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Website Redesign SEO: Without Losing SEO Rankings

Looking to redesign your website but worried about a drop in SEO rankings? Here’s a detailed guide on website redesign SEO that answers the most critical questions.

Photo of Brodey Sheppard
Brodey Sheppard
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Web-users’ tastes change with time, and your website appearance needs to follow suit. Revamping your old website can have multiple benefits.

For starters, a website redesign can help improve your conversion rates, enhance the visitor experience, and much more. However, it can also have a negative effect: a significant drop in SERP rankings.

This can be due to multiple reasons, such as URL restructuring, content optimisation, and domain name changes. Whatever the case, there’s a significant chance of your website SEO being affected negatively due to a redesign.

Website Redesign SEO Checklist

That’s why you should make sure that SEO is an integral part of your website redesigns.

To help you do just that, today we’re going to take an in-depth look at the multiple aspects of website redesign SEO. And along the way, we’re also going to answer some of the important questions you might have regarding website redesign SEO. So, make sure you stick around till the end.

Can a Website Redesign Negatively Affect SEO?

Yes and No. If you’re lucky, the changes that you implement on your website during a redesign can very well boost your rankings. But when it comes to website SEO you don’t really want to depend on luck, do you?

In most cases, changing a website’s structure will result in a significant drop in its search engine ranking. This means even if you have the best-looking website in the world, searchers will not be able to find it.

As a result, you’ll lose valuable traffic and the opportunity to convert visitors.

Search rankings and traffic are directly correlated; the latest estimates suggest that almost 75% of all users don’t go past the first page of search results. And from among this number, the top three results attract the most clicks.

From the above figures, you can understand how search engine rankings and traffic are closely related. True, you can attract traffic to your website using paid search engine marketing. But this involves a significant investment in terms of time as well as money. Also, the results stop precisely when your campaign does.

On the other hand, website redesign SEO seeks to incorporate SEO features during the website SEO redesign itself. From crafting a suitable link structure to on-page content optimisation, website redesign SEO helps to make sure your website redesign is accepted positively by the search engines.

And the best part is since such SEO is integrated within your website architecture, the results persist over the long term. This way, search engines, as well as visitors, can quickly find your website.

Needless to say, the enhanced visibility works in your favour, and also improves user experience.

Advantages of Incorporating SEO during Website Redesign

Now you know that website redesign SEO can help your business get more visitors and increase leads and sales. However, that’s not the only reason why you should incorporate SEO within your website redesign.

In this section, we will discuss some more advantages of why website redesign SEO is a must for any business.

1. Your SEO is Built Into Your Website Architecture

We’ve already mentioned this in passing before, but now it’s time to take a closer look. Often, performing SEO on an existing site becomes challenging as its architecture doesn’t lend itself to proper indexing by search engines. Granted, there are on-page optimisations that can help, but these can only take you so far.

A new site, or a website redesign, is one of the best opportunities to make sure that on-page SEO is integrated into your site.

The frontend, as well as the backend of your website, can be optimised for visitors and search engines alike. Such optimisations include page speed improvements, better navigation, and structured internal links, to name a few.

A big one to note is your user-experience, to maintain ranking positions your UX and UI should be strongly considered upon the design. Following the design is perfected, strong backend architecture should be implemented for performance, specifically “Cumulative Layout Shift” which will negatively affect your rankings.

Web Core Vital Variables

When your entire new site architecture is crafted with SEO in mind, you make sure that your search engine rankings are higher. However, SEO doesn’t target only search engines. At the same time, you’re also working to ensure that the website is better navigable by humans.

2. You Can Take Advantage Of Existing Optimisations

It’s no secret that effective SEO can go a long way towards improving your website’s search engine rankings. However, even after spending huge sums on SEO, a single thoughtless redesign can dash it all to the ground.

This can be avoided when you include SEO efforts in your redesign process. Carrying out website redesigns with SEO in mind ensures that whatever you’ve spent towards SEO to date is not flushed down the drain. And you can also make sure that your new site doesn’t have to start from the bottom of the search engines’ ranking ladder.

3. Improve Your ROI

Carrying out website redesigns can be a costly task. So, you naturally want to make sure that you get the desired returns on your investment. Incorporating SEO into the process is one of the ways you can achieve this.

When you carry out redesigns on your old site and apply optimisations such as improving page speeds, your website becomes more acceptable to search engines. This way, your new site can attract more visitors, enhance sales, and provide greater returns on your investment.

All these advantages add up to one thing: better exposure for your business. And in case you’re like most businesses, the primary purpose of your website redesign is to grow your bottom line. The trouble is, the exact opposite can happen when you ignore SEO during the redesign process.

So, whether you’re creating a new site or revamping your old site, you want to make sure that your website redesign agency keeps SEO in mind at every step of the way.

This can often mean more time is needed for the launch of your new site. But believe us, the wait is certainly worth the results.

Most Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid During the Website Redesign Process

Today, you have many tools at your disposal that make website redesign a simple task. Simultaneously, services such as Google Search Console and Google Analytics have made actionable insights available to professionals.

All these advantages have made website redesign a much simpler task than before.

Despite the advantages, there are many SEO related mistakes that professionals can commit during a website redesign.

In this section, we’re going to take a brief look at some of the most significant ones that you should avoid.

Keep in mind though, this is not an exhaustive list.

1. Not Setting Proper Goals

Revamping a website just for the sake of redesign is never a good idea. Yet, goal-less website redesigns are more common than you’d think.

Many businesses decide to change their website only because others are doing it as well. Or maybe you’re just tired of looking at the same website every day.

Website Traffic Goals

Whatever the case, not setting proper goals during a website redesign can make your new website miss out on essential SEO touchpoints. As a result, your rankings plummet and take your profit graph along for a ride.

That’s why, before starting the redesign process itself, you should know the purpose your new website will serve.

Do you want to improve general awareness about your business? Or is getting more leads and sales your primary target? Setting out and sticking to clear goals can help your SEO efforts.

At the same time, this also improves user experience and helps search engines index pages better.

2. Incorrect Use of Redirects

Redirects are an essential part of any website redesign process. These are simple directions to search engines for finding content where the URL has changed.

One of the most common and avoidable mistakes you can make here is confusing permanent 301 redirects with temporary 302 redirects.

301 Vs 302 Redirect

Even if you’re using a permanent 301 redirect, they might redirect search engines incorrectly. The best way to overcome this is to redirect old versions of pages to the new versions with the same keywords.

This is a much better option than just sending traffic to your homepage or latest blog post.

3. Failure to Submit a Sitemap

This is a rookie mistake, and many people still make it. When you’re redesigning a website, it’s essential that you submit a sitemap to all major search engines such as Bing and Google. A sitemap will help search engines index your website pages better.

The sitemap describes the entire site’s URL structure and should help search engines better understand your website’s organisation. Sitemaps are usually in XML format, and you can visit a search engine’s webmaster tool to submit the XML sitemap.

4. Not Intimating Search Engines About a Domain Change

Just think about it a bit: you wouldn’t change your business or residential address without informing the post office, right? So, why would you think that changing the domain name when setting up a new site will not affect rankings and traffic?

After all, your website URL is your business’ address on the web. So, it makes sense that when you change it, search engines have to be informed.

Apart from not submitting an XML sitemap, failing to inform search engines about a domain change is the next critical mistake that you can make.

To update your new domain, visit the Google Search Console and submit the request for a change of address. From the search console itself, you can check your website’s search status.

You can also use Google Analytics data to determine whether your SEO efforts are reaping benefits.

5. Incorrect Use of Robots.txt

A search engine uses software bots called “robots” or “spiders” to crawl and index your web pages. In case you don’t want specific pages to be indexed by a search engine, you need to specify the same in the robots.txt file of your website.

However, incorrect use of the robots.txt file can lead to SEO mishaps. For instance, you might accidentally tell the search engine to block your homepage from getting indexed. This results in your site becoming virtually invisible on the SERPs.

To ensure that your entire URL structure is indexed, ask your SEO expert to make the required changes in the robots.txt file and the XML sitemap.

6. Not Focusing On Social Shares While Creating Content

During website redesigns, most agencies tend to focus more on internal links and site-specific technicalities. However, the content that you’re putting on the new web pages is equally important.

When creating content for every page, you need to focus more on social shareability.

Social shares not only improve the user experience but also have a significant impact on SEO. Digital marketing experts agree that a greater number of social shares drives organic traffic.

Social Network Preference Signals

Along with that, it also helps to create a greater number of backlinks to your site and encourages word of mouth publicity.

7. Not Using HTTPS

This is an all-too-common mistake when getting new URLs. If the hosting provider you’re using doesn’t provide secure HTTPS hosting, your site rankings will take a hit. And in case your site is flagged as unsafe, then search engines might even remove it from their index records.

That’s why, when migrating from the old hosting provider to a new one, you need to check if your content management system (CMS) and hosting provider offer HTTPS hosting.

Not getting it can result in your new URL and website design losing substantial traffic. You can opt for any popular CMS, such as WordPress, to get HTTPS hosting.

HTTPS Ranking Impact Graph

Image Credit: Neil Patel

These are only some of the mistakes you can make while migrating your current site to a new URL. Other’s include faulty web design, links pointing to a non-existent web page, haphazard URL structure, and much more.

So, how can you ensure that your web design goes according to SEO principles? That’s precisely what we’re going to tackle in the next section.

Website Redesign SEO Process in Easy Steps

From the above, you might think that a new site redesign is full of potential hurdles. While that’s true to a certain extent, expert digital marketing professionals can take care of the entire process.

Through effective digital marketing, your new site can get a positive SEO boost.

To help you get a clear idea of how to do this, here’s a simple outline of the process you can follow.

1. Perform a Detailed Analysis of Your Old Site

Before jumping into the fray and redesigning your old site, you need to gauge its performance. Take a look at your ranking and traffic for the most important keywords. You also need to understand important metrics such as domain authority, total search traffic, and the revenue you get from organic search.

This information will help you understand which parts of your website are working, and which are not. You can then start to redesign your current site preserving the parts which are working, and changing those which are not.

Try these tools for SEO Audits:

While you’re collating this data, you have to ensure that your link profile is healthy. Run a complete check of all backlinks and identify low-quality links that search engines might see as spammy.

Improving upon all this can help enhance your link quality, bring essential pages to the fore, and boost search traffic above all.

Here’s what an audit looks like on our site:

SEMrush:

Sitecentre Semrush Site Audit

ahrefs:

Sitecentre Ahrefs Site Audit

2. Carry Out a Content Audit

The content audit is a part of the site analysis process. Here, you need to understand which content pages have the most value from an SEO perspective. To do this, focus on the social shares, inbound links, and number of views that each site page has.

Also important is to understand which pages are more keyword-rich and how they contribute to organic traffic. Pages that have high-value, keyword-rich content can boost organic traffic and organic search rankings.

You need to preserve these pages and their content during the redesign, otherwise, your SEO can get negatively affected.

Focus on Google E-A-T and improving your websites’ score whilst designing your new website. E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authority and Trust, ensuring your content covers these 3 primary categories can boost your rankings.

3. Set Your SEO Goals

After you’ve carried out the above two steps, you should have a clear idea of which parts of the old site need changing. Now is the time to set your SEO goals; this is vital as we’ve already explained above. Without a proper set of goals, your redesign will go awry.

In this step, you need to decide what you intend to achieve with your SEO efforts.

Do you want greater rankings on the SERPs? Or perhaps an increase in organic traffic is what you need? Based on the answers to these questions, you need to decide how to redesign your site pages and create new content.

4. Keyword Based Content Optimisation

Despite what the world may think, search engine technology still revolves around keywords. That’s why, to get to your SEO targets, every page must incorporate a few keywords relevant to your business. This way, you’ll increase your chances of getting noticed on the SERPs.

The process for keyword-based content optimisation begins with-you guessed it-keyword research. Once you’ve determined the most relevant keywords, use on-page SEO techniques to boost your page-level rankings.

A good idea is to include the most important keyword in the title tags, meta descriptions, and URL, along with the page content.

Another tactic you can use to boost page-level rankings is to link out to related content. This way, readers from other pages can also find your site easily. However, optimising content in such a detailed manner will take time. So, be ready to invest the required effort, and keep checking keywords continuously for any relevant changes.

5. Focus on 301 Redirects

While you’re auditing your content, you’ll find several pages that aren’t doing much to contribute to your site’s value. For example, you can get rid of old service pages, blogs with redundant content, or pages currently bringing in no traffic.

To ensure that you get the maximum value from the redesign, you should redirect these pages to more relevant ones. This can be done using 301 redirects based on performance criteria and organic ranking.

You’ll also need to set up 301 redirects if you’re updating your URL structure. For example, consider using an SSL certificate, which is essential for SEO success. Here you’ll have to use 301 redirects to ensure any traffic from HTTP://yoursite.com is redirected to HTTPS://yoursite.com.

Using such redirects ensure that any visitors or even search bots that visit the low-value pages are redirected to the high-value ones.

This makes 301 redirects one of the essential SEO steps to carry out during a redesign.

6. Revamp Your Site Architecture

After you’ve taken care of any new page content, and updated the meta description for each, it’s time to focus on the next part of technical SEO, namely the site architecture. Google puts significant emphasis on site architecture, so you’ll need to ensure that your new site pages are appropriately structured.

How does site architecture impact SEO?

Let’s understand with a simple example: consider the case of your homepage. It’s the one page that links out to most pillar pages of your new site. So, since this page is central to your site architecture, Google gives greater importance to it. At the same time, a well-organised site is more easily navigable by your human visitors too.

7. Don’t Ignore Page Speed

In trying to improve content quality and link profiles, it’s easy to ignore another vital aspect of technical SEO: Page Speed. It’s common knowledge that the modern web user expects blazing speeds.

Research suggests that consumers expect a page to load in less than two seconds!

But even more important is the fact that Google now considers page speed as an important ranking factor. This means that unless your site pages are fast enough, your Google rankings are bound to take a hit.

To improve your page speed, consider using SEO-friendly tactics such as code minification, using caching plugins, and content distribution networks.

Sitecentre Page Speed Insights Report

Such technical SEO steps will help your website pages load faster and deliver content better. Not to mention boosting your Google ranks.

8. Test Extensively on a Temporary URL

You can carry out all the above steps on your existing site, but we recommend you don’t do that. Instead, make it a point to copy your site content to a temporary URL and then proceed with the changes. This way, your old site will remain active while you make changes to the new one.

Using a temporary URL can also prevent unwanted indexing of pages, and help you conduct tests without disturBing your current website. Then, once you’ve completed everything, you can switch to a new domain if needed.

Successful domain migration automatically leads to an increase in traffic.

9. Update the XML Sitemap

We’ve already seen how important a sitemap is to your SEO efforts. So, once all the design aspects are completed and you’re all ready to launch your site, be sure to update your sitemap.

As you know, this helps search engines understand the crawl structure of your site and index it better.

Take a look at our sitemap designed for the sitecentre site using Lucidchart.

Sitecentre Sitemap Graphic

10. Use Webmaster Tools

In this final step, you need to use Google (or any other relevant search engine) Webmaster tools to check if all the changes have been carried out successfully. Using this tool, you can check for problems such as broken links and also submit your sitemap.

Then all that’s left to do is check your website’s crawl status, verify the website as yours (you might need to provide your phone number for this), and resubmit the new URL to Google.

And you’re done! Of course, we’re sure you realise that the above steps are only a broad overview of everything that you need to do.

For a detailed list of steps that you can follow, please click here.

Even after making the new site live and ensuring that all the links are working correctly, don’t forget to perform periodic checks. Changing a website’s design isn’t a one-off process, and you need to monitor performance and make design changes wherever needed continuously.

Website Redesign SEO Tips To Live By

Before we wrap up our discussion, here are a few SEO tips that you need to follow when you’re changing your site’s design.

  • Incorporate mobile-friendly features in the design.
  • Focus on getting a few “Rich Snippets.”
  • Try to incorporate video elements and corresponding SEO tactics.
  • Optimise your site design for Voice Search.
  • Never start creating content from scratch; focus on repurposing if possible.
  • Remember to update outbound links.
  • Create a solid internal linking profile.

You can also check out this list of trouble-free redesign practices.

Final Thoughts on SEO for Redesigns

Redesigning a website is much more than just changing a bit of colour and font styles. It’s a significant technical task that needs careful execution. There are numerous aspects to look after during the process, along with SEO incorporation on the important pages.

However, if done rightly, you can get massive benefits from your efforts.

Just remember not to make any of the mistakes outlined above, and follow our ten-step guideline. And in case you’re an expert in need of a more detailed, stepwise guide, be sure to check out this article. We’re sure you’ll find it useful in your website redesign SEO efforts.


Photo of Brodey Sheppard

Brodey Sheppard

Brodey is the CEO of sitecentre and a data-analyst in the SEO, Paid advertising space who uses machine learning and AI to advance sitecentre as an industry-leading digital marketing agency across Australia.

Find them on their website: sitecentre, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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