Can you redesign your website without loosing your search rankings?
If done incorrectly, any redesign of your website can significantly hurt your SEO. You have spent years building a notable brand for your business. You don’t want to throw your well deserved reputation away because you didn’t plan the redesign of your website correctly.
The bad news is that it is a complicated process where a lot of things can go wrong.
The good news is that if you are diligent and pay careful attention to detail, you can make the transition to your new site without losing online visibility.
In fact, if you do it correctly, you can actually increase traffic to your business by improving the SEO throughout the redesign process.
If you follow these simple guidelines, you can update your website without destroying your SEO.
The most important thing that you can do is keep SEO in mind when making the major decisions about your new sites design. Avoid changing URLs whenever possible, but if you do, make sure you redirect from the old ones. Don’t throw away valuable SEO content from your previous pages thoughtlessly.
Many people make the switch without a thought for how the structure of their new site will affect their SEO. If you are reading this and have this issue in mind during the design process, you will be ahead of the game already.
Before creating your new site you need to analyze what search engines did and didn’t like about your old site. The first step in doing that is to crawl your site with a tool like Screaming Frog. This will provide you with a complete map of your site’s meta data and structure. You can use this information to make sure your new site matches up.
The next step after this would be auditing your old site using a free online tool like Woorank. This helpful service provides an overview of how SEO friendly your site is according to a variety of criteria. It will help you address any problems through your redesign and ensure that you keep the elements that are working well for your current website.
One common mistake people make during the redesign process is allowing Google to index their test site. Adding a “noindex” tag to the header of each page of your test site will prevent it from showing up in any search engines. Just remember to remove the tag from any code you copy over into your new live site. Many platforms have simplified this process with an easy “Don’t index this site” box that you can check in your site’s CMS.
If you are ambitious you can block the site in the Robots.txt file as well, but that can be slightly more challenging for the less tech-savvy.
When you begin creating your new test site, you should crawl it and analyze it just like we did with your old site. You will then use this information to compare the two and figure out how the changes will affect your SEO.
During this transition it is important to implement a functional 404 page that can direct your readers towards helpful areas of your site when they stumble upon broken links.
Finally, when your new site goes live, monitor how it compares in the search rankings for all of your major keywords. Make sure to keep as much as your existing historical content live as possible, as search engines give credit to sites with a long track record.
Following these steps should allow you to update your website without destroying your SEO.