7 Tips On Redesigning Your Website Without Losing SEO
Sometimes it makes perfect sense to redesign your website. The goal is to do it as smoothly as possible and not lose SEO ranking and search engine traffic along the way.
Each redesign is unique and requires its own specific process. However, keeping these 7 tips in mind will make it easier for you to redesign your website without losing SEO ranking.
1. Analyze all website pages
Use Google Analytics and Google Search Console to see what pages of your website are ranked the highest and which ones are visited the most. Center the move around them as those pages should get the shortest, typeable URLs that are easy to remember and share (and don’t forget to setup a 301 redirect – more on that later).
And maybe some of these pages should be featured in prime spots in the newly redesigned navigation panel to get even better traction?
2. Rewrite or combine pages that don’t perform well
Look at the rest of the pages that didn’t make it to the top. See if they can be adjusted in some way to yield better results. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of writing a more engaging copy or switching up the featured image.
Rewriting some copy would also fit right along with the redesign itself, so this shouldn’t be overlooked.
3. Don’t erase any pages and use 301 redirects to permanently redirect renamed pages
Simply deleting pages will create 404 “Page Not Found” errors that will negatively affect rankings and the search engine traffic because you site would be essentially getting smaller and throwing away content.
If the specific content is old or irrelevant, you would want to tell Google that there’s a newer version of this content and redirect Google (and of course, your visitors!) to the new page. That way, if the page had good rankings or it was linked to from other sites, you wouldn’t lose that value, since you’re trying to keep your SEO rankings intact.
But even not-so-hot pages are a part of the internal architecture that contributes to spreading link equity . So use 301 permanent redirects to seamlessly lead visitors to the new URLs while also preserving the SEO ranks of the old URLs.
4. Keep an eye out for 404 errors
A spike in 404 errors is an extremely undesirable outcome of a website redesign process. First, it makes for horrible user experience since site visitors can’t find what they’re looking for (even though Google suggested it in the search results.
This could lead to many users clicking off your page and switching to a competitor.
You can still lower your bounce rate by creating a custom 404 page featuring your most visited pages and including a few words of apology and maybe a nice offer to keep the customer on your website a little longer.
By the way, search engines will downgrade the overall website rating if 404 errors occur too often. Make sure that all old URLs receive appropriate redirects! After that, regularly monitor the Analytics to see if anything has slipped through the cracks.
5. Check for redirect loops and minimize them
A redirect loop occurs if one URL leads to another, and then to another, and then to another until your browser stops loading the page and returns an error message. As with 404 errors, that will immediately negatively affect your bounce rate.
Redirect loops also have serious ramifications for SEO. The maximum number of redirects followed by Google’s crawlers is often around 16, so even permanent 301 redirects will be ineffective in transferring SEO rankings if the loop is too long.
6. Make sure that internal links lead where they are supposed to
It is quite common to forget to update the internal links on the pages of your website.
It’s easy to remember to update your main navigation, but you may have a blog with many articles that have links in the content.
This mistake can cost you a drop in SEO rankings as the process of how the search crawler indexes your website is changed.
Of course, redirects could work, but it would be better to update it directly instead. Best case scenario, it’ll create an unnecessary chain of redirects that affects the page load speed.
Worst case scenario, broken links will lead to a 404 error. Make sure that the internal architecture of the website is intact and the changes don’t reduce the search engine’s ability to crawl the website.
7. Monitor the changes
It is extremely important to pay attention to Analytics once the redesign is complete. Make sure to submit the new sitemap of the redesigned website and see if it gets indexed properly. Also, pay attention to the data as visitors search for modified content and adjust to the changes.
Redesigning a website can be a challenge for a business. It is a unique complex process that depends entirely on the business needs and the initial issues with the original website. Especially if it’s a large website with a lot of content, the redesign has to be done properly to make no harm to the existing rankings and improve website SEO long-term. Hire a web design agency to make sure that the process goes smoothly and you don’t lose any of the rankings that took so much time and effort to build.