How To Redesign A Website Without Impacting Search Engine Ranking
Are you thinking of doing a website redesign? Companies ordinarily revamp their websites every two to three years. Many website owners are hesitant to redesign their sites for fear of losing their SEO ranking. After investing so much time and energy into your digital marketing, it’s understandable that you’d want to keep your ranks.
While doing a website redesign may help you increase your search rankings, and efficiency, and acquire your target consumers, a badly done website redesign might have devastating repercussions, such as decreased online traffic and revenue loss.
The thing is, people’s choices vary with time, and the longer you wait to redesign your website, the more dated it will appear. Furthermore, contemporary design strategies frequently enhance the functionality and user experience of your site. Redesigning your website will not only make it appear more current and trendy, but it will also make your visitors pleased. And more leads equals happy visitors!
So if you’re considering doing a website redesign, there are several things you can do to make sure it doesn’t affect your search rankings.
1. Use A Temporary Url Or A Production Server To Create Your Website Redesign
Making all of the modifications straight on your live website is not a good idea—you don’t want to degrade the user experience or risk-taking your live website down. As a result, the best course of action is to keep your old website up and running till the new website is ready to be unveiled to the public. Therefore, setting up a temporary URL is the first step in your website redesign. This allows you to test your new design while having no effect on the actual running site.
- ? WordPress or other similar CMS users can quickly clone their website on a separate domain or subdomain.
- ? Or, if you are using a custom CMS or are having your website created from the start, it is advisable to make a subdirectory on your website and install the new design there.
- ? If you are transitioning to a new CMS for your website redesign, you may easily stage your website redesign on a trial server.
This way, you can conduct all the modifications, updates, and design changes you want without affecting your consumer base by using a temporary URL or staging site. If you’ve decided to use a new CMS for your redesign, the staging site may also serve as a test platform for the CMS’s new features and style.
2. “No Index” Your Temporary Site
Keep your test website copy out of Google’s grasp and out of visitors’ eyes. This is significant because if your website is not yet to search engine optimized or has serious SEO difficulties before it goes live, you risk losing all of your hard-won SEO rankings. This is one of the most common mistakes people make when doing a website redesign – failing to “no index” the test or temporary site.
There are various methods to “no-index” your website. The first method is to include a Robotstag in the header of each page of the website to prevent Google from indexing the content. The other option is to limit access to your development website at the server level by using the .htaccess file to password-protect your web pages. As a result, anybody attempting to enter your website (including robots) will be required to submit a valid password. If you have a WordPress website, you can take advantage of ready-made tools and simply install a password-protect plugin to take care of the rest.
3. Go Through Your Old Website
The next step is to do a comprehensive website assessment or audit of your current site. This audit will help you in at least two ways:
- The audit will find any critical features on your site that have been generating traffic, leads, and sales to your company. This will guarantee that these important pages are not erased or, yet, damaged throughout the redesign process.
- An audit can also help you find components on your website that aren’t performing properly or are causing a bad user experience. An audit of your site will be helpful in identifying unwanted situations such as broken links or even tiny mistakes.
Some SEO issues that you should be particularly careful about when doing an audit are:
- ✔️ broken internal/external links
- ✔️ canonical tags
- ✔️ canonicalization
- ✔️ duplicate H1 tags
- ✔️ missing H1 tags
- ✔️ multiple H1 tags
- ✔️ duplicate meta descriptions
- ✔️ missing meta descriptions
- ✔️ duplicate page titles
- ✔️ missing page titles
- ✔️ image alt text
- ✔️meta descriptions over 923 pixels
- ✔️ page titles below 200 pixels
- ✔️ page titles over 512 pixels
4. Make The Required Changes
Once you have a ‘no-indexed’ temporary/test website, you can start the website redesign process without being concerned about the impact it will have on your SEO ranking.
Be careful about your SEO at each and every step of the way when you start the process of doing a website redesign. For instance, make sure that you have a strategy in order to preserve your strong backlink profile during the redesign if you used to have one. Or ensure that if you are intend to modify your current navigation structure, you have a plan for redirects in mind. In the big scheme of things, creating 404 pages ahead of time, evaluating links from incoming websites (you may use any free backlink checker for this), and having a strategy for 301 redirects will save you time and stress.
Take the trouble to map out your website redesign ahead of time and work with an expert SEO consultant to avoid any SEO concerns.
When changing your design, try and keep the content of your web pages as consistent as feasible. The hierarchy of your site pages and the URL structure are called your site structure. As a result, you should neither add nor delete any pages from your website nor should you alter the URLs. If you want to update the URL structure of certain of your pages, you’ll need to use 301 redirects. This can be difficult, but you can make it easy by using a plugin.
5. Do Content Optimization For Your Webpages
You will have to undertake an on-page examination of your content once your design adjustments are in effect. While doing a website redesign, try to keep the title, headers, meta-descriptions, and content body the very same. Creating a spreadsheet may also aid you in comparing the changes that occurred during the website redesigning exercise.
Don’t worry! The advantage of the testing process is that you may detect and fix any issues before your entire website goes online. If any mistakes arise during the testing period, make a note of them so you can rectify them before the launch. Keep an eye out for details such as alt text, broken links, internal linking, meta descriptions and titles, page speed, re-directs, and target keywords.
You should also ensure that your website is optimized for mobile devices, as mobile devices account for a major chunk of all internet traffic. Your overall SEO, as well as accessibility, will suffer if your mobile website is frequently slow.
6. Test Your New And Redesigned Website
After all of the designs, re-designs, modifications, and revisions, it is time to put your new site to the test. It’s a good idea to use your staging site to scan your test website and look for any issues that may have been generated during the website redesign process. Carefully going through your test website can help you uncover broken links in your site’s structure, examine page titles and meta descriptions, audit redirects, and identify duplicate content. Based on how effective your SEO technique was from the start, testing might take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
Just keep in mind that you should never overlook the testing stage!
7. Remove the No-Indexing and Launch Your Website
Remember to erase the no-index tags from your website before publishing it. This will guarantee that Google’s search bots start indexing your new pages, allowing you to start collecting fresh SEO data points. You just need to delete the code that was previously placed in the head section of your website and save the changes. If you don’t delete any indexing code, your site won’t show up in search results.
And then it is time to remove your new site from the staging environment and publish it to the live server. If everything appears to be in order, click the send button! Congratulations!
Note that it is very typical for minor glitches to arise following the launch. Just remember to keep an eye on your website after it’s been redesigned and optimize it as much as possible.
And those are all the steps for a successful website redesign.
While a website redesign can have an impact on your search engine ranking, the extent to which it does so relies on how effectively you implement the redesign and how well your website already performs in terms of SEO. Paying attention to your site structure and ensuring that all of your redirects are in place is the greatest approach to a website redesign without losing rank. A good website redesign may revamp your site and help in increasing user experience.
We hope this blog has given you some ideas on how to avoid an unsuccessful website redesign process and safeguard your search engine rankings.