If you’ve spent time and effort improving your SEO strategy, you might feel – and even fear – that all of your hard work could go to waste with a website redesign. Keyword (no pun intended) = could. If you’re not careful with how you navigate the SEO realm before relaunching, that might be an unfortunate truth.
Hold on tight & keep your SEO rankings
Relaunching your website without a carefully planned search engine optimization strategy could result in devastating consequences. But, with the right knowledge and preparation, there’s no need to fear losing your street cred in Google.
Set up 301 redirects
It’s common for content from the old site to be reused and repurposed for the new site. You’re redesigning for a reason though, and a big reason is likely that your old information architecture is too unorganized and confusing to be carried over to the new site.
The point of a redesign is to transform your website into a more appealing, useful experience for visitors. Naturally, you’ll want to restructure everything in a way that makes sense for your business structure and aligns with how users expect to find the information they need.
This might mean consolidating and eliminating pages, or spacing out your content across even more pages to make it easily digestible. Either way, there won’t be a 1-to-1 match between the old site and the new site.
That’s where the 301 redirect comes into play.
A 301 redirect is a permanent detour from one URL to another. For example, if the content from web page www.mywebsite.com/service1 now lives on web page www.mywebsite.com/service-package1, you would need to set up a redirect from /service1 to /service-package1.
Once this is complete, it’s also crucial to crawl your site for a complete list of URLs prior to relaunching. This ensures every URL has a home, or redirect, on the new site. Mapping out redirects can be a time-consuming process, but it’s well-worth it considering the consequences of skipping right over something that can save time in the long run for you and visitors to your site.
Crawling your site, planning and confirming redirects is essential for two main reasons:
For sustaining SEO
Redirects transfer your ranking power from one page to another, so the power you built up before your redesign isn’t thrown completely down the drain.
For improving usability
If someone saves or bookmarks a page on your old website and tries to go back to it without a redirect in place, they’ll get a 404 error page – and we all know how frustrating those are. Now, they don’t know where to find the information they thought was important enough to save or bookmark in the first place.
Continue your SEO journey with high-ranking keywords
Just because you’re launching a new website, doesn’t mean you need to toss all of the effort you put into the previous one out the window.
Before redesigning, perform a baseline ranking report that will tell you all of the keywords you’re ranking for in search engines. Use the report to identify which keywords your domain currently ranks well for.
Then, use that data to make an informed decision on which keywords make the cut to include in your new SEO strategy for things like page copy, meta descriptions, title tags and alt text for images.
Plan & Google will reward you
Website redesigns are common practice and necessary to keep up with technological advances, business changes, and user expectations. At the same time, there are steps you should to stay in Google’s good graces to maintain your ranking power.
With thorough planning, organization – and of course, the right, knowledgeable partner – your website redesign can be a lot more seamless than you might think.
You don’t want your effort to date to be wasted, and neither do we. Reach out to us today to talk to a Web Strategist and SEO Specialists about how we can keep your SEO juice flowing.