Redesigning your website is something that needs to be done every now and again, you don’t really want a web design that looks like it is stuck in the 2000’s. While there can be some resistance to change at first, as users are starting to get used to the new design, it will be worth it in the long run (if you get it right).
Yes, there is a risk of getting it wrong, that is why it is vital that you take the migration to a new website very seriously and meticulously plan out every step – or get your SEO Sydney agency to help. That way you know you are doing all you can to make the process as smooth as possible.
Get the new design of your website right and it can work wonders for your SEO. Get it wrong and you could watch as your rankings take a hammering. So take a look below at the steps you need to take to ensure that the redesign process of your website goes smoothly and doesn’t have a negative impact on SEO.
1. List of pages (old to new)
A new web design could mean a new page structure and the last thing you want is users to be getting 404 errors on your brand new website. This will frustrate both users and search engine bots and could see your rankings suffer because of it.
Therefore, you should make a list of all the pages on your website currently, as well as what the pages on your website will be after the new design kicks in. If you will be changing URL structures you will need to be very careful here to ensure no errors.
This can be quite time consuming, so it could be in your best interest to use a tool like Yoast SEO plugin, which allows you to crawl your website and download the sitemap.
2. Use a temporary URL
When in the process of redesigning your website, be sure to use a temporary URL. A proper web redesign can take a lot of time, so you don’t want to use your actual live URL as this could cause your website to go down, or produce quite a number of errors.
This process can be tricky, so it could be beneficial to get the assistance of a web developer, to ensure you are doing it correctly and no major issues will arise. Then, once your new website is ready and you have properly tested it, transfer it to your existing URL.
3. 301 redirects
301 redirects are essential, as they will automatically redirect any user or search engine bot that finds the old URL. Ensuring proper 301 redirects is important because if done incorrectly, it could lead to a 404 errors, and they are never good for your SEO.
You should spend a lot of time here ensuring everything is in order before moving on to the next step. Proper 301’s will ensure that your SEO doesn’t take a hit as bots will see the 301 and transfer all the SEO work from the old URL to the new redirect.
4. Check with Google Webmaster tools
Once you think everything is ready and you take the leap of faith and launch your new website, you will need to check with Google Webmaster to ensure that everything is going to plan.
Google Webmaster is awesome because it will help you pick up on any potential issues that you may have overlooked. It mainly helps you look for broken links and these issues should be fixed as soon as you can to avoid a penalty.
5. Confirm verification status
To check that Google bots can actually crawl your website, use Google Search Console in the “Fetch as Google” section and input your URL then click “Fetch and Render”. This will point you to any issues that need to be resolved.
6. Check robot.txt
Sometimes, during the redesign process, your robot.txt file can be corrupted. Therefore it is important to check that everything is okay. Under the same section as when your fetch and render, you can also check the validity of your robot.txt.
7. Resubmit sitemap
A new website design usually means a new structure which means your sitemap is going to be different then it was before. You need to remember to update your sitemap as well as submit the new version into Google Search Console. After submission, ensure there aren’t any errors that Google has picked up on.
8. Monitor changes
You can do all of the above steps, but sometimes it is something out of the blue that can throw a spanner into the works. Therefore, you should be monitoring your website very closely throughout the transition period for anything abnormal. This means you are able to act quickly in an issue arises.