How to Stop a Website Redesign from Killing Your SEO

Reading Time: 3 minutes

seo-web-redesign

Things have been going well for you so far. The economy’s picking up, your marketing efforts are starting to bear fruit (in part, of course, to the excellent digital marketing efforts you have been doing) and you’re completing the final piece of the puzzle – your website redesign.

You have been pushing for it for months, until finally, your powers of persuasion prevailed and you get the go-ahead from management.

A website redesign is not an easy task, especially for a larger company. But you and your team dove into it enthusiastically.

After months of planning, designing, content creation, developing and revising, you’re finally ready to launch your new website.

You get the approval from management at the final review meeting and you push the proverbial launch button. You breathe a sigh of relief, get a few pats on the back and head home for your first good night’s sleep in months.

Expectations for the new website redesign are high, but you’re fairly confident everything will go well after the monumental effort you put in.

But months later, you’re losing traffic, online leads are drying up, and you’re losing ground on almost every metric you’re tracking.

You’re left wondering… so what happened?

Why a Website Redesign Could be Harmful

This scenario is played out more commonly than you think. We receive a significant number of enquiries requesting us to come in to rescue their websites after a redesign. In fact, we’ve found that a website redesign is a major trigger event for calling in a digital marketing company.

A major source of traffic for most websites is organic search.

A website redesign affects key SEO factors such as site navigation, site architecture, on-page optimisation, and content optimisation. If you don’t keep those factors in mind as you go about your redesign, then there is a high chance that your SEO is going to tank.

Consider SEO at the very Beginning

Most marketing managers seem to labour under the delusion that you can leave SEO until after the redesign of the website is completed. Too often, the CloudRock SEO team is called in only after the website has been relaunched – sometimes even months after.

That’s far from ideal.

The problem with most traditional web designers is that they take their SEO rankings for granted until they lose them.

They think that since the website is doing so well now, there’s no reason why a redesign might suddenly get them off the first page of Google.

That’s simply not true.

It might take years for you to build up your SEO rankings but you could lose those overnight.

There might also be critical web design issues that could have quickly (and cheaply) been solved if you had called in an SEO expert at the start.

For example, your web designer might have used images for the navigation bar. As we all know, Google can’t read images and this would hinder (or stop) the efficient flow of link equity to your inner pages to GoogleBot.

If you wait until the end of the redesign, then it could cost you more to fix fundamental SEO issues that were avoidable.

Create a Redirection Plan

While the majority of your links may be to your homepage, you will still get links to your inner pages. These links provide you with link equity that help signal to Google that your website is authoritative.

What usually happens during a website redesign is you’ll end up creating new URLs or URL structures that replace the old ones.

If links are pointed to the old URLs, what happens when you change them?

You lose your link equity!

This is disastrous for SEO and we’d consider among the top reasons a redesigned website loses its rankings.

Not Talking to Google

Google’s Search Console (formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools) is the search giant’s primary method of communication to webmasters.

There’s a ton of information you can get there from the links pointing to you, to your crawl errors and notifications on Google penalties.

When it comes to a website redesign, the Google Search Console provides a treasure trove of information that helps ensure that your redesign is Google-friendly.

For example, you can use the Fetch as Google feature to see if there are any issues when Google crawls your new website.

Being able to take advantage of the information GSC provides you is especially critical if you’re moving to a different domain.

Be Prepared for a Drop in Traffic & Rankings

However careful you might be, there’s a very good chance that there will still be a drop in rankings when you launch a new website.

This is a very common occurrence and you shouldn’t worry too much.

That even happens to us every time we redesign our website (three times and counting). If you have done everything properly, then your rankings should return within a few weeks.

Let us know in the comments below if you have any other questions with regards to a website redesign.