Recently, we wrote a blog about why you might need a website redesign. We received some questions after that from worried business owners. The biggest one was “Can I redesign my website without losing SEO ranking?” Obviously, if you have a website that Google and Bing already like, you would be reluctant to give up those rankings (even if your website is looking stale). And the fact is, you shouldn’t have to put up with a stale website just to keep your SEO. You should have both a fresh, customer-oriented website AND great SEO. We are huge believers in the power of SEO, so much so that we have a certified SEO expert working tirelessly behind the scenes of every website design we do. So can you redesign a website without losing SEO ranking? The answer is yes—but it takes some work and planning.
The first step to SEO-friendly website redesign is to get an SEO expert on your team. Ideally, you want the website designers, the SEO expert and the company management all on the same page. Here at Affordable Web Design, our design team and our SEO team work together as a rule. The secret is that SEO should actually be part of the design in the first place—part of the site architecture—not something that is slapped onto the website at the end. So before you even think of taking down your old website, make sure to have the right team in place.
Next, you need a thorough evaluation of how your old website is doing in terms of SEO; and we mean each and every page. There are several tools we can use to evaluate the SEO success of each page on the website, including Google Analytics, MOZ Analytics, RavenTools, Wordtracker, SEM Rush, Majestic SEO, Link Research Tools, and others. We need this initial analysis to determine what SEO strategies are currently working for your website, and what things are not working. That way, we can design the new website without losing SEO rankings—and hopefully we can even improve those rankings through the redesign process!
When work begins on the new website, it is critically important that all of the new work be stored in a location that is not available for Google or any other searchers to crawl and index. The reason is that if Google notices duplications in text elements (even honest duplications in the case of migrating text from an old to a new website), it will penalize them. So both the old and the new website cannot exist out on the public web at the same time—and just as importantly, both the new and the old websites need to be backed up religiously to prevent utter catastrophes.
During the website redesign phase, build the insights gathered from the initial SEO analysis in step 2 into the new website. Keep the keywords that are working, ditch the ones that aren’t and replace them with content that works better. Make sure the design team and the SEO folks are synchronized. Everyone needs to work together to develop fresh, new and useful content that customers old and new can use, whether they are surfing from a smartphone or their old desktop computer.
Take advantage of the website redesign opportunity to build in responsive web design: mobile-friendly web design can actually enhance your SEO success if done correctly—and besides, mobile web design is essential to your success in the future.
When the new website has been tested, tested and retested and is ready to go, your website design team should ensure that all 301 redirect pages are in place and that your old customers will be able to find what they need easily—and that potential new customers can easily find you on a search engine!
Here at Affordable Web Design, we have a highly-coordinated team experienced in website design and redesign with an eye toward SEO success. To learn more about how you can redesign your website without losing SEO ranking—and actually improve it in the process, contact Affordable Web Design today!