A whopping 90% of people will leave a poorly-designed website, and they make that decision in just 0.05 seconds.
If your website is not performing well in keyword rankings, or worse, getting traffic but no conversions, redesigning your website could be helpful. Here’s an in-depth website redesign SEO checklist to help you redesign your website without losing, SEO.
Redesigning a website includes revamping your website to give it a new look and feel. It involves creating new layouts, updating content, and improving navigation for better site performance, user experience, and conversions.
The amount of change occurring during website design can vary from business to business. Some companies make minor changes to their websites to upgrade their aesthetic appeal or user experience. Other companies conduct full-fledged site revamping, which includes changing the logo, color palette, navigation buttons, and even the content.
Why Should You Redesign Your Website?
Businesses that rely on their website to drive conversions should make website redesign a regular practice. The website has become an essential touchpoint for companies in this internet era. Hence, if your website doesn’t offer an optimum experience to the visitors, they won’t engage with your brand. In fact, 88% of consumers won’t return to a website after an unpleasant experience.
Website redesign is an effective method to address and overcome website issues. Let’s look at some benefits of redesigning a website.
Redesigning your website is more cost-effective than building a new website from scratch. You can keep many elements from your existing website and revamp those that need improvement.
Your website is the face of your brand online. Hence, it must align with your brand’s identity. A website redesign allows you to review the branding elements of your site and ensure a cohesive brand identity.
New Content Strategy
With content marketing becoming increasingly popular among brands, having a robust content strategy is essential. Redesigning your website enables you to devise a new content strategy and discover new ways to enhance your brand’s digital presence.
Better Site Experience
Since website visitors won’t return after a bad experience, it’s critical for companies to provide remarkable website experiences. Website redesign includes replacing outdated design with new design, resulting in better navigation and user experience.
Responsiveness is one of the essential qualities that determine a website’s success. Since over 60% of internet traffic comes from mobile devices, responsiveness is crucial for websites. Website redesign allows you to make your website more responsive and user-friendly.
Better Site Performance
Did you know that 37% of your website visitors will bounce if your site takes over five seconds to load? Website load speed significantly impacts purchasing decisions. Redesigning your website is an effective way to improve website speed and performance.
Cybercrime is on the rise, making it more important than ever for businesses to secure their websites. Website redesign allows you to discover hidden security risks and eliminate them immediately.
Redesign SEO Checklist: How to Ensure SEO During Website Redesign?
Website redesigning has many benefits. However, the website redesign process includes substantial changes to your site. These changes can affect your SEO strategy. It is, therefore, essential to keep search engine optimization in check during a site redesign.
Here is a comprehensive SEO checklist you can follow to ensure your redesigned website retains the search engine rankings.
Evaluate Your Website’s Search Engine Rankings and Set New Goals
The first step of the redesign SEO strategy is to analyze your website and conduct an SEO audit. Here are a few things to audit:
Performance on search engines and its existing search engine rankings
Factors like page speed, bounce rate, increase in traffic, conversion rate, etc.
URL structure and identification of any irrelevant or low-quality links
Based on your audit results, create new goals for your website. Are there any areas where your website could do better?
For instance, Google recommends 2 seconds as the ideal page load speed, though anything under 5 seconds is good. If your site takes longer than that, improving site speed should be one of your website redesign objectives.
Create an Inventory of Your Pages, Especially Performing Content
A website redesign can sometimes go wrong. In such cases, you’ll need to go back to the original website. Therefore, it’s essential to take inventory of all pages from your existing website, so you can restore those pages.
Also, identify pages that bring the most organic traffic to your site. These could be blog posts, static pages, video pages, landing pages, or research reports. Since these pages contribute most to your SEO, you must keep them. Losing these pages can severely affect your site SEO. Hence, taking an inventory of them is essential.
There are several ways to take inventory of your pages. You can use the XML sitemap, a crawler, or the Google Search Console to get a list of all your website pages.
Once you identify the best-performing pages on your site, minimize the changes you make to them. Since they’re already performing well, there’s no reason to change them. You can tweak the design of the pages if needed, but let the content of the web pages remain the same.
Redesign Your Website
Once you have audited your existing website, set new goals, and taken an inventory of existing pages, begin the web redesign process. However, it’s crucial to make design changes on a staging site (also known as a test site or dev site) and not on the primary site.
There are three reasons to create a new design on a staging site:
You don’t want your website visitors to engage with your website during the redesign process.
Search engines may crawl the incomplete version of your site.
You may not be happy with the redesigned site and want to return to the original version.
Implementing the redesign in a staging environment lets you avoid all these problems. Also, turn on the “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” option in the Search Engine Visibility section to prevent search engines from indexing your redesigned site. You can turn it off once your site is live.
Test Your Redesigned Website
Once your redesigned website is ready, run some tests to check if it aligns with your objectives. This process is also known as redesign audit. The time needed to audit the new site will depend on the changes you make.
If your redesign process included only a few design and branding changes, there wouldn’t be much to audit. However, the audit will be significant if you have made substantial changes to the design, content, meta descriptions, URL structures, etc.
When auditing your new site, see if the new version meets your website goals. For instance, if your website was loading slowly, check if the new version has a faster loading speed.
Set Up 301 Redirects and Resolve 404s
Setting up 301 redirects is one of the essential aspects of site redesign SEO. This step is vital if you have changed your URL structure or created new pages to replace older ones. By setting up 301 redirects, you preserve the SEO value of your old page by transferring it to the new URL.
When you have 301 redirects, the older version of your page shows up in the search results, but clicking on it will direct you to the newer version. 301 redirects also make search engines understand that the change is permanent. Hence, implementing 301 redirects is crucial in website design.
Another important thing to address during the website redesign process is 404 errors. A 404 error means the page doesn’t exist. If you see that error, it’s likely because of broken links, or you have deleted the page associated with that URL. The last thing you want is search engine crawlers to crawl up pages with 404 errors.
You can fix 404 errors by setting up 301 redirects from those pages, as discussed previously.
Additionally, look for any other errors, like duplicate meta descriptions, duplicate content, technical SEO problems, etc.
Upgrade Your Site Architecture and Performance
The next step in the website redesign process is to update your site structure and architecture. This step involves organizing all pages of your site to create seamless navigation and the best experience for your visitors.
Ideally, the homepage should be the front page of your site, and it should link to other important pages, like Contact, About, Services, Testimonials, Blog, and more. These pages should have internal links to more pages to give a proper structure to your website. If your previous website version was unorganized, ensure that the new site’s hierarchy is well-structured.
Set Up Google Search Console and Update XML
At this step, you need to take care of the technical aspects of your web redesign SEO. Once your new site is live, update its XML sitemap and submit it to Google, Bing, and other search engines. Make sure your robots.txt file links to your new website’s sitemap. Search engines crawl your website when you add the sitemap to the robots.txt file.
It’s also essential to submit your redesigned website’s URL to the Google Search Console to further enhance the site crawl process. Every modern-day content management system (CMS) allows you to update sitemaps and XML sites from one place.
Monitor the New Site’s Performance on Search Engines
Now that your new site is live, you need to monitor its performance and SEO changes. The key performance indicators (KPIs) you track will depend on your goals. If your aim was to increase search traffic, you could monitor metrics like SEO rankings, new inbound links, etc. If you want to improve page optimization, load speed and bounce rate would be helpful metrics to track.
You can also maintain a search engine journal to compare the performance of your old and new websites.
Some Website Design Errors to Avoid
There are certain mistakes you must avoid when redesigning your website. These mistakes can be costly and adversely affect your SEO efforts. Learning about these mistakes and avoiding them will help you preserve your page rankings and ensure SEO success.
Here are some mistakes to avoid:
Not Taking Inventory of Your Successful Content
For most websites, especially those with a blog, most traffic comes from a few successful blog posts or other pages. When you redesign your site, not keeping your successful content is a big mistake that could damage your SEO efforts. If a blog post or research report brings a lot of traffic and valuable backlinks, be sure to take an inventory of it.
Overlooking Page Load Speed
Website redesign often focuses on enhancing the aesthetic appeal of the website. It includes adding new visual elements, videos, and illustrations. This could make your site media-rich, which will reduce its page load speed. Don’t overlook page-level optimization and ensure that you prioritize page load speed and site performance.
Not Redirecting URLs
As mentioned, 301 redirects allow preserving your old site’s SEO. Unexpected 404 errors can be a major turnoff for website visitors, and it also sends a bad signal to Google. Hence, don’t forget to redirect URLs before going live with your new site.
Not Paying Attention to Mobile Friendliness
With most internet traffic coming from mobile devices, mobile-friendliness is an essential SEO attribute. Your website may look great on desktop, but if it doesn’t load properly on mobile devices, it’ll create a negative SEO impact. So, don’t overlook mobile-friendliness and ensure every page on your site is responsive.
In this digital era, when most people search for businesses online, your website is the face of your company. It needs to be professional, engaging, and user-friendly. Website redesigning is an effective way to upgrade your website and improve its SEO capabilities while preserving its existing SEO benefits. Since SEO is constantly changing, companies should redesign their website at least once a year.
Dave is an Emmy-Award® winning web designer/developer and has worked in the digital media industry in both newspaper and broadcast television since 1999. He has also worked as an Art Director for a medium-sized advertising agency in the South Florida market and TheeDigital's customers' are benefiting from his talent these days.