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How to Perform a Website Redesign Without Ruining Your SEO

website redesign

Every website can do with a facelift once and a while. If given enough time, the current styles and tastes change, content becomes stale, ownership changes hands, or other factors come into play that require a website redesign. It’s a good idea to always try to keep up with the changing landscape of online business and your customers’ needs.

However, the idea of redoing your website is intimidating if you’ve gone to a lot of effort to set up your SEO. Backlinks, social integration, and all the other SEO work you’ve done in the past can be undone with the press of a button if you don’t take the right steps to ensure that your website redesign doesn’t just erase your old work. Here, Virtual Market Advantage will take a look at what you can do to keep your SEO in place while giving your website a revamp.

Backlinks, social integration, and all the other SEO work you’ve done in the past can be undone with the press of a button if you don’t take the right steps to ensure that your website redesign doesn’t just erase your old work. Click To Tweet

Redirects

The very first thing you need to do when undertaking a website redesign is to redirect the old URLs to the new ones. This is called a “301 redirect.” If you’re copying over a lot of your old content, make sure you keep the same content on the same URLs. Create a spreadsheet and keep a log of the content pages along with their old and new URLs. This will help you stay organized and let you know where and what you need to redirect from the old pages to the new ones. If you can keep the permalink structure the same on your redesign, it will make it easier to transfer content and URLs at the same time.

Preserve your Link Inventory

Before you change over to your new website redesign, make sure you have all of your backlinks inventoried. Know where all links are coming from and where they’re going to. Have those websites update their links to point to your new site pages and reclaim your inbound links. Completing this step before you get too far into your redesign will save you time and headache once the process is complete.

Keep your Content

Your content has been crawled and indexed time and time again to build up your presence in the search engines. If you go in and change all of your content, it would be a major step back in SEO. Your website redesign can be done without changing all of that content. Try to keep your blogs, web text, and photo tags and descriptions the same. Your design is new, but the content doesn’t have to be.

On-Page Optimization

Perform a last-minute crawl of your old website to give you some insight into what has been working for your website and what has not. This step will allow you to pull all the key elements from you page and export them to the new one while discarding the elements that are holding your website back. You can then export your page titles, meta descriptions, headers, and other SEO work. As with your page content, you want to keep as much of this the same as possible, so directly exporting them from the old site to the new one will ensure that you’re doing just that.

Keep Your Old Site Live

If you’re doing a complete website redesign, do it in the background. Keep your old website live while you build the new one behind the scenes. This allows you to troubleshoot the new site, make sure everything is working, and even have beta testers peruse it before putting it out there for the masses. If you work on a new site while it’s already live, you will likely run into troubles with broken links, ugly graphics, incomplete content, and other issues. Spare yourself and your visitors the headache, and hide your developing new website until it’s good to go.

Technical Site Auditing

Use an auditing tool that will crawl your website and look for any new technical problems. There are many tools online that can help you get positive results out of a thorough technical audit. A good resource to use for this step is called DeepCrawl, which will give you all types of information about your site while monitoring your log files. Using such an auditing tool can help you spot any small issues before they become larger problems and will help you resolve any new issue with your SEO the minute they pop up.

When all is said and done, a website redesign should give you the opportunity to improve your SEO and your overall conversion rates, not destroy them. If your site has strong SEO roots and a good flow of organic traffic, then you will definitely want to take extra care to preserve that work. Follow the guidelines above to make sure your URLs are redirected, your backlinks stay connected, your quality content remains the same, and your new website goes up only after it’s been set up and debugged.

While you’re redesigning your website, check out VMA’s guide to creating a killer landing page, so your new one is the best it can be!