Do you think a website overhaul is something you should consider?
You're not the only one. Companies redesign their websites on average every two to three years.
Redesigning websites can improve your search engine rankings, make your site more usable, and help you attract the right customers.
A poorly executed website redesign can lead to decreased web traffic and revenue loss.
There are many ways to make sure your website redesign doesn't negatively affect your search engine rankings.
This post will help you to prepare for a redesign of your website.
Step 1 – Create your redesign on a Temporary URL or a Production Server
Setting up a temporary URL is the first step in your website design process. This allows you to test your new design without affecting your existing website.
You can create a duplicate website using a CMS such as WordPress.
You will need to create a subfolder in your website if you are using a custom CMS, or if you have your website designed from scratch.
If you're migrating to a CMS for your website redesign you can easily stage your website design on a trial server.
You can make any changes or edits to your customer-facing website without having to change the temporary URL.
The staging site can be used to test the new functions and designs of the CMS if you have chosen to migrate to another CMS.
Step 2 – Perform an Audit of Your Old Site
Next, you will need to conduct a website audit of the old site.
This audit will identify key elements of your website that are driving traffic, leads and sales for you business.
This will ensure that these pages are not lost or damaged in the redesign process.
An audit can help you identify areas on your website that aren’t working or may be causing a poor user experience. A recent study showed that 42.5 per cent of websites had broken links. These instances can be identified by a site audit.
These elements should be identified in an audit.
Perform an audit to identify SEO issues on your site.
- Titles of missing pages
- duplicate page titles
- Page titles greater than 512 pixels
- Page titles less than 200 pixels
- Missing H1 tags
- Duplicate H1 tags
- Multiple H1 tags
- missing meta descriptions
- duplicate meta descriptions
- meta descriptions over 923 pixels
- Canonical tags
- broken internal/external links
- image alt text
These and other SEO issues can be identified by using a website auditing tool such as Ubersuggest, Screaming Frog or Screaming Frog.
Once you have a complete list of SEO problems, you can begin fixing them to improve search engine rankings.
For help with a problem, contact an SEO expert.
Step 3 – No Index Your Temporary/Test Website
When redesigning a website, one of the most common mistakes is to forget to “noindex” their temporary or test site.
Search engines are not required to include your content in search results if there are no indexing tags.
This is crucial because your hard-earned SEO rankings could be lost if your website isn't optimized for search engines or has serious SEO problems before it launches.
Add the following code in your website's head> Section to ensure that search engines do not index your temporary/test site.
This code will allow you to not have your site indexed by Google.
You can find more options for no-indexing from Google here.
After you have entered your code, Google will crawl the page using the URL Inspection tool. This will ensure that your site isn't being indexed. After the crawl is completed, you can check to see if your URL still appears. You may need to restart the noindex process if it doesn't.
Step 4 – Make Your Changes
You can now make changes to your site without worrying about your SEO ranking.
When you start your website redesign, make sure to take into account your SEO at each step.
Do you have a plan to keep your backlinks intact during a redesign, for example?
Do you have a plan for redirects if your navigation structure is being changed?
You can avoid SEO problems by planning ahead and consulting an SEO professional.
You will save time and headaches by creating 404 pages ahead of time, reviewing links from incoming sites (try this free backlink checking tool), and making a plan to redirect URLs to 301.
5: Test Your Website (Use Screaming Frog to Crawl It)
After all the changes, redesigns, tweaks and modifications, you are happy with your site. Now it's time for you to test it.
It is a smart idea to crawl the test website with Screaming Frog SEO Spider in order to find any potential errors during the redesign process.
Screaming Frog will help you locate broken links in your site structure, analyze page titles, meta descriptions, audit redirects, and find duplicate content.
This tool can be used to track and compare your website's crawl budget. This is how much of your website Google is crawling and indexing.
Depending on how strong your SEO strategy is from the beginning, testing can take anywhere between a few days and a few weeks.
Remember to never skip the testing phase.
If you launch your website too soon without identifying potential problems, it can result in SERP penalties and a substantial loss of organic traffic.
Step 6 – Optimize Your New Website
Even with all the planning and execution you have, there will be little mistakes in your website design process.
You can fix any issues you discover in the testing phase before your entire website goes live.
Be sure to document any errors that you discover during your testing phase so that you can correct them before your launch.
Pay attention to:
- Page speed
- Meta descriptions and titles
- Keywords to target
- alt text
- broken links
- Internal linking
Mobile devices account for 54 percent of internet traffic.
These factors will all contribute to a better user experience. This can help you get more visitors and convert more leads.
Step 7 – Set up redirects
It is a common mistake in a website redesign to forget to set up redirects.
When a user or search engine attempts to reach a page that has been moved or deleted, redirects are used.
Visitors might see a page not found error code (404-error code) when they visit your site without redirects. This can frustrate them and cause them to abandon your site.
When a page is moved, deleted or the URL is not updated appropriately, error codes are generated.
- and 401 error codes indicate that viewers are not authorized to view a particular page. This occurs when a website owner uses an authorization plugin to limit access to specific pages.
- 404 error codes are displayed when visitors attempt to visit a page which is no longer available. These errors are often caused by user error, such as entering the wrong URL. However, they can also occur due to website redesigns and changes in domain names.
Website performance can be affected by errors codes. If the page is not redirected, backlinks from the past may disappear.
Google could index your error pages and not other important content.
There are some things you can do, however, to reduce the negative impact these errors have on your search engine rankings.
There are three types of intentional redirects: 302, 302, or 307.
- 301 redirects will continue to forward search engines and visitors to a new URL until they are deleted. These can be used if you have made changes to your permalink structure but are not planning on using the URL again. These redirects will inform search engines and users that the page is no more available and should be removed from index.
- 302 redirects will redirect traffic temporarily. A 302 redirect is often used to perform website maintenance, make small changes or when the URL needs to be used again. It is important to restore your website to its original state after work is completed by deleting any 302 redirects.
- 307 redirects can also be temporary, but provide a little more clarity than their 302 counterparts. 307 redirects indicate that a URL has been changed but will soon be restored. These redirects are used to make temporary changes such as in a website design.
Redirects are especially important if your URL structure changes during a redesign. This can have a significant impact on SEO performance.
You can also improve the user experience by using custom designs for your redirect pages.
Step 8 – Map out 301s
One of the most critical parts of a website design is the 301 redirects. These permanent redirects are used to inform search engines and web browsers that a URL has been permanently moved to another location.
Before you begin the website redesign process, make sure to map your 301s. This will help you to know where each page is redirecting. This will prevent broken links and 404 errors from your new website.
This ensures that you don't lose search engine rankings, traffic, or backlinks to pages on your old website.
Start by identifying the pages you wish to keep on your website and those you want to redirect. This can be done with tools like Screaming Frog and Google Analytics.
You can list your pages anywhere you like, in Excel sheets or Google Sheets, so that you can see the structure of your site.
Once your pages are listed, you can start creating 301 redirects.
You have many options for setting up 301 redirects depending on how your web host handles it.
Some plugins are useful for content management systems (CMS) such as WordPress.
Ask your web designer to create 301 redirects if your website was custom-built.
To ensure that 301 redirects work correctly, make sure you test them and measure them.
This is a simple way to test this: visit the URLs of pages you have redirected to, and see if they display the correct content.
You can use the Crawl Stats Report if you have a Google Search Console Account to find broken redirects.
After you have confirmed that your 301 redirects work correctly, you can proceed with your website design.
Step 9 – Update Your Sitemaps
It is an essential part of website redesign. Search engines will be able to tell which pages have been modified or deleted by updating your sitemaps.
You can easily update your sitemap if you use a CMS such as WordPress. Just install and activate Yoast SEO plugin.
Yoast SEO will create a sitemap automatically for your website, and you can update it whenever necessary.
These steps will help you update your sitemap to Google search engines if WordPress is not installed.
- Use an online sitemap generator such as Screaming Frog to generate your XML Sitemap.
- Upload your sitemap.xml file onto your website's server
- Make sure your sitemap.xml is located in the root folder of your server. This is often the same folder in which you will find “index.php” and “.htaccess” files.
- Verify that your sitemap.xml is active. You can do this by adding the “/sitemap.xml” suffix to your website's domain name (for example, neilpatel.com/sitemap.xml)
- Send your sitemap to Google via the Google Search Console.
10: Removing the No Indexing (Send your Site Live)
Be sure to remove any no-index tags from your website before you make it live.
This will allow Google's search engines to resume indexing new pages on your site and will allow you to start collecting new SEO data.
Simply remove the code you have previously entered into your website's header section and save your changes.
Your site will not rank in search results if you do not remove the no-indexing code.
Step 11 – Double-check Your Work
After you have completed the steps, it is time to publish your website!
To avoid potential problems, double-check everything before you send it.
To ensure that you have as many perspectives possible, it's a good idea for your website to be shown to several people in your team.
Ahrefs is another tool that can be used to assess your website's SEO performance.
If all goes well, hit the send button.
You don't have to worry about small problems that may arise after your launch.
Ensure that you monitor and continually optimize your website after a website redesign.
Commonly Asked Questions about Redesigning Websites While Protecting Search Rankings
Search rankings affected by website redesign
Yes, website redesigns can have an impact on your search engine ranking. The extent of your rank will depend on how well the redesign is executed and how good your website performs in terms SEO.
What's the difference between a site redesign and a website migration?
Website migration refers to the process of moving your website from “example.com to “new domain.com”, or vice versa.
What can be the impact of a website design on SEO?
If you don't take the necessary steps to protect your rankings, you could lose them. To ensure that any link equity (the value and number of links linking to your website) is transferred to the new URLs, it is important to properly set up 301 redirects. These steps can cause significant traffic loss and poor organic search results.
How can I make my website more search engine friendly?
You can change your website without losing your rank by paying attention to the structure of your site and making sure that all redirects are in place. During the website redesign phase, you can also stop search engines crawling your site and start them again to ensure that your rankings remain the same.
Conclusion: How To Safely Redesign Your Website Without Having an Impact on Search Results
While a successful website redesign can transform your site and improve the user experience, it can also hurt your Google rankings if it is done wrong.
We hope you found this guide helpful in protecting your search engine rankings.
In the coming weeks, be sure to closely monitor your website's traffic and search engine rankings. For assistance, contact a trusted developer or SEO specialist if you notice any drops.
What were your results from the latest website redesign? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments.
By: Neil Patel
Title: Website Redesign: How to Safely Do it Without Impacting Your Search Engine Rankings
Sourced From: neilpatel.com/blog/safely-redesign-your-website/
Published Date: Fri, 18 Mar 2022 00:00:00 +0000