Website redesigns can be particularly stressful for SEO. Follow this checklist to ensure your organic traffic remains intact
Sprucing up your website is an essential part of website management. Depending on changes in technology, the needs of your audience, and your KPIs, you may need to entirely or substantially overhaul your website to maintain your brand’s identity. There are several website redesign services that can provide a completely new look to your website, including changing the layout, structure, content, and even the domain name.
But the biggest worry for businesses planning to opt for a redesign is the potential drop in traffic and ranking of their website that they have worked extremely hard to achieve. A web design company can do a great job at overhauling your website -- however, is there a guarantee it can be done without sabotaging your SEO efforts?
This article provides a detailed checklist of things to keep in mind before you commence any redesigning exercise so that it doesn’t become an SEO disaster.
Let’s address the elephant in the room -- improving the user experience and user interface is the ultimate way to win new customers. A thorough website redesign can quickly help you achieve these goals.
If you are keen on generating new leads, want to make your website more functional and user-friendly, or simply want a consistent look and feel across the website, approaching creative agencies for a redesign is a great option. Website redesign is also recommended if your current website:
A timely redesign exercise can make a massive difference to your bottom line. That’s why it is also important to do it at the right time. While the reasons above provide a fair indication of when you should opt for a redesign, branding agencies can also help you determine whether it is time for a full redesign.
Best practices to keep in mind during a website redesign to avoid a drop in traffic
It is absolutely normal to expect the traffic to dip initially once you have redesigned your website. The search engine needs to go through the new pages and show them to the audience. However, if the traffic continues to be very low for an extended period of time, only then is it a cause for concern. Here’s what you should keep in mind to prevent it from happening:
The first step in your redesign exercise should be going through the current one. It is a crucial step as it will help you collate all the relevant information in one place and make redesigning easier. Several online tools are available to help you do this, and you can download all the data in a spreadsheet. You should also consider performing a content audit to identify which are the most important pages on your website and which can be deleted or combined with another page. The more granular you get at this stage, the easier it becomes to redesign the new website.
Most people overlook this step which results in a massive loss of traffic. It is possible that a majority of the existing URLs change during the redesigning process as you add or remove web pages. Redirects serve an important function as they convey to the search engine where the updated version of a page is located. In the absence of redirects, the search engine simply marks them deleted.
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Before you launch the new website, make sure to set up the redirects. Always opt for 301 redirects that are permanent. 301 tells the search engines that the concerned page has moved permanently. It can help the search engine locate the correct page, show it to the audience, and boost your ranking. In contrast, a 302 redirect is a temporary one that can bring down your rankings.
There’s nothing more frustrating for a user than staring at their screen, waiting for a website to load. When it comes to mobile devices, even a one-second delay can bring down the conversion rates by 20%.
A tool such as PageSpeed Insights by Google can help you identify the errors responsible for bringing down the speed of your website. Depending on the cause, you can employ methods such as using a content distribution network, reducing HTTP requests, getting a caching plugin for your website, or compressing the files to maintain the speed. Also, make sure that the images you are using on every page are appropriately sized. If you want to add videos, compress them to reduce the size or shorten the length of the video.
SEO is a crucial part of your redesigning exercise. If you don’t want to lose out on quality organic traffic that your old website received, focus on optimizing the new pages. Identify the top-performing keywords for every page that you want to rank for. Make sure to incorporate them in the header, subheadings, and image alt text. Check whether the keyword is incorporated throughout the content without being stuffed.
A new website is an unknown territory for a search engine. However, to get steady traffic, the search engine should understand the purpose of the website. Adding an XML sitemap can make it easier for the search engine to do its job.
You can think of the sitemap as a blueprint to help the search engine navigate through the website. In the absence of a sitemap, crawlers may ignore your new website completely. An XML sitemap can be created manually by adding all the URLs or using an SEO plugin that generates it automatically.
Testing a redesigned website is extremely important. Spend time going through the changes to identify if there are any issues. Redesigned websites are prone to have more broken links, which can drive away quality traffic coming your way.
If your new website has several pages targeting the same keyword, add a rel=”canonical” tag so that the search engine knows which page is the master copy that should appear in the search results.
Apart from links, pay close attention to CTAs, keyword optimization, navigation, and interactive content on your website. Also, check whether the new website is working fine on both desktop and mobile devices. Make sure to get a fresh pair of eyes to go through your website before you officially launch. Even a minor blip can have severe consequences for your traffic.
Website redesigns can be a great way to improve the overall experience of your visitors. However, it can damage your traffic if done incorrectly without a proper plan. The tips above can help you undertake a redesign exercise without stressing out too much about SEO.
If you have experienced a drop in traffic due to a website redesign, don’t hesitate to contact experts. At SPINX Digital, we can help identify what could have caused the drop in traffic and guide you to make the most out of your redesigned website. Get in touch with us immediately to maximize your rewards from the redesign.