A website redesign is an exciting opportunity for many brands and business owners. Websites today often act as a representative of the company itself, and potential customers might not feel as comfortable bringing their business if the first thing they see is a landing page that looks like it was created back in the 90s.
But before you start making some changes to your website, take into consideration some key SEO Sydney factors. If your website’s been around for a while, it will have no doubt scored a rather impressive ranking over time, and you really do not want to throw it all away.
Luckily, we’re always here to help you.
What to Do before Your Redesign
Redesigning your website doesn’t necessarily mean you have to completely let go of all the elements of the previous one. There may still be some gems around there that are worth transferring to your new website.
In fact, a poor-planned redesign can end up affecting how your new website appears in organic searches since you’re effectively changing the platform that search engines already know. The redesign process can make your new website almost entirely unreadable for search engines.
But to know which elements are doing their job right now, and therefore should be transferred to the new site, you have to thoroughly review your current platform.
Here are some of the things to focus on:
- Look at your current information architecture, meaning the overall structure of your website. It’s important to have a complete overview of what you’re working with;
- Check your Google Analytics or other tools to see which pages are performing the best, and which are the ones lagging;
- Check for any SEO issues that you need to address, such as missing title tags, descriptions, and others. Keep all these mistakes close by to make sure you don’t repeat them with your new website;
- Analyse the content on your pages. Is it still representative of your business and, therefore, can it be transferred to the new platform?
Analysing your current website can also help you understand if the new one will be serving its purpose. You can take all the data gathered from the site and compare it to your new, redesigned one to see if the redesign of your site truly helps you reach your goals.
SEO Factors to Consider
Once you take note of all the pros and cons of your current website, you can start planning for the redesign process. The reason why you can’t go into this process blind is that, at its core, it will be the same website – just with new, and improved design.
As a result, if you want the new version of the site to continue to rank well in search results, and possibly even improve your placement, there are some SEO factors you need to prioritise at this time:
- Keeping the URL Structure
Ideally, you should try to preserve the URL structure as much as you can. This will allow the search engines to continue navigating your website without problems and will make the redesign a lot easier.
However, some URLs will inevitably have to change, and if you also want them to work with the old pages, then you need to have some 301 redirects in place. Skipping this step will mean the search engine won’t be able to see the previous page by accessing your new URL, which can negatively affect your ranking and organic traffic. If you’re also changing the domain name, then you’ll need 301 redirects for all your pages.
- Link Your Pages
Internal links are highly appreciated by search engines and website visitors. Think of them as shortcuts that allow both to navigate from one relevant page to the next, as opposed to looking at your site structure to find what they’re looking for.
Pages that are not linked to another are known as ‘island pages’. While these don’t necessarily hurt you, having multiple island pages on your website can make the new platform harder to navigate, which can affect organic page visibility.
Another thing to consider here is link equity, which is the idea of transferring authority from one page to the next. This essentially means you cannot just link pages for the sake of it. All links have to have a meaning and lead the reader to an additional, relevant page for them.
This idea also applies to external links as well. Everyone wants to be linked to reputable, authoritative websites, and while that does improve SEO quite a bit, it only does so when the linking is organic, and not forced.
- Focus on User Experience
Search engines really value a website’s user experience. This means that your new site doesn’t just have to look good (which is a thing covered by UI, or User Interface), but also to be easy to use.
But what does this mean?
Well, in a nutshell, it means addressing the needs and expectations of the user, which are commonly:
- Mobile-friendly websites;
- Intuitive design;
- Appealing interface;
- Responsive design (meaning the website will work without issues on screens of different sizes).
These days, websites simply can’t get away with not having these qualities. If yours does not, your organic traffic and SEO efforts will take a big hit.
- Create a New Sitemap
Whenever you make any change in your website structure and URLs, you have to notify the search engines of this fact. But don’t write a polite email to Google just yet – in this case, the notification will come in the form of a new sitemap, which is exactly what it sounds like.
An XML sitemap allows search engines to read your website. They will know what’s on it, and where to find it. There are plenty of XML sitemap generators online, but after you’ve made yours you need to submit it to Google Search Console to let it crawl your new site and index it.
- Launch and Wait
A live site doesn’t mean the job’s done, at least not yet. No matter how well your new website’s design is, it’s still important to monitor it closely to see if it will be performing the way you want it to.
And be prepared to make a few mistakes here and there. SEO is an extremely complex process, and a site redesign, even if done well, can disrupt the process. Luckily, most of these mistakes won’t end up costing you too much if you stay on top of them and make quick modifications as needed.
When you don’t want to create a completely new site, a website redesign is the best (and often cheaper) alternative. But if you are not creating it from scratch, it doesn’t mean the process will be a lot easier.
Redesigning a website has to be done with a lot of care to avoid losing the rankings and performance the previous site had managed to achieve. This is why you should consult with a team of SEO experts to make sure your that your redesign doesn’t affect your search engine rankings or organic traffic.
We are just the team to do that. Get in touch with Australian Internet Advertising Now for the best SEO solutions exclusively crafted for your website.