid. The base of that pyramid would be technical SEO, right? Ensuring that your site is technically sound should be the basis of any SEO program, and should also be the basis of any site redesign as well.
Having a technical audit completed prior to a redesign is a very smart move. It can help you identify the strengths, weaknesses, risks, and opportunities with your current website and help drive recommended changes for the new site.
Technical audits can be overwhelming, so in many cases it can be a good idea to bring in an outside expert to ensure that everything goes smoothly.
Understand the variables
As you head into your redesign, make sure you are clear on all of the variables. Will the URL structure change? Will new pages be created? Will pages be eliminated? Each and every variable is important. For example, if URLs are changing it’s important to have a redirect plan in place, mapping old URLs to new URLs.
Minimizing the variables will put you in a better place post redesign.
Content is king
I know, we hate this overused phrase too. But in this case, it is true! Understanding your most important keywords and optimizing accordingly is crucial as you create content maps for the new site.
That means you need to clearly identify your most important pages (thanks to Google Analytics for making this so easy!) and then study the existing content on these pages. Does it need to be updated? Can you improve optimization for your core to business keywords?
These considerations will be key in ensuring the most important pages are still ranking high and driving traffic to your newly redesigned site!
(Image Source: https://unsplash.com/search/laptop?photo=RKz2iYpKliY)
Preserve your links
Inbound links are crucial for building authority and rankings in the search engines. Losing inbound links will hurt your rankings, and a slight change in URL structure could cause you to lose links.
Not to worry – there is a way to avoid this! Use tools like Open Site Explorer to perform an inbound link analysis, and to gain understanding about where your links are coming from. Be sure your development team knows about them, too!
In addition, if your URL structure is changing or a page with many inbound links is moving, make sure to utilize 301 redirects to ensure you keep that link power.
Set up Search Console, and USE it!
Google provides some amazing free tools, one of which is Google Search Console. If there’s one tool you NEED to be using, it’s this one! It allows users to verify ownership of a site and analyze diagnostics, and they tell you when there is a problem with your website – for free!
If you are changing domains, there is even a section where you can tell the engines about the move.
ProTip: Bing has one too, called Bing Webmaster Tools.
Even still, your site rankings may drop shortly after your site redesign.
Sometimes, even when you have done everything correctly, you will see a slight dip in rankings and traffic after a redesign. This is normal! The search engines may need a bit of time to adjust to the changes, especially if they were drastic.
Google may seem fancy, but remember, it’s still just a robot!
However, if things are done correctly you will most likely bounce right back…maybe even better than before! For that reason, integrating SEO into the redesign process is always a good idea.
What else would you add to our list of key SEO considerations? Leave a comment below and let us know!
Are you starting to think about hiring a firm for your new website? Or, could you benefit from some SEO support during your website redesign? We have a team of designers and developers and SEO professionals who can help! Contact us to learn more about your services and how we can help you.