If you’re considering a redesign of your website you’ll need to make sure that special care is taken to preserve your current search engine presence. Coding errors, poor design practices, and failure to redirect URL’s when renaming pages can wipe out the SEO gains your website has made over the years.
1. Document your current results.
When considering a website redesign one of the first steps to take is finding out how your website currently ranks for its’ target keywords. You’ll need to perform a quick inventory of your current search results for your chosen keywords, and document them.
Try to keep track of your search engine results for your targeted keywords on a quarterly basis.
For instance, if you’re a financial advisor in Tempe, AZ you’ll want to document search results (the page and listing number in the search results) for “financial planner Tempe, AZ”, “financial advisor Tempe, AZ”, and as many other related terms as you have time to document.
You’ll use this documentation to make sure your newly redesigned website doesn’t fall from the ranks, or perhaps better; improves your ranking for the target keywords.
2. Improve the coding and page load times.
A website redesign gives you the opportunity to improve the coding of the website and improve page load times, both of which will improve your search engine results.
3. Keep the development website out of the search engines.
Keep the development website excluded from search engine results by using a robots.txt file with a deny all setting. If your development site starts showing up in search engine results, your newly launched website is a duplicate in the eyes of the search engine, and duplicate content will adversely effect your search engine rankings.
4. If a page address (URL) changes add a 301 redirect.
It’s often a good idea to rename web pages and their addresses (URL) during a redesign. If this is done, all renamed pages must have a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new URL to let search engines know what happened to the formerly ranked old page.
If pages get condensed into a single new page, redirect all of the old pages to the new one.
5. Make sure analytics code gets placed before the new website goes live.
Be sure that your analytic tracking code (Google Analytics) is placed in the code before the site goes live.
In conclusion, the redesign process can improve your search engine ranking but special care needs to be taken to at the very least preserve your current results.