One concern we hear often from potential and new clients is whether redesigning their website might have negative effects on their current site’s search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine rankings. And that’s certainly a legitimate worry. After all, the point of investing in a site redesign is to increase your traffic and sales. And some of the things that change with a site redesign do have an impact on SEO.
Fortunately, search engine companies and us web designers know people need to improve their sites periodically, so there are workarounds and preventive measures to avoid tanking a website’s performance in the process of making it better. Plus, Google and other search engines reward updated sites that embrace the most current tech trends, as with giving higher rankings to mobile-friendly websites.
Just to give you an idea, here are some of the main precautions that prevent your website redesign from knocking you down in search results or causing other complications:
These provide insights into the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities of your existing site’s design and content. They offer an important guide as to which pages should be migrated, which should be revamped, and which should be ditched.
Site Analytics Review
Similarly, looking over basic website reports identifies which pages attract and hold traffic and which don’t, which calls to action work, and other useful information about site performance. This too helps figure out what elements of your current site should remain and which should go with the redesign.
Crawling and Redirecting
Your existing URLs have built up a reputation with search engines. Sending website crawlers through your site provides a map of it, allowing URLs to be migrated or redirected. This lets the search engines’ own crawlers know things have just moved and been updated.
Inbound Link Analysis
When other reputable sites link to pages on your site, it drives traffic and boosts search engine rankings. You don’t want to kill these links with a site redesign. Your pages with inbound links must be migrated with the same URLs, or something called a “301 redirect” takes inbound traffic to the appropriate place on the new site.
Establishing 301 Redirects
These 301 redirects aren’t just for pages with inbound links, though. They’re for any existing page that has a counterpart on the redesigned site. This allows the new pages to continue enjoying the credibility they’ve built up over time with search engines.
Maintaining On-Page Optimization
If your existing site ranks well for certain keywords and phrases, the site redesign should maintain the on-page SEO that makes it possible. Elements like built-up article banks and keyworded headlines, for example, should be carried over to the redesigned website.
Google Webmaster Tools
This system of tools provides the site analytics mentioned above to understand and optimize your existing and redesigned sites. But it also has a particular function to help protect your SEO with a site redesign: it lets you inform Google that you’re changing domains.