How To Keep Your SEO Rankings When Redesigning Your Website

Redesigning your website can be like walking into a battlefield in terms of search engine optimization. Worst case scenario, you could lose all your search engine rankings and will have to start from scratch. Luckily, this doesn’t have to be the case – as long as you do the transition the right way.

Avoid Working on a Live Website

This is the most important thing to remember when making changes or redesigning your website. Do not do any kind of redesign to your website while it is live. Either disable the website while you’re making improvements (not recommended, because people will get frustrated when they visit your website) or set up the new website on a separate domain and swap it with the original when it is ready (recommended method). When you make changes to a website, it’s often a lengthy process, and mistakes are bound to be made, so it’s easier to not have to deal with the problems of working on a live website.

Save The Original Website Content

To keep similarity between the old and new websites, create a list of all the pages from the old website. If the URL is going to change for pages in the new website, you need to notify search engines about these changes by using 301 redirects. Failure to do this will damage your rankings and trust with customers, and you will lose organic traffic to your website. You should also save your sitemap of the original website to a text file, for reference later.

Match The Links/Structures of the Old and New Websites

Customers like familiarity, so it’s not a good idea to completely change the structure of your website when you redesign it. Before you get started on a new design, user a content crawler to map out your existing website, how things are laid out, so that you can match the new website’s content with it. Once you’re finished with the redesigned website, crawl the new site to compare its structure to the original site.

Use a Temporary Domain for the New Website

This is the best way how you can avoid disruption in the transition from the old website to the new website. Set up the new website design on a temporary URL, copying your old website to the temporary URL. Then make the changes you want and make sure that you noindex this temporary URL, because you don’t want it to appear in search engine results until you’re ready to make the new website live. Once you’re finished with the new website, you can just transfer the website and take the new website live.

Use 301 Redirections

Always use 301 redirects for every single page in your old website. The 301 redirect tells search engines that the URL of a page has changed, this ensures that website visitors can find what they’re looking for. The 301 redirect also ensures that all links, bookmarks and social media links to the website will still be working when the new website goes live. When you set up the 301 redirects, always make sure each page’s 301 redirect points to the same content on the new website. If that’s not possible for every single page, at least make sure that the content pointed to is similar. Do not just make a general redirect that redirects all the old pages to the new website’s home page.

Use 404 Pages

The 404 page not found message is an important part of any website redesign, because pages just get lost in the shuffle or links don’t work. A good 404 page will help the users and search engines find their way back to the information they’re looking for. You can make the 404 page both user-friendly and search engine friendly by adding a search engine box on the page, along with keeping the menu of the website on the 404 page.

Track your Backlinks

This is something that every website owner dreads, losing all those wonderful backlinks that they’ve earned. You can collect usage stats of your backlinks, and the ideal way to move those backlinks to your new website is to contact the owners of the most valued or popular backlinks and ask them to change the links so that they point to the new pages. If that’s not possible, then make sure the pages with your backlinks have 301 redirects. Read more on the elements of a quality backlink.

Things to Fix Before Going Live

Once you’ve completed the redesign of your website, there are still more details to finish before you can go live. Optimize the new images for SEO, using meta descriptions and compress the images for faster loading. Check the robots.txt to ensure that it’s configured correctly. If it’s not correctly configured, crawlers can’t read your website’s content. Then check the new website for any broken links.

Things to Check After the Website Goes Live

Once the redesigned website is live, you should compare your bounce rates before and after the redesign. An increase in the bounce rate means that users are unhappy about something with the redesign, so you may need to make a couple of changes. Continue to monitor your rankings in search results, to look for any improvement or decline. Google suggests a transition period of at least 3 to 6 months, during which time you should also keep your old domain name, with 301 redirects.

Tip – Continue to Work on SEO

SEO is a continues process and the minute you stop working on it, your competitors will catch up. It is very important to be able to keep your rankings and to rank higher on search engines to keep your backlinks and building backlinks to your website on a regular basis. Read more SEO Tips for Beginners and check out our Link Building Services to increase your search engine rankings.

It’s always a difficult transition to make. However, following these suggestions can make the process much easier, and can minimize interruptions of your business.

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  • REPAYMENT PLAN

    How does the repayment plan work?

    Upon acceptance of the quotation, we require a 50% deposit payment before the start of the project. The balance or outstanding amount has to be paid after we have completed the project.

    With the repayment plan, you are able to repay us the balance or outstanding amount over 3 months. However, failure to make payments will result in immediate suspension of your account.

  • WEBSITE HOSTING

    What is Web Hosting?

    When you design a website and want other people to see it, you will need to publish (or upload) it with a web hosting service.

    Web hosting services work by storing your website files in high-powered computers (web servers) connected to a very fast network. When someone types in your web address (such as www.advertisingsolutions.co.za), the Internet connects to the web server holding your website files and then transfers your website information back to their computer. From there they can surf and view the pages of your website.

  • DOMAIN NAME

    What is a Domain Name?

    A domain name (www.yourcompanyname.co.za) is essentially your company’s Internet address; the same way your company’s street address is used to find your offices, a domain name is used to find your website. Consider this: Pick a domain name that’s memorable and relevant!

  • NUMBER OF STOCK PHOTOS

    Stock photos are professionally taken photographs that we can buy online to use commercially, without having to stress over copy-right issues. It can be used to enhance your website or in marketing material.

    Stock photos can save you quite a bit of time and money, as you do not have to hire a photographer just to have some quality images for your website. While stock images cover a broad range of applications, it can be difficult to acquire pictures for a certain niche, or a specific product.

     

  • NUMBER OF SLIDES

    What is a slider?

    A banner slider is comprised of images and text on multiple slides, allowing you to rotate content on a single space on your website. It’s most commonly the first thing you see (apart from the logo and menu) on a website’s home page. The purpose of the slider is to catch the attention of the viewer while being visually appealing and easy to read. It can be used to display selected information, such as promotions or highlighting specific products or services, and can also be used to easily navigate your site.

    How many should I use?

    This is dependable on the amount of content you have on your website. Small websites that do not have much information 1-2 sliders will be enough. Websites with more pages and content to market will require more sliders to make the navigation of the site easily digestible for the viewer, while promoting certain products or content. We do not recommend more than 5 slides, as we find that most viewers spend a few minutes on your home page before moving on to another page and won’t view more than 5 slides.

  • WEBSITE TYPE

    Standard Website Design

    This design is for the general purpose of getting your company’s information out on the internet and reaching potential customers. This does not include an online store/eCommerce, directories or custom development. As we use WordPress, you will also have the option of logging in to your website and doing some small changes yourself if you choose.

    Online Store/eCommerce

    This design option is for selling your products online, as well as having your information online and reaching potential customers. This includes payment gateway integration such as Payfast and EFT and also includes up to 50 individual products. If you have more products you can simply load them in yourself by logging into the backend of your website, where you can also manage your inventory and take stock. If you have a large selection and would prefer us to do it, we can assist you with loading all your products for an additional fee.

  • NUMBER OF PAGES

    Most websites are comprised of 4 pages, eg: Home, About, Services/Products and Contact.

    Your Home page welcomes the viewer, with a general summary of your company and what you have to offer. It also helps the viewer easily navigate your site. Your About page may list company history, your mission and vision, team members, company values or any information regarding your company.

    Your Products or Services page is where you expand on the products or services you have. Your Contact page lists all your contact details, such as your physical address, contact number and email address. It is also good to have an enquiry form so potential clients can easily get in contact with you.

    These are just the most common pages used, the amount of pages will depend on the amount of information you have.

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