Many businesses go through a re-brand or simply just want to update their website at some time. If search engine traffic is coming to your existing website then the change-over to the new site needs to be done carefully to ensure you maintain your existing search engine rankings so you don’t lose business and sales once your new website goes live.
It is also important to make these SEO considerations during the design process of your new website. Once your new website goes live, it is difficult and sometimes impossible to correct some issues that may have been created.
Here is some considerations that must be made when re-designing your website.
Ensure your web designer understands and implements the basics of SEO
Page structure and coding are fundamental to search engine optimisation. Make sure your designers are aware of items such as alt attributes, title tags, H1 tags and meta descriptions.
Are your website URL’s changing
If they are, you need a complete list of the old URL’s of every page of your website. These old URL’s need to have a 301 redirect placed on them to the new and equiavalent URL. This will basically divert traffic from the old URL to the new URL. Any ranking from the old page will then pass through to the new page. Of course, if you can keep your URL’s all the same with the new design, this would be best and would then make the 301 redirects unecessary.
Check on links that are pointing to your website from other sites. You can check these on Open Site Explorer( http://www.opensiteexplorer.com/). Firstly you will need to ensure 301 directs have been placed on all these URL’s that the links are pointing to, if those pages will no longer exist in your new site structure. Once your new site is live it is advisable to contact any site owners whose incoming links point to any old page URL’s and ask them to update their links so that they are now pointing to pages on your new website.
Continuation of Optimisation
Have a strong understanding of your current SEO and keyword status and a good knowledge of the important keywords that you currently rank for . You want the optimisation and rankings to transfer across in the design process of your new website.
Effective 404 Page
Ensure an effective 404 page is set up for the new website. A 404 page is the page visitors are directed to if they have navigated to a page that doesn’t exist on your domain. That way if any links still point to an old page, at least visitors will be able to easily navigate to a new webpage that exists and you won’t just lose the traffic.
Make sure the new site is indexable
Ensure a XML sitemap is submitted to Google via Webmaster Tools for your new website.
Once You Launch
Check for any errors. Ensure that you don’t have any broken links on the new website. In other words, check that you don’t have any pages linking to another page that no longer exists. Then keep a close eye on your rankings and any fluctuations that occur and take steps to fix any issues as soon as possible.
I am currently working with a client who had their website re-designed but they didn’t consult with me until after the new website went live. They lost aproximately 65% of their organic search engine traffic due to the re-design of their website which has had a huge impact on the profit margin of the business.
Please ensure you have all the necessary strategies in place to avoid this happening to you and consult with a SEO specialist during the design stage.
About Jayne Day
Jayne is an online marketing strategist and success coach for female entrepreneurs who are ready to take action for massive results in their business. She offers complete online marketing strategies and solutions to female entrepreneurs and business owners so they can be found online by their ideal clients by implementing a range of strategies that all work together and are customised for each client's business.