Website Redesign: How to Safely Do It Without Impacting Your Search Engine Rankings

Website Redesign: How to Safely Do It Without Impacting Your Search Engine Rankings | Online Marketing Help
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Are you considering a website redesign? If so, you’re not alone.

On average, companies redesign their websites every two to three years.

Website redesigns can help boost your search rankings, improve usability, and attract your ideal customers.

However, a poorly executed website redesign can have disastrous consequences, such as decreased web traffic and loss of revenue.

If you’re thinking about redesigning your website, there are ways to ensure your website redesign does not negatively impact your search rankings.

Table of Contents

Before the Redesign:

Step 1: Create Your Redesign on a Temporary URL (or a Production Server)

The first step in your website redesign process is setting up a temporary URL.

This lets you test out your new design without impacting your live website.

If you’re using a CMS like WordPress, you can easily create a duplicate of your website on a different domain name or subdomain.

If you’re using a custom CMS or having your website built from scratch, you’ll want to create a subfolder on your website and install the new design there.

Step 2: Perform an Audit of Your Old Site

Performing a thorough website audit of your old site is crucial.

Identify key elements driving traffic, leads, and sales, and ensure they are not lost or harmed during the redesign.

Look for SEO issues, such as missing or duplicate page titles, duplicate content, broken links, and address them during the redesign process.

Step 3: No Index Your Temporary/Test Site

One common mistake is forgetting to “no index” the test or temporary site. This tag tells search engines not to include your content in their search results. Implementing this ensures that your SEO rankings are not impacted during the redesign process.

During the Redesign:

Step 4: Start Making Your Changes

Now that you have no-indexed your site, start making changes without worrying about impacting your SEO rankings.

Consider SEO at every step, especially if you have a strong backlink profile or if you are changing your navigation structure.

Step 5: Test Your New Website (Crawl It Using Screaming Frog)

After all the changes, it’s crucial to test your new site thoroughly.

Use tools like Screaming Frog SEO Spider to check for errors introduced during the redesign process.

This includes finding broken links, analysing page titles and meta descriptions, and auditing redirects.

Step 6: Optimise Your New Site

Identify and correct any errors found during testing.

Pay attention to page speed, meta descriptions, alt text, broken links, redirects, and mobile optimisation.

These factors contribute to a better user experience and help attract more visitors.

Step 7: Set Up Redirects

One common error during a redesign is forgetting to set up redirects.

Redirects are crucial to guide users and search engines to the correct pages when URLs are moved or deleted.

Implement 301 redirects to maintain link equity and prevent 404 errors.

Step 8: Map Out 301s

Map out 301 redirects before starting the redesign.

Identify the pages you want to keep and redirect. Tools like Screaming Frog or Google Analytics can assist in this process.

Ensure that you don’t lose search engine rankings, traffic, or backlinks during the transition.

Step 9: Update Your Sitemaps

Updating your sitemaps is essential to inform search engines about changes or removal of pages.

If you’re using a CMS like WordPress, plugins like Yoast SEO can automate this process.

For other platforms, use online sitemap generators and submit the updated sitemap to Google Search Console.

Step 10: Remove the No Indexing (Send Your Site Live)

Before launching your website, remove the no-index tag to allow search engines to index your new pages.

This step is crucial for gathering new SEO data points and ensuring your site ranks in search results.

After the Redesign:

Step 11: Double-Check Your Work

Before making your website live, double-check your work to avoid potential issues.

Get multiple perspectives from your team and use tools like Ahrefs to check SEO performance.

If everything looks good, proceed with the website launch.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Does website redesign impact search rankings?

Yes, a website redesign can impact search rankings.

The extent depends on the execution and the current SEO performance of the website.

What is the difference between website migration and website redesign?

Website migration involves moving a website to a new domain, while website redesign changes the structure but keeps the same domain.

What are the potential impacts of a website redesign on SEO?

Potential impacts include loss of current rankings if not preserved correctly, the importance of setting up 301 redirects, and the risk of Google indexing error pages.

How to change a website without losing rank?

Pay attention to site structure, set up redirects, and control search engine crawling during the redesign phase.

Conclusion

A successful website redesign can transform your site and improve the user experience, but it can also harm your Google rankings if done incorrectly.

Follow these steps to safely redesign your website without impacting search results.

Monitor your website’s search engine rankings and traffic closely after the launch and seek help from developers or SEO experts if needed.

What were the results of your latest website redesign? Let us know in the comments.

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