05/24/2016

How to Not Destroy Your SEO During a Website Redesign

By David Masulli

You finally admit that a website redesign or company rebrand is due, and you’re on the path toward what should be better (and hopefully more lucrative) days for your company. But one of the biggest concerns with this process is the knowledge that you may lose some of your pre-existing SEO. In this post we’ll discuss some SEO website strategies to employ during a website redesign.

You can’t risk seeing all that hard work to reach the top of Google’s search results go to waste. Take a look at these considerations to keep in mind while you redesign your website so you don’t see a weaker SEO level.

Keep Your URLs the Same

Giving your page a new look doesn’t mean you have to do the same for your URLs. Keeping the same keywords in the URL – when possible – allows for a more seamless transition from your old website in the eyes of search engines. Plus, changing URLs without redirecting them frustrates your customers and frequent website visitors.

If you do decide to make any changes to URLs, do yourself a favor and make them shorter rather than longer. Google will see the words in the URL as more important when there are only four or five words trailing the “.com/” as opposed to 15 or 16.

Choose Keywords Wisely

When you incorporate keywords to enhance your SEO, don’t pick ones that are too difficult for ranking. Google’s Keyword Planner lets you know how difficult and how many searches each possible keyword sees per month. Aim to find a marriage of low competition with higher search volume, and learn to win where you can.

If you’re struggling to find the optimal keywords, try searching some keyword examples on Google, and suggestions of what else to search appear. Try using those on Keyword Planner – odds are they have a respectable volume but may not have the competition of the more “popular” terms.

Create Content Worthy of Ranking

You can expect to see a brief natural slump in website traffic immediately after a website redesign is launched (we’ll get to specifics in a bit). You can work to counter this by churning out a generous amount of remarkable content, such as high-quality blog posts. Hone in on the keywords that have given you success in the past and use them wherever you can (in the URL, title, meta, body), as well as variations of the keywords. Make the posts appealing and more likely to be shared by readers by including at least one relevant and eye-catching image.

It’s crucial to realize the power of long-form content in search engine optimization. High-ranking pages have more words, so if you’re looking at a blog draft of 400 words, know that is not enough. By shooting for a longer length, your page (and your website) sees added authority in the eyes of search engines and their users.

Reorganize with Purpose

Don’t reduce the number of pages on your website during redesign – this is contrary to the previous point. Instead, look for connections between pages and areas of the site that you didn’t see before, and it will allow you to put these together in sections you hadn’t thought of. When there’s related content in one section, it could improve your SEO.

Inform Your Current Contact List

Worried your current users won’t find what they’re looking for in the same place that they’re used to? Notify those in your email database and your followers on social media of the redesign/rebrand. When they search for your company (or a specific page on your website), they’ll be more understanding of the situation and be less likely to give up on their search. As a bonus, notifying them about the website change could see a renewed level of interest from those who have tapered off from frequently stopping by your site.

Be Careful when You do a Test Search!

When you relaunch a website, you might be inclined to search for yourself to see if your SEO is still what it used to be. While this is rooted in good intentions, take caution. Your server or browser might be used to showing your name first if you’ve tried the search before. Use incognito tabs on Google Chrome or try searching from a different computer so your results will be less biased.

During the period of a website’s redesign, sites can expect to see an initial 3-5% drop in visitors for a few weeks. If this happens, don’t freak out unless the percent change or time period is significantly larger.

Additionally, remember that you are rebranding and/or redesigning for a reason. Don’t let those initial drops scare you into reversing decision or giving up hope – this is a normal part of the process that works itself out when companies keep in mind the tips brought up in this blog. You know your company can do better, and this is one of the best ways to get there. High risk can lead to high reward – so follow these steps and have confidence that you’re making the best move for your company. We hope you’ve gleaned some valuable SEO website strategies for your next website redesign, enjoy!