Making small changes to a website is quite common. Adding and deleting images or small texts may not significantly affect performance and SEO. But how to completely redesign your website without losing positioning?
A complete redesign usually involves changes in the architecture and that could significantly affect your SEO.
To avoid losing the positioning that you have achieved, it is necessary to plan and take into account a series of steps
From the outset, you must take into account, when it is necessary to completely redesign your website. It could be that you fit one of these good reasons:
Obsolete design How long ago did you open your website? If you already have “a little while” of having been created, it is good that you bear in mind that the browsing behavior of users changes and that there are always web design trends with which to improve.
It is not responsive. But where have you gotten all these years? Today 60% comes from mobile traffic, responsive design is almost an obligation. In addition to consumer trends, Google gives preference to sites that do have the responsive. In other words, if you do not count on it, it penalizes you. Do you want to be in the first places? This point is a good reason to redesign.
Makeovers. If your company has had a change in its corporate images such as logo, color palette or any other image concept, do not forget about the website. Although they may be slight changes, you could generate a total change to boost your strategy.
Optimization of the information architecture. If the users of your website do not find your site or head, surely you have to improve usability and user experience. You already noticed, great! It’s a good time to restructure your site.
New content and there is no way to accommodate them. Maybe your previous structure no longer gives you more. It is “sufficient” for the current situation but it does not allow you to optimally carry out content marketing. Good time to raise the sails.
Bad structure or programming. If you suffer from this common illness, you better prepare for a good total redesign treatment. Do not let it go or your project dies
Well, you have everything ready to start. Now is a good time to take into account the basic tools you will need in the process.
Google Analytics One of the best-known tools in the world of digital marketing. During the redesign process, this tool will help with some statistics you need to evaluate your website.
Google Search Console. If you have created a new website, do not forget to index your site to the search engine. Sometimes the pages are indexed alone, but if they do not, you will need a tool. To be found in Google, there is the Google Search Console.
Google PageSpeed Insights. Being part of the most complete tools that Google has, PageSpeed helps you evaluate your entire site and find the weak points to make improvements. The best thing about this tool is that you evaluate from sites from computers to responsive ones.
Other tools that can be great allies to analyze and evaluate the positioning of your website are Screaming Frog, Ahrefs, and Majestic.
Although for the majority you need to have a subscription, they offer you the possibility of a free trial, with which you can see which one is suitable according to your needs.
It is important to have knowledge of the 301 redirects. The redirections that will be made on your website depend on the server or the CMS you are using. The most common methods are the use of .htaccess and the use of plugins.
Take these recommendations into account before starting
You do not think about launching yourself from an airplane without having checked the parachute, right? And what can I say about launching without him!
The fact of changing your website does not mean that you are going to leave aside the analysis of keywords, positioning, and metrics of your site and web pages – know the difference between the web page and website here-. Do not forget to monitor and have the following clearly defined.
Web traffic sources. Organic traffic, through social networks, from other websites and direct traffic. You will need to reactivate and monitor it after the migration.
Backlinks With what links you have and how you intend to keep them. Or in case of redirections, get them updated.
The content. It takes a strict control of which articles in your blog has a good positioning and are well optimized. Also of those that do not generate traffic and do not gain positioning, to adjust them in the redesign.
Redirects 301. You may need to place some 301 redirects to help Google identify which URLs on your site have been permanently deleted and moved to another address.
Keep in mind that one of the objectives in a web redesign is to avoid losing positioning and improve the points that have led you to do it.
We enter the good. Carry out a redesign looking after SEO, can be complicated, but not impossible. The redesign consists of three stages, where each one has its own steps.
The stages are pre-launch, launch and post-launch. Next, we will see each one and the steps to follow to have a redesign under successful SEO.
At this stage, you will need to analyze all the information about the traffic received by each web page. It is convenient to include in your control record, the source of traffic to the web, the level of traffic per page and any element that may affect the positioning.
In addition to analyzing the traffic, you must take these other parameters:
The status of the metrics that are used. The evaluation of the metrics will be to measure the successful – or disastrous – result between the previous design and the redesign. Here Google Analytics will be very useful. Tip: Choose carefully the metrics that represent the success of the project.
An SEO audit. The audit will be conducted with the purpose of finding points where it can be improved. Some of the points to improve are the meta descriptions, the URLs, the keywords and the titles. All this information should be in your control document. You can use tools like Screaming Frog to make your job easier. Continue reading- 5 BEST WEB PAGES TO CREATE A FREE BLOG OR WEBSITE
Step 2. Prioritize URLs
Once the analysis is done, you must begin to prioritize the URLs of your website. See which are the URLs that have the best traffic results, as well as positioning and their keywords.
Creating this list of URLs will help you to know which pages generate the total traffic of the website, as well as to define which are the most important for the site and the redesign.
Step 3. Sort by backlinks
What would SEO be without backlinks? In this step, the information of incoming links that are held on the site is collected. With the list that was created in the previous step of URLs, you should go check what inbound links each one has, the quality and the traffic that they generate to each page.
And, finally, beyond the backlinks, you must also take into account the current link. Both internal and external.
With this information, you can perform an analysis of whether you should keep the link or define what changes you should make in it.
Once you have completely analyzed your website and are clear about the needs, get to work, which is the time of the redesign!
Take these recommendations into account:
If you have to do redirects, check that they work correctly.
Check that the meta descriptions, titles, and keywords match the content.
If you have created or modified URLs, be careful that they are short and friendly.
It takes care of the indexing of the new pages and in general, of all those that have suffered some change. You can send a sitemap from Search Console or you can use this tool from Google.
Verify that everything works correctly in the browsers and devices from which your target audience will enter your page.
All the recommendations are important, but for Google, there is some that matter more:
While valid, evaluate and modify, hide from the search engines.
In case you are creating a completely new website, remember to hide this new version using robots.txt. At the moment you are adding the information to the new website of the old site, Google may find that content is being duplicated and the new site may penalize you.
In case you do not know very well of these terms, you can create the new version of your website in a file, delete the old version and start as if it were from scratch.
Although the latter would not be technically correct, it is also an option for those who initiate. Just do not take long to place the new site, or it will also cost you facing the positioning.
Do not forget that Google takes redirects seriously. Review them well.
You should never overlook redirects in the redesign of your website. Whether you are migrating or deleting web pages, if you change any URL do not forget to redirect to the appropriate page.
Step 6. Monitoring
The final step is monitoring the proper functioning of the website. Monitoring is used to find any fault and be able to solve it
What do I need to monitor?
The metrics that were defined in the pre-release.
That there are no duplicate pages
Possible errors in redirections
That the whole site works correctly
You can use Google Analytics and Screaming Frog. And if you have access to a tool like AHREFS, it will also be very useful.
Take into account that doing all this could cause short-term problems if you do not analyze and plan the process well.
What commonly suffers “damage” with the changes is:
Internal linkage. The change in architecture is based on providing a better user experience. Sometimes, when the architecture changes, the URL too. Care must be taken to avoid broken links either internal or external. Broken links can affect your positioning.
Redirects affect the load time. It is common that you should use redirects after changing the web architecture. Sometimes, you may have left so many redirects that it affects the load of the site. According to Google, the faster the site loads, the better for positioning.
Problems with keywords. When reviewing the content, there may be a post that is not relevant. In these cases, it is better to modify it and give it a helping hand than redirect the link from that post to another.
Checklist to preserve and improve your SEO after the redesign
Although we already saw the points of each stage, it never hurts to have a checklist:
Evaluate your SEO strategy. We saw this part in the redesign plan. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your current SEO strategy. Analyze where there are opportunities.
Modify your content effectively. Create or modify the titles of your content and text, but only when necessary and worthwhile. Especially in the content of pages that were already well positioned.
Take care of the change of URLs. You probably have to modify or add some URL in your website. In case you need to eliminate URLs, take care that they are not of value -in question SEO- and if needed, use the redirects.
Check your external links If you had to remove some URL from your website, evaluate if any website linked to it. If you find pages that have linked, remember to apply redirection 301.
Also your internal links. Use some of the tools that exist to search your site for links to the page you have deleted, broken links.
Avoid changing your website radically. Make all changes on your site in a single day could be a double-edged sword when we refer to Google. Try to improve your site gradually. Unless you have a very bad current web architecture, then yes, destroy everything you find!
First the important thing
There are cases where the website contains many pages in its structure. Create a list of all the pages on your website and evaluate their relevance. Remove those that are not necessary and order your content.
If you use robots.txt while redesigning, do not forget to configure it at the end. So Google can find your redesigned website without problems.
Error 404. Every step you take on your site, check that each link and page exists. Do not want to “kick out” a website with 404 errors.
After the redesign, monitoring continues. It does not matter if the changes you made to the site were large or small, it monitors the operation of each page, the traffic, searches, as well as the behavior of your links.
At the moment of acting, you will see that, following each recommendation, the redesign will have a positive effect, generate more traffic and achieve better positioning.
If you’re not sure, hire a web design expert
Probably the advice is less successful because nobody knows your website better than yourself. However, there are factors that can lead you to make that decision.
Some of the most common factors why website owners resort to web design experts is the lack of knowledge in programming, little knowledge and use of SEO tools and do not know the principles of usability and user experience.
If you want to venture to do it, use this simple guide and you will see how the process becomes easier.
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