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How to Avoid SEO Disaster When Redesigning Your Website

Written By Aaron

The Internet is changing all of the time. New trends and technologies are coming to the fore on a daily basis, and if you don’t keep your website up to date, you will only get left behind. 

However, redesigning your website is a delicate process. It needs to be done with caution. If you make changes with little thought, you could end up damaging your website’s search engine ranking. 

With that being said, below, I’ll explain how to redesign your website without losing SEO. 

Here’s Why You Need to Consider SEO in a Website Redesign

You may be wondering why SEO matters when it comes to website redesign. The truth is that a well-performing website could drop significantly in the search engine rankings if you don’t consider SEO during the redesign process.

Here are some of the ways SEO could be impacted if you do not factor it in during the redesign process:

  • You could lose links due to site architecture changes
  • Page speeds could slow down as a result of too many 301 redirects
  • Updated content can mess with page optimisation and keyword targeting

So, while website updates need to happen regularly, you also need to make sure you do not sabotage everything else that is working. 

To ensure this does not happen, let’s take a look at some of the key steps you need to follow:

Audit The Old Site

Auditing the old site is required to understand what was wrong with it, including what pages are ranking for and why. This will help to create a list of what to do right with the new website.

An SEO audit is a process of assessing how effectively your website presence relates to best practices. This is the first step in putting together an implementation plan that will have measurable results. 

Some of the steps to take when doing an SEO audit are as follows:

  • Crawl your site (Screaming Frog is good option and can be downloaded for free)
  • Perform a manual search on Google
  • Make sure only one version of your site is browseable
  • Carry out technical SEO checks on-site
  • Manage your external and internal links
  • Check the speed of your website
  • Check your website’s off-site SEO and perform a backlink audit

Content and Information Architecture

Both the context of the website subject matter overall and sub-topic your themes are critical to SEO success.

Changes to the information architecture, sitemap, and overall content plan in the redesign can impact SEO.

You need to ensure that the pages valuable to your SEO strategy are not omitted from your website going forward. You also need to ensure that the design does not dilute the theme and overall message of your website. 

You can use a crawling tool, like DeepCrawl or Screaming Frog, to locate all of the pages on your website. Then, work with your team from your current sitemap on the requirements for a new one. This will help to guide you through the remaining steps of the redesign process for SEO.

On-page Optimisations

It’s important that you maintain the relevance of the content. Work to protect or proactively optimise at the page level for the specific elements that help with relevance. This will include URL’s,  page titles, headers, meta descriptions, body copy, alt text, and so on.

You need to make sure that your target keyword is present in your URL and throughout the page. Tracking topics and keywords for every page will help you to keep on top of this. 

Back It Up

There’s a chance of data loss in a website redesign process, so it’s important to back the website up. If you do not back your website up, there is a chance that you will lose all of the hard work you have done so far, and this will undoubtedly have a negative impact on your SEO.

Backing up your website is the only way you can make sure you do not lose all of your work. If your website has an active blog or a lot of pages, you are not going to be able to recreate all of the content that you have worked so hard on. This means that all of your optimisation efforts will be lost as well. 

It does not need to be difficult to back up your website, as there are a lot of excellent online service providers that can help you with this. Online backups are effortless, and they also offer a quick site recovery with enhanced security protocols.

Create a Staging Environment

You should not directly make changes to the live website. Instead, a staging environment should be created, with a temporary URL to check everything first.

A staging environment provides you with many benefits, including the following:

  • It will protect you from code that does not work with a particular host
  • It will protect you from making fixes to your production environment
  • It will protect you from finger-pointing between developers and hosts
  • It will protect you from poor performance being a surprise

Ensure Proper Redirects

In the redesign process, there’s a good chance of having broken links. So it’s really important to ensure proper redirects.

After all, broken links are not only detrimental in terms of user experience, but they can be damaging in terms of your website’s relationship with Google. 

Redirects ensure that all users end up in the right place, rather than viewing the “sorry, you’re lost” message.

Re-configure Google Webmaster / Google Search Console

After a redesign, it’s important to reconfigure Google Search Console, including new sitemaps.

Sitemaps are critical because they efficiently inform search engines about the changes made to your website. Plus, a sitemap can also help with canonical URLs and website planning. 

You can also use tools like Google Search Console to make sure that you have not missed any broken links. 

Do a Post-Launch SEO Audit

You started the process with an SEO audit, and I recommend that you do another one once all of the changes have been made. An SEO audit will enable you to make sure that everything is working in the way you intended it to. If it’s not, you will be able to make changes quickly before they make a significant detriment to your site and your rankings. After all, everything may seem fine on the surface, but it is not until you do an audit that you can really understand what is going on.

Monitor Changes

After the overhaul, it’s important to keep an eye on the performance data. That’ll tell what sort of impact the redesign has had on the SEO performance.

Remember; the Internet never remains stagnant. Changes are being made all of the time. Google is constantly working on improving its service, and this is why we see algorithm changes all of the time. 

What is working for your website today may not be working for your website in a year or two. This is why it is important to make sure that you continue to monitor changes and adapt your website accordingly. 

SEO Aspects to Keep in Mind When Building a New Website

Last but not least, there are a number of key SEO elements that you are going to need to keep in mind when you build a new website. This includes the following:

  • Make sure your website is mobile-friendly – Most people use their smartphones to access the Internet today. If your website is not mobile-friendly, viewers will only get frustrated and go elsewhere, impacting your site as a result.
  • Optimise your website for speed right off the bat – Your website needs to be quick to load. The Internet is all about convenience today. People are not prepared to wait.
  • Ensure navigation is intuitive – Your users should not have to think twice when using your website. If navigation is difficult and people cannot find what they are looking for, they will inevitably leave your website.
  • Optimise your site for voice search – Voice search is becoming more and more popular. Optimising your site for voice search with the likes of long-tail keywords is a must.
  • Add a blog – If you do not have a blog already, you should add one. Did you know that websites that have blogs have 434 per cent more indexed web pages when compared with those that don’t?


So there you have it: an insight into the steps you need to take to make sure that SEO is carefully considered throughout the website redesign process. 

From conducting an SEO audit to using a staging environment, follow the above advice to make sure your rankings do not suffer during a website redesign. 

If you’re looking for a reputable Web Design Studio in Hobart backed by 20+ years of design and SEO know how, then contact the team at Web Design Hobart today!

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