SEO Strategy during Website Redesign
Redesigning a website can be chaotic. You have to recreate the online look of your business, ensure a smooth change for users, and occasionally move the domain and hosting as well. That is probably why many business owners who redesign their website forget one critical aspect: prior search engine optimization efforts. Depending upon the type of transfer from old to new site, your site redesign could have huge repercussions on your search traffic. That is why you need to have a search specialist on hand when you update your site to ensure you can maintain your search standings and traffic.
Here are some common challenges you might face when redesigning your site.
What are some common website redesign challenges?
- Domain Name Changes – If you are moving your domain over to a new site then you have to be aware that the search engines might not pick up on that change. This means you need to be extra vigilant to ensure that you do not lose any search traffic, because your domain name changed. If you do not notify Google of the changes properly, they could perceive your new site having duplicate content.
- Changes to Permalink Structure – Sometimes problems happen when you do not even change your domain name. For example, if you are doing a website redesign that changes your URL permalinks, you could face a number of search problems in the future.
Take Shout for example. One of our recent posts was: https://www.shoutagency.com.au/inbound-lead-generation-for-ecommerce-sites/
However, if we decided to add the date into the permalink structure it would be: www.shoutagency. com.au/6/2015/inbound-lead-generation-for-ecommerce-sites/
Sounds innocent right?
Unfortunately, Google considers these two different pages. That means your content could be seen as duplicate, and your original page with all of the search juice was de-indexed by your site. Therefore, you need to ensure your web site redesign is search friendly.
Setting up the Right SEO Processes for Your Website Redesign
First, create a list of all of the URLs on your website currently.
Use a free tool like Screaming Frog to spider all of the links, images, CSS, scripts, and apps on your site from an SEO perspective. Screaming Frog “slice and dice the data how you see fit by exporting it into Excel.”
Second, redirect your links. Once the site redesign is finished you need to start redirecting the site links and other SEO aspects to your new permalink structure. A few helpful plugins are: 301 Redirects and WordPress SEO:
Both plugins help you redirect pages to the correct new page, while at the same time notifying Google of this change. You might need to do a lot of this by manually inputting the links into the plugins, but that is the best way to ensure that everything is correct.
Third, make sure your site is indexed. Start testing single pages on your site to see if they appear correctly in Google search. You might want to also use Google Webmaster Tools to see what they say about the link structure.
Fourth, update your inbound linking structure. We have talked exclusively about links on your site so far, we also need to discuss inbound links to your site. One of the ways that webmasters increase traffic is through inbound links from third party sites. Just like you analyzed your own links through Screaming Frog, you need to understand what links bring the most traffic to your site from third parties. You need to perform a link audit see which links you want to redirect.
Start your search with the highest domain authority sites with the greatest relevance to your business first:
– For example, if you have two inbound links you need to determine which one you should work on correcting first to get the most out of your search efforts. Therefore, if one link is from Mashable and another is from Huffington Post you should know which link to correct first. Google looks not only at the authority of the site providing you the link, but also the relevance that site has to your own.
In Shouts’ case, we would want to contact Mashable first, since Huffington Post is not based as much on tech and marketing ideas.
Fifth, have a professional SEO audit. Once everything is moved over, you might want to have a specialist perform a comprehensive SEO audit of your site. Do not underestimate the amount of search engine challenges you can have from the move. It is best to have a specialist determine the strengths and weaknesses of your search strategy on your site now.
Sixth, update Google Webmaster. Once all the work is done on your site make sure you contact Google Webmaster to let them know about all the changes you made to your site. Go to Google Webmasters Change of Address tool in the search console to notify Google of all the changes in the transition. This should be done after everything is moved, so you do not have to let them know more than once.
Redesigning your website should mark a new phase in the growth of your website. That is why you must make sure you take special care not only of your website redesign, but also the search traffic that drives the quality visitors to your site in the first place.
If you do not take the proper precautions you can lose a significant amount of search traffic. If you are in the middle of a website redesign and want to avoid that, please contact us at Shout Agency or view our SEO Melbourne services.