How to Retain SEO Ranking after a Website Redesign
We all know the importance of having a website for running a business or service. Without a proper online presence, it becomes difficult to remain visible to the relevant audience.
But just creating a website does not mean that your job is done. It needs maintenance and updates from time to time. You also need to redesign the WordPress website from time to time.
“You cannot just SEO your website and be done. It is a forever moving goal post.” – Stoney DeGeyter
Also, it needs proper SEO for better rankings in the search results. But how are these two aspects related?
Well, there is a common belief, that redesigning a website to keep it up to date with the current trends severely affects its SEO.
Well, they are not entirely wrong in thinking so because numerous factors get altered during the redesign of a site including code and pages. If not handled properly, it impacts the website’s SEO negatively and hampers its long-term growth.
But did anyone tell you that if done properly, redesigning a website could increase your SEO strength?
So how to redesign a website without losing SEO?
In this blog, we will provide insights into how to redesign a website without losing SEO.
Here are 8 useful tips:
Use plugins to get the URL structure. It is the first step to download the URL structure of the website. Redesigning will bring lots of changes affecting the URL re-structure. If you do not back it up, it impacts your website rankings.
While using the Yoast SEO plugin, crawl the website and download the updated sitemap.
It is not advisable to redesign a live website as it causes visitor issues and leads to problems eventually.
Instead, copy the site and set it up into a temporary URL. Once that is done, you can start making changes. You may also switch the domain once all the necessary changes are done.
You may hire a designer for this or get a hosting company to do the job. It will protect you from unforeseen issues happening in the future.
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Here you need to go back to your redirect file, old sitemap, and old site crawl to test to ensure that all old site URLs perform 301 redirects to new site URLs.
Here is where you can catch all stray 404s and implement additional redirects quickly.
Spot-check the URLs and go deeper to work through as many old site URLs as you can.
Check for unusual redirects as 302s or server methods to ensure clean 301s.
If the designer changes the URL to “www.yourwebsite.com/about-us.html” – then you should implement proper 301 redirects to ensure both URLs work and you do not lose the SEO benefits gained previously.
If not done correctly, the search engine will get 404 web pages not found. By doing 301 redirects, the old URL gets redirected to the new one. It is the technical way to tell the search engine that the URL has changed. Google does not downgrade your previous SEO efforts after this.
If you are not sure how to do this manually on WordPress, you can try out redirect plugins that let you do it by filling in a form.
While launching a new website, you must have two complete sitemaps configured. One should be an HTML sitemap for users and search engines, and another should be an XML sitemap for search engines only.
The XML sitemap will help search engines crawl and index your website quicker. Submit an XML map to search engines like Google and Bing through webmaster tools.
A 404-error page is not something you want your visitors to see, but it is an essential element.
Even if 301 redirects are made for all content on the old website, there will still be users who will come across broken links. A 404 page helps these users and search engines to get on track via useful links, a search box, or a redirect to the homepage.
You can also keep the menu of the website on this page to increase usability. This page must be user-friendly, and it needs to return HTTP code 404 so search engines know that they followed a broken link.
Track this page to identify the referrers and fix the broken links.
Keep reviewing and updating the robots.txt files if you have them on your old website. They are used to inform search engines about pages you do not want to be crawled and/or indexed. It should also match the new URL structure.
Robots.txt also helps block the search engines and adds an extra level of security to ensure that none of the test websites are crawled as it will cause duplicate content issues.
This is the most crucial stage of the entire redesigning process. If you change the domain name, Google suggests keeping the old domain name with the 301 redirects for a minimum of 180 days as a transition period using the change of address tool.
This period gives Google bots time to crawl and index all the new pages. Following these simple tips minimizes the risk of your websites losing their SEO and disappearing from search rankings in the transition.
Website redesign is part and parcel of running a successful online business. You will have to follow trends in designing the site after every few years.
It is thus considered wise if you can go through the entire process without losing on your current SEO rankings.
Following the above-mentioned 8 tips will resolve this common issue for you to a great extent. For more information on web designing and SEO trends, you can contact us directly or visit our website for in-depth details of digital marketing.