Web site redesign guidelines: Retaining and bettering web optimization


A brand new web site needs to be a possibility to enhance web optimization, conversion charges and digital advertising and marketing as a complete. Sadly, it can be an web optimization catastrophe if not rigorously managed. 

This text outlines the primary areas you should think about when redesigning a web site to make sure you retain (and enhance) your web optimization.

If retaining and bettering your web optimization is a precedence in your new web site, then your first job is to know the right way to combine web optimization into your new web site from day one. 

As a primer, “web optimization and web site design: How you can construct search engine-friendly websites” will offer you the background information to construct web optimization into the material of your web site redesign. 

A cautionary story

Sustaining site visitors throughout a redesign could be tough.

Google’s John Mueller was requested if there’s a method to forestall site visitors loss throughout a redesign, and he had a powerful, easy reply – no. 

John Mueller tweet on recovering traffic

Throughout my profession, I’ve seen many new, costly, mission-critical web sites which have wholly decimated vital and worthwhile natural site visitors. 

Nevertheless, one challenge has at all times caught with me among the many many horror tales.

The web site was for a small a number of sclerosis (MS) charity. The charity promoted a pure strategy to serving to with MS and, as such, was not well-funded. 

The location had step by step constructed natural site visitors over a number of years however desperately wanted a visible overhaul.

After a protracted web site redesign involving two firms over 12 months, the brand new web site lastly launched. Everybody was tremendous enthusiastic about taking issues to the subsequent degree. 

After which this occurred:

Organic traffic drop for redesigned website

Natural site visitors dropped by over 90%. 

This was not easy turbulence – the site visitors stayed low. 

Pleasure became panic. 

After a month of ready for issues to enhance and receiving no assist from both of the online design companies concerned, we bought the decision and took it on as a professional bono challenge.

To attempt to resolve these points after the very fact is tough. 

It’s onerous sufficient when you think about your natural site visitors from the outset – however to attempt to reverse engineer the issues is way tougher. 

The place web optimization has not been thought of, any variety of issues might make recovering site visitors problematic. 

Luckily, with a lot ache, wailing and gnashing of enamel, we recovered round 90% of the site visitors. But it surely was painful for all concerned. 

Two years later, we helped architect a brand new web site and weave web optimization into the web site planning, enabling the charity to supersede historic natural site visitors. 

With this web site, we have been cautious to ascertain clear web optimization objectives and observe web optimization KPIs, so we understood what labored and used that to tell the web site planning. 

The web optimization web site redesign takeaway is straightforward – failing to plan is planning to fail. 

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web optimization and web site redesign: The fundamentals 

Sustaining (and ideally bettering) your rankings and natural site visitors throughout a redesign has three key parts:

  • An understanding of what works presently together with your web optimization.
  • Data of widespread points that crop up with a redesign.
  • An in depth plan of what’s going to change on the brand new web site.

My recommendation would at all times be to purpose excessive. Don’t simply attempt to retain site visitors. Look to enhance it. Analysis to know each your web optimization strengths and weaknesses

Allow us to have a look at every of those areas in additional element. 

What works presently

In case you are working web optimization campaigns, it’s best to (hopefully) have a good suggestion of what’s working presently: key phrases and matters that rank, pages that usher in natural site visitors and another natural visibility. 

By clearly documenting what works, you possibly can guarantee that is factored into the design and planning for the brand new web site – you possibly can’t rank for one thing that’s not there! 

Frequent points

There are a lot of causes for a web site redesign, and this may be as a lot to do with branding and know-how as it may be with site visitors and lead era. 

Issues that usually can change or be problematic for web optimization throughout a redesign embrace:

  • Content material could be eliminated. (It received’t rank if it isn’t there!)
  • Content material could be modified.
  • Content material might transfer throughout the web site’s hierarchy.
  • URLs might change.
  • Web page-level optimization might change.
  • New content material could be added.
  • New sections could be added to the positioning.
  • New know-how or options could also be used.
  • New technical points could be launched.
  • Inside hyperlink construction might change.
  • The area title might change.
  • The subdomain might change.
  • The protocol might change.

Any of the above may cause points together with your web optimization. And if there are a number of points, similar to content material altering and being moved to a brand new URL, then it will get tougher to diagnose the foundation reason behind issues.

A number of points can multiply your web optimization issues. Altering your web site’s area, internet hosting, CMS and structure in a single go? This may multiply the probability of web optimization issues. 

Have this dialog with the group so you possibly can steadiness the will for change with the necessity to retain and enhance natural site visitors. Bear in mind, you don’t have to do every part directly generally, so decrease the variables. 

Make sure that throughout all web site planning discussions, an web optimization stakeholder is concerned and armed with data on what works and have to be factored into the brand new web site. 

Get web optimization in on the strategy planning stage – don’t attempt to make things better when growth has began. 

What’s going to change with the redesign?

Armed with a information of what works and what can go mistaken, you possibly can assessment the objectives for the brand new web site. 

Two key web optimization objectives needs to be:

  • To protect the present rankings and site visitors.
  • To enhance the rankings and site visitors.

Ideally, you’ll have an entire sitemap for the brand new web site that you should utilize to match in opposition to the present web site and create mappings for URL strikes.

Web site redesign web optimization guidelines 

Luckily, with some preplanning, avoiding web optimization disasters and sustaining web optimization throughout a web site redesign is fairly easy. 

Following the phases on this web site redesign web optimization guidelines will make sure you protect your treasured web optimization rankings and site visitors. 

Preserve the outdated web site dwell

Preserve the outdated web site dwell on a personal net tackle when you can. Be certain that a crawler can’t entry the positioning. 

Some HTTP authentication is finest, however having the outdated web site to check with if you hit a snag generally is a godsend. 

Some or a part of the positioning will typically be on the internet archive, however having the true factor is approach higher.

Save crawl information

Save a crawl of the outdated web site, even in case you have the positioning on a temp URL. Screaming Frog is nice for this, and once more, you possibly can load up the outdated web site crawl if it’s worthwhile to do any evaluation.

Don’t repair what isn’t damaged

Preserve issues the identical the place you possibly can – significantly URLs. In the event you can maintain the URL construction and web page names the identical, there may be approach much less that may go mistaken. 

If you need to make modifications, so be it. However ensure that they’re warranted for the higher good, not simply completed for the heck of it. 

Bear in mind, you don’t have to maintain issues that aren’t working. 

Arrange 301 redirects

Redirecting outdated URLs to new ones needs to be the primary job in your record. If doable, maintain content material on the duplicate URLs when redesigning a web site. 

As an example, a WordPress or Shopify redesign can maintain the identical URL construction. That is fascinating. If not, you want a spreadsheet of all URLs on the outdated and new websites to implement and check your 301 redirects. 

When the brand new web site is dwell, it would be best to crawl the outdated record of URLs (one other time that saved crawl turns out to be useful) to make sure every part 301 redirects appropriately.

Keep your content material

The place you may have content material that performs effectively, you’ll wish to decrease modifications (or enhance it). 

There will likely be loads of alternatives to tweak your content material in its new house after it’s listed and ranked, however for now, purpose to attenuate the variables of change.

Optimize for on-page parts

Crawling your outdated web site will will let you simply export all key on-page parts: web page titles, meta descriptions, headers, and many others. 

The place the positioning is effectively optimized, maintain these parts the identical. 

Doc your backlinks and the place URL modifications are made. Try to replace these hyperlinks – analysis in Google Search Console and the standard hyperlink index instruments. 

Upon getting a listing, contact the web site managers to replace these the place doable. You need to have a 301 in place, so don’t lose any sleep over this, however up to date backlinks will help get the brand new web site listed and rating shortly.

Be conscious of any modifications to the inner hyperlink construction. Once more, your historic crawl information could be useful right here. 

When you have pages that had hundreds of inside hyperlinks beforehand however are actually barely linked, then this could affect the rankings for that web page.

Replace your XML sitemap

Replace your XML sitemap and submit it to Google and Bing.

We wish our 301s, web page construction, navigation and XML sitemap to align and point out the brand new web site construction to assist engines like google perceive the modifications shortly.

Monitor rankings

You may count on some fluctuations, however you have to be again at a baseline inside a month or so of launch (ideally sooner). 

When you have points, examine them now to determine and resolve them. Typically, with extra important websites, it may take longer for deeper pages to be recrawled, so be conscious of this.

Monitor natural site visitors

For bigger websites, you possibly can by no means rank-track each doable key phrase that drives site visitors, so additionally monitor site visitors to key pages to make sure you see enhancements. 

You may evaluate a easy earlier than and after utilizing Google Search Console that may clearly doc any drops so you possibly can take motion. 

Do a technical web site audit

Ideally, use a technical web site audit software to offer proactive data on any technical points.

Use Google Search Console

Google Search Console retains bettering and offers you diagnostic data straight from Google. Right here you possibly can observe:

  • Indexing.
  • Sitemaps.
  • Web page expertise.
  • Cellular usability.
  • Merchandise.
  • Enhancements.
  • Hyperlinks.

When you have issues, the data right here will help you observe and remediate them. 

Retain and enhance your web optimization throughout a redesign

The essential issue right here is planning. 

New web sites fail in some ways, however at all times resulting from an absence of diligent planning. 

web optimization failures in web site redesigns are, in our expertise, almost at all times all the way down to an absence of planning and a transparent and well-articulated web optimization plan for the brand new web site. 

Make sure that web optimization is factored into the web site redesign course of, and you may launch your new web site confidently. 

Opinions expressed on this article are these of the visitor creator and never essentially Search Engine Land. Workers authors are listed right here.