Congratulations, you’ve successfully made it through a website redesign! Much like one of those nifty infomercial products, your website is both “New AND Improved”.
Whether your excited to show off that easy to use, information filled beauty to the world…or just relieved to be done. You need to STOP and make sure you preserve your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) before you launch! If you don’t follow the proper steps, you can jeopardize where your website shows up in search. This could mean less traffic to your website and could have an impact on your bottom line!
Your website has built up credibility/equity in the eyes of search engines, make sure you preserve it!
This posts covers three of the most common SEO errors made during a website redesign launch. If you have a website designer be sure that they, at a minimum do the three items mentioned in this post. If you are hiring a website designer (ahem I know a guy), make sure to ask them about their plan to preserve your website’s SEO.
*Not all website designers are aware of how to properly preserve your SEO, understand the impact to your business of preserving it, or will quote you a lower price for your website design because they don’t include it.
Proper 301 Redirects
The most common thing that people overlook during a website redesign is properly redirecting old pages. If you changed any part of your pages URL(s) during your website restructuring/redesign, you’ll want to make sure to properly redirect your web pages. Below are a few common examples of URL changes:
Properly redirecting old pages
Properly redirecting your old pages, will avoid any broken links from third party websites. Links from other websites are an important component in your websites search raking. A 301 redirect will help preserve the credibility that your web page has established and preserve “link juice”. Additionally, it will ensure that people with links (e.g. bookmarks, old emails, etc.) will be sent to the appropriate page.
What to Do
- Before decommissioning your website create a sitemap of your existing site, so you know what pages need to be redirected. If you don’t have a sitemap, you can create one for free at: https://www.xml-sitemaps.com
- Create a list of old pages and new pages and map the old pages to the corresponding new pages.
- Implement and ensure that you have 301 redirects, as you have mapped out.
Take Down your Old Pages
You might think that having multiple pages, with the same information, increases your chances of showing up higher in search. If you do, I hate to break it to you, but this is does more harm than good.
I won’t go in depth on this, but Google and search engines see this as a potential activity to intentionally manipulate your search ranking. This can result in the search engine lowering your search ranking. Feel free to read more from Google on duplicate content.
What to Do
- Implement the proper 301 redirects
- Delete or remove the “old version” of any pages.
Side Tip- Another common duplicate content issue is when search engines index/crawl both the www and non www versions of your website. To avoid/remedy this, you can let Google know within their Search Console, Bing/Yahoo within their Webmaster Tool, or utilize 301 redirects.
Let the Search Engines Know
Once you’ve launched your website, you need to let the search engines know. This will stop non-existent pages from showing up in search results, which can harm your search ranking and cause visitors to immediately leave your website. If you have proper 301 redirects in place the majority of the SEO “credibility/equity” will be passed along to your new pages.
What to Do
- Create a sitemap. This will allow the search engines to identify the pages on your website. If you have a content management system and/or are anticipate adding/removing pages from you website, then you should look to add a dynamic sitemap. If you’re website will be relatively static, you can create one at: https://www.xml-sitemaps.com
- Submit your sitemap. You can immediately inform Google and Bing/Yahoo of your updated site by submitting your sitemap to them, here are the links: Google Search Console and Bing/Yahoo Webmaster Tools.
Side Note- If you are changing domains (e.g. 1103marketing.com to 1103marketing.biz), you will want to inform Google via it’s Search Console and Bing/Yahoo via it’s webmaster tools.