As marketers we run across people all the time that need a website redesign. Either it is not mobile, it isn’t optimized or it just looks old. Everytime we talk about redesigning the website, they have a large fear instantly. “What will happen to what I have?” “What will happen with the SEO I have already done?” “How do I do it without losing my competitive edge?” Well, we are here to tell you that those are fears you don’t need to have. If done right, all of these fears are not needed. So how do you do it right?
- Keep the old site live—When redesigning the site you do not immediately take down the old site. You will need it for content that needs to be rewritten, for pictures that you may still want and for traffic to your location during the rebuild.
- Run reports prior to website redesign—You need to know where you are coming from to know where you are going. Run an analytics report. Run listing reports. Run a website grader report. Hold on to that information so when you launch your new, modern site you know how far you have come and where you need to go.
- Run a Screaming Frog report—Recently, while doing research for this blog, we ran across a program called Screaming Frog. What a difference it is making for us. We know exactly what is happening on every page of our site, including link data. We highly recommend you run one on your site prior to redesigning.
- 301 redirects—You must redirect all of your old URLs to new ones. This should be the first thing you do with a new site. When the new site is live you will want to go through your list of old URLs from you crawl report. This way you know that everything 301 redirects properly.
- Content is king—When you have content that performs well currently, you will want to minimize changes. You will have a lot of opportunity in the future to do tweaks to the site so for now, minimize the amount of changes to content and work on tweaks after your site is indexed and ranking.
- Backlinks—Make sure you look at sites in your analytics report that currently send traffic to your site. Once you have the list, please reach out to webmasters and ask them to update their backlinks as quickly as possible.
- Internal links—Your crawl date should help you ensure that your internal links are properly set up. If you have pages that have had thousands of internal links, you need to make sure they are correct or it will have major impacts on your indexing and ranking.
- Sitemap—Make sure you update your sitemap across the web. Sitemaps are still and will most likely always be an important factor for ranking. By not having the proper sitemap indexing, the web will not see changes when crawling your site and therefore your rankings will be affected.
- Rankings—Do not expect to be ranked higher instantaneously. Fluctuations will be commonplace, however, make sure you have a comparable baseline. Keep in mind that, especially with bigger sites, it may take some time for pages to be recrawled. If you do discover issues, fix, adjust and reindex ASAP.
- Organic—There is no way to know at all times what is tracking and when, so make sure you are consistently looking at the analytics to compare the keywords for organic traffic. Adjust as needed and reindex.
- Google Search Console—Google Search Console is a free tool that gives you great information. Everything from tracking your 301s and 404s to search analytics all in one place. If you are having issues then Google Search Console will provide you with great insight to your page you can create actionable data from.
If you pay attention and you follow the items above, you will make your relaunch as successful and more successful than your site before redesign. However, keep using these tools. The tools and information are not just for redesign. These tools and steps will also give you great information for you to act on and fix. Remember, no matter how much you work on all of this, it won’t mean anything if you have an unattractive, bulky and non friendly page. So in conjunction with these steps, you need to make sure you follow the other rules like the 3 click rule, proper branding rules, and make your site look like the way you want to represent your business. Your site is a direct reflection of you and your company, so if it is unattractive, it shows your business as unattractive to the user. If it is hard to navigate, it shows your company as hard to navigate. If your branding is not correct, it shows as indecisive and confusing.
It all starts with you and what you want people to know about you! Happy redesign!