Website redesigns are usually fun and exciting; it’s like getting a digital face lift for your business. But if you get it wrong, you can end up losing a lot – especially when it comes to your SEO rankings.
This is a common problem which I often come across when new websites go live without being actively managed by an experienced SEO company. Often I find that web developers simply forget to migrate SEO data like title tags and meta descriptions.
Here are 6 things you need to consider to maintain your SEO results when you switch to a new website.
1. Move all the title tags and meta name descriptions to the new website
Title tags and meta name descriptions are some of the most important elements of your website’s content from an SEO perspective and they shouldn’t be neglected or left behind when you migrate to a new website. Ensure that these important page elements are all moved to the new website by comparing the old and new pages.
2. Ensure you have content on the new website
It may be very tempting to choose a new website design that is all image based and has little or no content. Unfortunately, these image-based websites are not very SEO-friendly. Search engines can easily scan text but when it comes to images there is far less information for the search engines spiders to read. Well-written and unique content provides relevance and context to search engines which an image simply can’t.
3. Maintain individual pages on the new website
Although one page websites are very popular at the moment, they don’t do much for your SEO rankings. Search engine algorithms look for relevant information that matches their queries with content. A single page website can only contain a limited amount of content, and while your primary keywords may remain in use, you most likely won’t be able to use all your sub-topic keywords optimally.
4. Use 301 redirects for URL changes
If your new website has different URL’s to the old website, use 301 redirects to ensure that there are no broken links to individual pages on other websites and that search engines and user are directed to the correct new page. Map out the old pages and look for the best page on the new website to redirect this to.
5. Move your Google Analytics code
Lastly, don’t forget to move to make sure that your Google Analytics and any other code that was on your website (such as remarketing code and conversion tracking code) is moved across to your new website. There’s no point having an awesome new website if you aren’t tracking your traffic – it’s great to be able to see improvements in stats like time on site and bounce rates so don’t forget to do this.
6. Check your robots.txt file
When your website is in the development stages, your web developer will more than likely have a robots.txt file on it which prevents search engines from indexing your site. This is so that your new website does not show up in the search results while it is still being built. However, when the website eventually goes live, many web developers forget to remove this block on the site and this means that despite finally launching, no search engines are able to crawl your site and return it in any search results. This is a massive fail and should always be a priority to check as soon as your site goes live.
There are so many factors involved in maintaining your search rankings but these 6 points are absolutely crucial when it comes to relaunching your website. What would you add to this list? Have you had any horror stories of organic rankings falling following a new website launch?
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