How to Maintain SEO During a Website Redesign
A question many ask when redesigning their website is, “Will my SEO be affected when my website is rebranded?” Unfortunately, the answer is yes for many businesses. Websites with major design, content and structure changes typically see a 10% average drop in organic traffic. Google needs to crawl and index all of your new pages, so it’s natural to see a temporary decline for a few weeks and maybe even months. However, there are a few things you can do before your new website launches to prevent your SEO from being negatively impacted.
Prior to Launch
1. Make backups to the backups
Gather and save all the old website information. Even though the focus is on making changes, it’s always safe to keep copies to revert back to just in case there are any major fluctuations when the new website is launched. Gathering elements like meta titles and descriptions, keywords, URLs, sitemaps and any old webcopy, are good places to start. While this is the first item on your action plan, it should be an ongoing reminder to always save old information before making any new changes—just in case!
2. Make all changes in the staging mode
Mirroring the live website, a staging website is a private testing ground for any new changes or major features in a safe environment. Working in a staging site allows you to make updates to your design, web copy, metadata etc, without any downtime to your live site, and it will ensure any bugs or mis-haps are fixed before going live to the public. When the stage site is ready for launch, all you’ll have to do is deploy the staging site to live your live site.
3. Always keep Technical SEO front of mind
Speaking to the entire process of maintaining your SEO during a website redesign, make sure to consistently update the Technical SEO—optimizing the site for crawling and indexing.
Here’s a quick checklist to repeatedly reference at every stage of the rebrand:
- Resubmit your sitemap
- Recrawl website in Google Search Console
- Compress images
- Make sure Robots.txt is turned on and updated
- Make sure your website is secure with https
- Use an SEO plugin like Yoast to make sure your webpages are optimized
- Connect to CDN
- Run an SEO audit with SEMRush or Moz to make sure there are no errors/broken links
This Alpha and Beta Testing Checklist can be another reference on what to check during the SEO audit, like making sure any 301 redirects are in place of replacing any old URLs. Some pages may no longer be on the new website, so be sure to reference all your webpages from the information you saved in Step 1 to make sure there are redirects in place for each one.
4. Update Blogs
We all know that blogging helps boost SEO quality as it drives traffic to your website. So, it makes sense to make it an ongoing project before and during a website rebrand to review and update your existing blogs. With years of blog content, it’s possible that some of your old blog content could be harming your blog’s SEO. It’s okay to delete irrelevant, duplicate, or poor blogs that could be competing with “better” blogs on your site—just make sure you’re setting up URL redirects so there aren’t any harmful 404 errors.
For the blogs that you’re keeping, review and make sure the copy is still providing relevant information. Also, update the metadata with higher-ranking keywords, and make sure the links and images within the blog are updated and not broken too. Be sure NOT to alter the high ranking blog posts too much as they’re already ranking well and small changes could affect this.
5. Monitor Google Analytics & Goals
To ensure there isn’t a huge disturbance from the old to the new website, make sure to monitor your Google Analytics, keywords and traffic goals on a monthly basis. It takes time for Google to crawl and respond to all webpage changes, especially if there are big changes to the site structure and copy. It’s likely that there will be a dip in organic numbers during this time, which is why it’s good to make all on-page and technical SEO updates in the staging site before the website is live to make sure Google is crawling the correct info right away when the site is launched.
* Give several months for the website to transition and see improvements.
6. Post-Launch Supplementation
As mentioned earlier, it will take time for Google to recrawl the new site’s structure and it’s possible to see a dip in traffic during this time. While it’s important to implement best practices prior to the site launch, it’s also important to evaluate what success will look like after a rebrand too. Here are some questions to ask in preparing for possible corrective actions:
- Will paid ads directed to the new website supplement a percentage of dips in traffic?
- What is the projected traffic dip, and what would be considered alarming?
- How long is this traffic swing predicted to last before expecting steady numbers?
So, how do we make sure your website’s SEO stays intact during a website redesign? The short answer is, consistently review, update, and re-analyze before, during, and after the website redesign. SEO is not a one and done project, it requires constant supervision. Save old information, make changes in the staging website, constantly monitor and audit your SEO, and continue to make updates to your content in order to stay relevant and consistent in brand messaging.
Partner with Pyxl
If you’re redesigning your website, don’t go at it alone. Partner with our digital experts at Pyxl to ensure your website redesign goes smoothly. We’ll work with you to design and develop your beautiful new website, and we’ll put the proper SEO best practices in place to retain and even improve your rankings and traffic. Or if you’ve already redesigned your website and you need help rebuilding your organic traffic with inbound marketing campaigns or paid media, we can help with that too! Contact us today to discover what we can do for your business.
Or check out our Alpha and Beta Checklist to help discover any bugs that may affect your SEO during a website redesign.
Updated: Oct 16, 2020