Do you want to redesign your website while improving your SEO?
Redesigning your website is a great way to give your business a slick, professional new public face. It can completely change the way you interact with your customers, but unfortunately it can also be a real time consuming headache with many different elements to manage. One of the most common issues with a website redesign is a huge drop off in traffic caused by a problem with SEO.
Fortunately, it is very simple to avoid SEO mistakes when redesigning your website. Here is a short list of things to watch out for.
One of the most prevalent reasons for SEO problems after a redesign is that Google is now indexing the dev version of your site instead of the live version. The simple solution for this is to specifically block Google from indexing them. This can be done in two ways. You can add a meta noindex tag to each of the pages in your dev site. The only problem with this is, when you add the code to your main site, you need to remember to remove this tag from all of your pages. If you forget, you will suddenly find that there is a mysterious drop off in visitors to one or two pages of your site. The other method of stopping Google from indexing your dev site is to use a robots directive that blocks all of the staging content.
Another common problem is that there is an issue with your analytics code. There are a few things that can go wrong here. One is that if you create a new profile for most analytics providers, it will erase all of your previous data. This obviously makes it different to track historical trends. Ensure that you are tracking any new subdomains that you are introducing to your site. Finally, check the code itself to make sure that it is complete and accurate after the transition. Screaming Frog and GA Checker are useful tools to look for missing elements of your code.
Avoid changing your URL structure whenever possible. Issues of this type can be very convoluted to diagnose and fix, so in general, the best solution to this problem is to not create it in the first place. If you do have an issue with broken links, a well designed and helpful 404 page will be your best friend. Do your best to point your users toward the most helpful and relevant content on your site.
Finally, a redesign to your website often coincides with a change to your business’s messaging. Significantly changing the content of your site can effect any effective keywords that may have driven traffic to you in the past. This is not necessarily a problem, but it is something to keep in mind. Try to preserve the sections of your site that received the most search traffic, while incorporating the new messaging.
Check your inbound links. Those are the kinds of links that point to your website. Inbound links are very important for purposes of SEO. If you change your URL structure there is a huge chance that you will lose those highly valuable inbound links. Before you redesign your website make a list of inbound links.
Utilize 301 redirects when pointing your old URL’s to you new ones. Use tools like Open Site Explorer to perform inbound analysis.
Checking For Inbound Links Using Open Site Explorer:
You don’t have to worry about using 301 redirects because they will pass PageRank from your old pages to the newer ones. Although using 301 redirects is a good strategy, if there is a way keep the same URL structure if at all possible. It could save you a lot of extra work.
Keep your onsite optimization after you have redesigned your website. If you have 100 well optimized pages on your old website, make sure that you maintain the same level of optimization throughout your new website. If you don’t your search rankings could be damaged. A great tool to optimize your pages is Yoast SEO.
Optimzing Your Posts And Pages With Yoast SEO:
Make sure that you have a Google Webmaster Tool account setup before you start with your website redesign. You will be able to notify Google when you are moving domains. Google Webmaster Tool enables you to monitor your site before, during, and after the redesign. Another perk of using Google Webmaster Tool is that it will let you know if you have malware on your site.
Google Webmaster Tool:
Following these few guidelines can help you to avoid SEO mistakes in the redesign of your new website. That will save you some serious time and money in the long run during an already difficult process.