Website Redesign – How to Keep Your Search Rankings
So you are looking for a website redesign? Makes sense, a lot of companies are realizing that their site that is a few years old is no longer current. A lot has changed when it comes to the user experience so a new site can really help your business stand out and convert sales.
The problem with some website redesigns is that while your new site looks great and has better functionality, you may drop significantly in search results if you aren’t careful. The last thing you want to do is lose years of building up your ranking with Google and other search engines.
There are a number of actions you can take to help keep your rankings high while you redesign your website.
Don’t Rush the Process and Make a Plan
If you try and redesign your site too quickly you lose the opportunity to migrate pages slowly. Google can then crawl your site while you redesign which lessens the impact vs. making one major change at a single point in time.
For example, if you plan on changing your page URL’s, you could make those changes while you are in the process of redesigning to similar pages in the current version of your site. That way when you place the new content on the page, Google will already recognize this URL. It is advised not to update the URL’s of all pages at the same time in order to keep your search rankings up.
When you update your page URL’s don’t forget to add in your 301 redirects for each of the pages you change. A 301 will redirect the old URL page name to the new URL page name so that even if the old URL is entered or clicked, the user will automatically be redirected to the new page. This will help Google and other search engines to understand your new structure and ensures that there are no dead links.
Improve Your Site’s Structure
The structure of your site is a major factor in your search ranking. When you redesign your site, there is an opportunity to actually improve your SEO by improving your site’s structure. You can improve both page structure and your overall site’s structure.
There are a number of things you can do to ensure the structure of your page is optimized for SEO. Here are a few key elements to consider:
- Include your big ideas and your keywords/phrases at the top of the page
- Only include only one H1 tag with your keyword/phrase per page
- Create descriptive and topical page titles
- Create captivating meta descriptions that make a user want to click through to your page
- Include an image with a descriptive and topical alt text
In order for a search engine to find and index your site, the content needs to be easy to find, so your site structure needs to be easy to follow. If you have pages that take more than 2 other pages to click through, then your site is likely too layered and complex for both the users and for search engines.
To create a good site structure, keep these things in mind:
- Create a hierarchy of pages that showcase the most important information at the top (making them the easiest to find)
- Make sure your URL structure follows your hierarchy structure. If one page follows another page, make sure that the first page is included in your URL
- Keep your hierarchy shallow. Again, having to click through multiple pages to get to the one you want is a poor user experience and bad for search engine’s ability to index your pages
- Create internal links that help users and search engines know which pages are important and helps users to navigate your site easily.
Once you launch your new site, submit your new sitemap to search engines. Search engines will crawl your site and index it automatically, but submitting your sitemap can help speed up the process.
You should also make sure that you check for any broken links. You can use a link checker or do this manually…or even both to be extra sure.
Have you recently relaunched a website? What did you do to keep up your SEO?