These are the steps to follow to ensure that your SEO will not be affected by a website redesign
When doing a site redesign there are several things to check to make sure that your rankings and SEO performance will not be negatively affected. Failing to follow all the steps correctly will confuse search engines and this will damage your website’s trust.
There are many reasons why a website redesign is necessary. The most common reasons are:
- You want to change the website design
- You want to do rebranding
- You want to switch to a mobile-friendly theme
In this article we are assuming that you will be keeping the same domain for your website.
1. Setup the New Website on A Temporary URL
It’s always a good practice to build your new website on a temporary URL, work on the new design and when it’s ready you can copy the temporary website to the new domain.
Working directly on your live website is not recommended because a lot of things can go wrong on a publicly visible site which will give a very bad impression of your business.
Also, for SEO purposes, you will need to make sure that your testing website is not indexed by Google to avoid any duplicate content issues.
2. Make a Conversion Based Page Design
A good website has many characteristics but above all, it respects the user by providing them with a friendly interface. The website should be designed to convert your visitors into leads, sales, sign-ups, etc.
3. Create a list of all pages from your OLD website
It is normal to change the URL structure or slug of a page, but it is also of great importance that you let Google and other search engines know about the changes.
Failure to do so will damage your rankings, decrease your domain trust and as a result, you will lose your organic traffic.
The first step is to create a list of all the URLs your existing website has. The easiest way to do that is to take your sitemap and save it as a text file.
4. Create New Pages for Each of Your Old Pages
In most cases changing the website theme or URLs will not have a negative impact. What is more likely to cause problems with rankings is a chance in the web page content.
Dramatically changing the content is not recommended unless you are doing it for pages that don’t have a good ranking and you want to improve them.
To avoid such unpleasant situations when doing a redesign, try to change only items that are related to the design and look and feel of the website and don’t do any changes to the text content.
5. Create Page-By-Page 301 Redirections to Redirect Old URLs to New URLs
If you don’t want search engines to consider the same page with a new URL as two different pages and if you still want any links that point to the original to be transferred to the new URL then you need to do a 301 redirection.
Another reason why you might want to do a 301 redirection, is to ensure that any bookmarks or social media links will still be working when the new website goes live.
6. Switch to the new website
What you should do at this stage is make the switch to the new website all at once.
The alternative way would be to do it in stages, especially when it comes to big websites but Google’s recommendation is to do it all at once since this way will expedite crawling.