There are many reasons why you might decide it’s time for a website redesign. Your current site is outdated, it doesn’t convert particularly well, you’re re-branding, or hey you might just fancy a change! Either way, you want to make sure that when launching your new site, you don’t destroy any kind of search presence you’ve previously built up in the process.
This is a common problem that we come across – site owners come to us wondering why their Google rankings and organic traffic have dropped off the face of the earth. The answer? More often than not it’s because SEO wasn’t considered at any point during the redesign / migration process.
We won’t go too much into the technicalities, but here’s some things consider if you’re looking at investing in a new website design. On the other hand, here’s what to look out for that could indicate an oversight or lack of advice when your new site was launched.
Don’t choose style over substance… you can have both
If your current site ranks well, then Google clearly likes something about your content, its structure and what you’re providing the visitors.
You can’t simply remove vital pages and information in favour of design. For example, you might be thinking about including information about all of your services on one long parallax style page. Though this may look impressive, if you’ve previously displayed this content on separate pages it could be detrimental in terms of SEO. Don’t go for style over substance – keep all of your core pages and then some. You can still make them look just as great.
There will be times when removing the odd page is necessary in which case these old pages will need to be redirected to somewhere relevant. We’ll discuss this further on..
A site redesign is a great time to think about how your site can be structured in the best way possible for search engines to crawl. This might mean adding more categories, subcategories, service pages etc, which will only add to its effectiveness from both a conversion and search perspective.
Once you’ve ensured that your new structure isn’t sacrificing important pages, it’s time to review the content..
Cut content with caution
Google needs content, so if your site already ranks well then your content is probably something to do with it. There’s nothing wrong with rewriting the copy for your new site, but be sure to keep it relevant, talk about the product/service in question and provide value.
If you want to significantly cut down on and simplify your content, do so with caution and check there’s still enough to give Google some context.
If you have a blog, make sure it’s carried over along with all blog posts. These are just as important.
Don’t forget the important stuff you can’t see
If you (or someone else) has previously worked on your site from an SEO perspective then it’s likely to be pretty well optimised already. Here we’re talking about the technical, best practice elements that you can’t necessarily see but are so important for Google. If this is the case then you need to make sure this is all being carried across to the new site.
If you’ve not invested in search before then now is a great time to start. Launch your new site with all the fundamentals in place and you’re likely to see your site’s search presence increase even further. If you’re not sure about this, Run2 can help you out..
Avoid dead ends
If you’ve re-structured your site in any way then you’re likely to have some pages that no longer exist, or page URLs that have changed slightly.
The web address for these pages will still exist however – probably in Google’s index, linked from other sites or even bookmarked. This means that people can still access this link, so you need to make sure that if someone tries to access this page they aren’t taken to a ‘not found’ dead end, they are taken to an equivalent page – the most relevant page on your new site.
Dead ends, or ‘404 errors’ can be harmful from an SEO perspective – if there are several links pointing to this now non existent page, as soon as Google clocks the error it will essentially make these links worthless – any sort of boost they were giving the site previously in terms of search will be lost.
Not only that, it doesn’t give off the best impression to your visitors either..
Avoid unwanted sneak previews
As your new site is being built, it will be hosted on a link separate to your domain. It is essential that this link is kept hidden from Google. Ensure that whoever may be developing your site has blocked this from potentially happening. If something like this slips the net, Google can start to index your unfinished site, driving unwanted traffic and causing duplicate content issues that can heavily affect your search presence.
If you’d like any further information on launching a brand new website whilst maintaining your existing search presence, give us a call and we’d be happy to help. We can also advise on the best way to recover from said nightmare should it be too late..