How to Successfully Maintain Your SEO Rankings When Redesigning Your Website
You have opted for a website redesign, that’s great! The web environment is ever-changing, and moving with it is indeed necessary. However, you must be very cautious of one essential element: the SEO.
Many people overlook or make the mistake of thinking that a website redesign will not affect their SEO rankings- well, it does and in a huge way.
You can potentially wipe out your entire SEO rankings with a redesign. What this means is you risk losing customers, website information, and the search rankings that can harm your business and brand.
It is, therefore, very crucial that you consider how to maintain SEO rankings and domain authority all through the redesigning process, else you lose everything you worked hard for.
That said, you must be very vigilant during the transition process. This post highlights the necessary steps you need to take to ensure that you maintain your SEO value.
How to Maintain SEO Rankings when Redesigning
To successfully maintain your SEO rankings, you need to pay attention to these three areas:
- What makes your current SEO rankings a success
- Anticipated challenges during the redesign
- Changes that will come with the redesign
These considerations will ensure that you will not only maintain but improve your SEO rankings as well.
Once you have these three areas figured out, it is time for a smooth website transition.
1. Monitor Everything
This is really important. There might be a slipup during the process and not realize it until it already too far into the process that backing is not an option. Save yourself from this tragic turn of events by monitoring everything from the initial step.
So how do you monitor this process?
Simple. Invest in SEO monitoring tools to sniff out the smallest slipup. Keep an eye on:
- Keyword rankings
- Domain authority
- Number of backlinks
- Search engine Organic traffic
- Spam score
- Alexa Global Rank
- Citation Flow
2. Use a Temporary URL
To avoid confusion and disruptions during the migration, set up a temporary URL for the new site. You can do this by copying your old website to the new URL and make the changes.
The key thing here is to no-index the new URL so that it doesn’t appear in search engines. Once the changes are in place, you can make the redesign live.
3. Know Which Pages Bring Massive Traffic
Start by checking your analytics program. Don’t worry if you don’t have one- you can always use Google Analytics, which is absolutely free. Install it and see which of your pages drive the most significant traffic.
Now during the redesigning, you need to have these pages included in your new site.
What key phrases brought traffic to the old site? Make your new content if you have new one, that is, just as relevant as your old one. Using the same URL as in the old site is a good thing in this case.
4. Be Keen on your 301 Redirects
301 redirects are vital when moving to a new site. This is because you have to check which pages were redirected to which page in the old site one the resigning is complete.
Note that you will get 404 errors for those pages if you fail to maintain those redirects. Use web tools for this activity to make things easier.
5. Use Good 404 Pages
The 404 not found message is a necessity during the transition process. An ideal 404 page helps the engines and site visitors to redirect to a page containing pertinent information or to another part of the site.
Add a search bar on the particular page to make the 404 pages user-friendly.
6. Keep Track of Your Backlinks
During a website redesign, every website owner gets concerned about losing all the valuable backlinks they worked hard for.
You can go around this one by collecting usage statistics of your backlinks and ask the owners of those backlinks to link them to your new site. If this doesn’t work, ensure then that the pages with the remaining backlinks have 301 redirects.
7. Maintain the Structures of your Old Website
A dramatic change to your website’s structure is not always a good idea. Customers love familiarity, and a complete structure makeover can confuse some of them.
That said, match the structures between the two sites by using a crawler to map out the basic structure. Once you are done with the transition, use the crawler in the new site to confirm that the structure matches that of the old one.
8. Do not Make the Changes on a Live Website
The biggest mistake you can make is redesigning your website when it is live. A website redesigning process can be risky by itself; therefore, don’t make things more complicated by working on a live website. This action can frustrate the website visitors, and this is something no website owner wants.
The most convenient way to transition is to first work on the new website on a separate domain then swap it with the old one once it is complete.
9. Fix every Detail before Going Live
The redesign is complete, and it is time to transition. Do not be in a rush to go live yet. You need to confirm that every detail is as it should.
Details to finalize on include:
- Images- you need to optimize the images. Maintain the size of the new images and add “alt” on each of them.
- Confirm the sitemap- you should check the sitemap’s status after the redesigning. Submit and see if you get any 404 errors.
- Check the robots.txt to ensure that it’s working for crawlers to read your website.
After the Transition
Once you have gone live with the completed redesign, you need to compare the bounce rates between the new and old sites. A drastic increase in the rate means the customers are dissatisfied, and you need to make instant changes.
While a website redesign can sometimes be a complicated process, it doesn’t have to be so with the right guidelines. The above suggestions will make the transition a lot easier and guarantee a smooth operation of proceedings.