How To Make Sure Your New Web Design Keeps Your Old SEO

How To Make Sure Your New Web Design Keeps Your Old SEO

google-pandaAs many small businesses now know, SEO is no easy task. It takes a lot of time, a lot of money, and a lot of patience. Moral of the story, you don’t want to create an SEO strategy and earn results only to have them disappear and force you to start over. Unfortunately, this is what sometimes happens when a company chooses to redesign its website. It’s never on purpose, but when you’re visiting the SERP where you used to see your company on page one and now seem to be page 100, that logic only makes you angrier.

The worst kinds of mistakes are the careless ones, and this problem fits into this category. It’s very easy to make sure that your old SEO is transferred onto your new website design, you just have to make sure you’re taking the right precautions and making that a focus.

Top Ways to Protect Your Current SEO Efforts During a Redesign

It’s first important to understand that every website and every redesign is going to be different. If you’re just changing a few colors or moving things around but are not changing the actual URLs, you can get away without doing anything extra. It’s the major redesigns that need the attention.

Below are steps to make sure that your redesign brings your old SEO with it:

Step #1: Understand all of the URLs associated with your site that Google crawls.

If you’re going to change the URLs on your site, you need to know which URLs you want to inform Google are moving (which is step #3). Most businesses do this by using a tool to crawl their own site and then print out a report of all the URLs on the website. This means subdomains as well. A few free tools you can use include the Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tools and Crawler FX.

Step #2: Understand your link profile.

It’s also a good idea to know who is linking to what pages on the web as well as the internal links you are using. You don’t want one page with a link to transfer while the other does not (you would have a broken link), so it’s important to do an inbound link analysis. Again, there are several tools you can use to help including Open Site Explorer, Monitor Backlinks, and Majestic SEO Tools.

Step #3: 301 Redirect all of your URLs.

This is absolutely the most important thing to remember (if this is all you do you still might be OK). A 301 redirect alerts Google that you’re doing a site redesign and it tells the bots who crawl your site that one URL is changing, or moving, to another URL but it’s still the same page. A 301 redirect passes PageRank and other link juice to your new URLs. You can visit this article to learn how to get started with a 301 redirect. Of course, if you’re keeping the same URLs with your new design you don’t need a 301 redirect at all. Just make your changes and you should be set to go.

Step #4: Tell Google you are moving domains.

By now you should have a Google and a Bing Webmaster account (or set one up here). You can then go under the “site configuration” tab and find “change of address” that allows you to tell Google that you’re moving domains or some of your pages are changing URLs.

Step #5: Consider completing an SEO audit.

To cut down on a few steps, consider having an SEO audit completed before you start your redesign. This will ensure that a professional is helping you double-check everything that is working and not working with your site, which should then help you make decisions about what to 301 redirect and what to scrap.

In the end, a website redesign is not something that you should be afraid to do. It’s important that websites update every few years; especially if your competition has been making major changes. It helps keep your website fresh and relevant. You don’t have to lose your SEO in the process, so no excuses!

What do you do to make sure that your SEO is transferred onto your new website design? Do you have a horror story about losing all of your SEO work? Let us know your experience and tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from Panda and Penguin updates. She writes for the nationally recognized SEO agency that offers online marketing services to a wide range of companies across the country. 
Featured images: Image by Smart Photo Stock

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