Web trends change fast, and every year or so, you should be redesigning your site to keep up with online consumer tastes. It doesn’t matter whether you run a small business or you keep a hobby blog; your site will benefit from a regular update to its look and feel. However, before you toss your website’s old code in the bin, you should stop and think about what a redesign does to your search engine rankings.
Without proper preparation, redesigning your site could actually cost you when it comes to audience attraction because new content and links might disrupt your established redirects and ruin prior SEO efforts. This handy guide will explain what you can do to maintain your established SEO while modernizing your tired, old website.
The Usual Suspects
Though there are a number of changes that could affect your search engine rankings, the two most frequent culprits are your content and your links.
Though you might spend more time, effort, and funds on building good visual design on your website, the text content of every page is truly what leads Web searchers to your doorstep. Every page contains words and phrases that search engines use to understand what your site is about. You might not realize it, but updating descriptions of products or even the greeting on your homepage could alter your website’s keywords, shifting your position on results pages. Alternatively, different methods of design and development can change how search engines hunt through website content; for example, Google has notoriously had difficulty crawling content created through AJAX applications.
Additionally, the modifying of URLs often causes SEO problems for websites undergoing redesigns. Good online marketers understand the power of integrating links into content outside of their own sites; social media marketing, guest posting, document sharing, and other efforts increase a website’s authority and increases its position on search engine result pages. However, website redesigns usually entail a great amount of culling and renaming of pages ― to make URLs more human-friendly, more descriptive, or more appropriate for a new management system ― which directly impacts the utility of your links around the Web.
The SEO Basics
Of course, if this is your first small-business website, all this information about keywords and link-building might sound like a foreign language. Without a foundational understanding of the power of SEO marketing, you will find it dramatically more difficult to combat an impending drop in your website’s search engine ranking. Thus, before you even think about redesigning your site, you would do well to take a crash course in all things SEO.
The subject is much too broad to completely address here, but you will find a number of amazing resources for SEO novices all over the Web. Some of the absolute best come from the most prominent digital marketing blogs, like Moz and Kissmetrics. At Blog Herald, we often post blogs on SEO topics, including changes to the field, tips for different industries, and useful tools for
SEO beginners, so once you have a grasp of the basics, you can continue to learn from us.
Steps to SEO Safety
Fortunately, the steps to safeguard your website from an SEO plunge aren’t long or complicated. In fact, being aware of the possible dangers is more than half of the effort to protect your rankings.
As you are beginning the process of redesigning your site, you should:
- Know your most popular pages. Undoubtedly, some pages on your website are dramatically more popular than others. These are the pages you want to preserve ― or at least have working redirects so your SEO authority isn’t damaged during the redesign. If you aren’t already using an analytics system like Google Analytics to track individual pages’ performance, you should get one now. It’s imperative to know which pages you need to be sure don’t have issues during a redesign.
- Compile a list of changed URLs. The URLs you rename shouldn’t just disappear. Instead, you should take note of every page and create redirects for them. Then, any and all links that lead to your site will stay live, helping your search engine rankings.
- Weave strong content. Every word of content on your site should be woven with an eye on your SEO strategy. Copywriters are adept at seamlessly integrating important keywords while improving the quality and tone of your site’s content. As long as you are confident that new content contains valuable keywords, your site should survive the removal of old, unnecessary content.