We gathered 5 ways that can help you avoid huge drops in rankings and make the most out of your redesign. But before we share them with you, let’s clarify what does the design even has to do with SEO rankings?
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What is SEO ranking?
According to Moz – “Ranking refers to the process search engines use to determine where a particular piece of content should appear on a Search Engine Result Page (SERP).” SEO ranking is influenced greatly by many different factors, some of which include keyword optimization, URLs, page content titles, and of course the UX.
Most of the time, the redesign entails significant modifications to the content, structure, and code of the page. Such changes tend to inevitably drop your rankings in search engines. Therefore, if you are not careful, you could irreversibly lose all your hard-earned SEO ranking after a redesign. To avoid the problem, it’s essential to make use of Local SEO techniques to retain your ranking.
Today we are going to introduce you to some of the proven ways to retain SEO rankings after a redesign. Let’s get right into it!
5 ways to retain SEO ranking after a website redesign:
Set up redirects
Whether you’ve had a redesign or it’s time to freshen up the look of your website, it’s essential not to lose your SEO rankings. There are many factors that contribute to ranking, and even small things like redirects can be crucial.
For one, setting up redirects will help you to maintain a consistent navigation experience. A redirect forwards visitors or search engines from an old URL to a new one.
Make sure to consider 301 and 302 redirects.
A 301 redirect is permanent and meant for website visitors and search engines. Permanent redirects tend to be better for SEO as it also transfers the inbound links.
On the other hand, a 302 redirect is temporary, and though it can affect SEO negatively, you can use it while updating a web page to offer users a seamless experience.
Luckily, there are plenty of redirect checker tools that you can use. For instance, Hubspot CRM allows you to customize the URL and create redirects hosted on the platform or other URL. For WordPress users, there are tools such as Simple 301 Redirects that also support wildcards. Your visitors can reach your site, even when asking for a subdomain.
WordPress users who are not privy to the technical know-how can also hire a dedicated WordPress developer for the task.
Implement effective on-page SEO practices
The SEO value of your redesign is severely diminished if there are no effective on-page SEO practices employed. After updating the visual part of the website, make sure to not forget to implement the on-page SEO best practices.
All of the elements on your pages should be performing optimally. There are specific components on each page that can be updated to keep up with Google’s ever-changing on-page search engine ranking factors (SERFs).
As soon as you redesign your site, implement these effective on-page SEO practices:
- Optimize Your URL – Use a clear and simple URL containing keywords relating to the inner page content. Your URLs should correctly embed the elements found within and use the right separators. Keep the length down to 115 characters or less.
- Optimize Meta Description – Create a “meta title” and the “description” and make sure that the meta title is concise and includes the keyword. Aim for a title between 50 and 60 characters. Don’t forget to include the keyword as close to the description beginning as possible and add your website name towards the end.
Though meta titles let search engines match your content to search queries, in the end, the users decide whether the page is relevant to their query based on the title. Therefore, write your meta titles for humans. The meta description should encourage users to click through. Add keywords and, if possible, get your main point across in the initial 160 characters. Consider adding a short CTA or offer in your meta description to increase the click-through rate.
- H1 Tags – H1 tags are crucial when it comes to on-page SEO. They are visible to visitors and act as a signal for search engine crawlers to offer info on what the page content is all about.
- Keywords – Use optimized keywords to make it easier for users to discover your site through search engines.
Other than optimizing the title and meta tags, understanding the context of how your content will be displayed is also crucial. You should be prioritizing each piece of content on the page accordingly.
Handle missing pages
Probably one of the more challenging aspects of a website redesign is handling the missing pages. This is especially true with how important SEO now is to any business. A lost or broken page can cost your site a serious ranking drop. And when it’s a branded domain name, the impact can be even more damaging.
To avoid this, make sure that all the content pages that are doing well on your old site have an equal number of pages in the redesign. It is also crucial to conduct a qualitative review of all the new text, images, and UI changes.
While at that, watch out for broken redirects and missing content. A copy of your sitemap will come in handy- an HTML sitemap for visitors and search engines and an XML sitemap for search engines.
Conduct technical site audits and tests
Site audits are an essential part of maintaining a healthy website, especially after a redesign. It’s recommended to audit your site at least monthly, but doing it more frequently can be beneficial for critical pages.
There are plenty of tools that can help you automate the auditing process. For example, leverage a technical site audit tool like Ahrefs, Moz, and JetOctopus to get insight on technical issues.
It is also essential to run your site through a mobile-friendly testing tool. Apart from that, check your page speed using a page speed tool. And don’t neglect schema markup. They help search engines better understand your site’s content, boost brand presence, and increase CTR.
Use Google Business Profile
A large part of the SEO ranking factor is authority. The higher the website’s authority, the better it ranks in Google searches. A redesign can result in a loss of SEO ranking after the relaunch.
By using Google Business Profile, website owners can retain their SEO ranking for servicing customers locally. Google Business Profile can boost local traffic and search rankings. As per stats, local businesses get 94% of calls from Google My Business between Monday and Friday.
Make sure that your Google business page reflects your redesign, including brand, services, and business info. Additionally, update your images and logos to the listing and consider incorporating them with Google Maps to boost search traffic volume.
What else you can do?
It’s definitely a challenge to keep the previous SEO ranking after a site redesign. But even though it requires a great amount of work behind the scenes, the addition of new content, and a big SEO push to get noticed by Google, it’s totally worth it. After some time you’ll be able to not only enjoy your new updated design but also see the increase in traffic.
To ensure great UX and customer satisfaction, make sure to conduct a usability test before and after your redesign. It will help you make all the changes with the user in mind and provide a flawless experience.