Website Redesign: How To Upgrade Your Site Without Losing SEO

A website redesign project is not a simple switch up and can be disastrous to your SEO, if not done right.

Maybe you want to update to HTTPS, migrate to another CMS, or just modernise with a redesign. Whatever your strategy, you don’t want all those top rankings to go to pot. You’ve dedicated hours of your time and hard-earned money into the progression of your organic visibility. You wouldn’t want all the time and effort to be in vain now, would you?

Today’s article will help you avoid that fate. Here are some simple steps you can take during a redesign, site migration, or during a launch, to prevent any SEO slip-ups.

Why consider SEO in a website redesign?

Why do I even need to think about SEO? Surely, everything will stay the same? It’s just the aesthetics of my site that will change, for the better, right? In short, you can’t run that risk.

Let’s say you are doing great. Your online visibility is through the roof. You are killing it in organic rankings, and you are landing new sales every single day, all thanks to SEO. Do you want all that hard work to be for nothing? When done right, you won’t lose any traffic or rankings during a website redesign; if fact, you will gain them.

At Bigfoot Digital, we believe that ecommerce website design is essential to help you beat competitors to a sale and appear as the market leader. Your website needs to move with the market, so keeping up with emerging technologies is essential.

Here we’ll outline the steps you should take when mapping out a new website and migrating content from an existing domain from an SEO perspective. We’ll cover the technical SEO implications and why hiring a web design company to overcome them is the right thing to do.

Step 1: Start with SEO

The first thing that happens when people switch their sites is they build new pages and neglect existing ones. They chuck away valuable historical content that has tons of authority and trust. Instead, they create new pages and completely change every URL. And, the problem is? They are starting from scratch. All the work that was put into researching, writing and optimising content is lost because they failed to redirect the pages.
This only happens because people fail to understand how Google reads a website and how existing pages hold authority.

Step 2: Audit your site

The second and essential step is to run a comprehensive website audit. Our free SEO audit tool will do the trick, but we highly recommend you contact our professional marketing team ensure you don’t miss anything and understand all the requirements.

Claim your free website audit, right now:

Simply enter your details above for your free, no-obligation website report!

What am I looking for?

There are many things you should look for when running a website audit. Sometimes it’s worth going into more detail, but these are the primary action points:

  • Missing H1, H2, H3 and H4 tags
  • Canolicalisation
  • Keyword optimisation
  • Metadata
  • Duplicate pages/posts
  • Broken links

And, so much more. With each report, you will receive a complete list of action points that we can discuss with you, free of charge. You’ll know exactly what should be accounted for before you progress with your website redesign. This service gives you a complete understanding of what is working on your existing site and what you can do to improve.

Step 3: No-index your new site

It’s so painstakingly simple, but so many web developers miss this essential step. When building a new website, you are working with a copy of your existing site. That means everything is a duplicate.

Your images, pages and posts will all be active on your existing domain. Therefore, the content on your new site won’t have any value because it’s a duplicate. The original copy will be seen as the one that holds ‘true value.’ A site can be no-indexed easily with little effort – it’s a simple tick box. On WordPress, for example, go to ‘settings’ and tick the box that says ‘Discourage search engines from indexing this site.’

No-index section in preparation for a website redesign.

This will automatically insert some code into the heading of every page. If you don’t have a CMS, you will have to manually insert this for yourself.

Step 4: Crawl your new site

You need to crawl your new website to see if everything is in place and ready for the go live. Using platforms like Moz or Screaming Frog, you can find out just about everything you need at the click of a button. It will give you a breakdown of internal and external links, content and more technical aspects like schema and canonical tags. The data you should look out for include:

404 errors: If a page is a 404 it means that page no longer exists. To rectify this issue, you’ll first need to create a URL on the staging site. From there, you can redirect the URL on your existing site to the newly created URL. Make sense? Yes, brilliant.

Here’s an example of a 404 error page:

404 error found after a website redesign.

Don’t forget that when you redirect a page, you lose around 10-20% of link equity. But you are telling Google to transfer the positive reputation of your existing site to your new one.

Rankings: Despite following all the above steps, you will still need to keep an eye on rankings. There has been a considerable shakeup with your website, and you should check that everything operates like clockwork. In theory, if you have switched to a powerful CMS, SEO-friendly plug-ins, and fixed any existing problems, you should move up the ranks.

Content: Don’t delete any content unless necessary. You might think older blog posts don’t add much to your current site, but they are giving you authority you didn’t know existed. Similarly, you may be tempted to re-write your landing page content – out with the old, and in with the new, right? Now is not the time to play around with your existing content, especially if you’re enjoying a spell of highly ranked pages.

Index your site: The final, and crucial step, is to ensure search engines can find, crawl and index your site. Switch back on indexing (found in the same location as above). Whichever method you use to block it, use the same to switch it back on.

Website redesign services

How do you approach a website redesign? Did you find this article helpful? If so, please let us know your thoughts. We’d be happy to offer advice over the phone if you are planning a redesign. Speak to our professional internet marketing team on 01226 720 755. Alternatively, you can send your questions to enquiries@bigfootdigital.co.uk – we love a good chat!