How to redesign your website without losing Google rankings?

By firstplaceseo.co.uk
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Why invest in a new website if your already on the first page of Google?

Web design trends change and your website looks as old and basic compared with your competitors. This could put customers off, resulting in the revenue from your site steadily declining and you ranking along with it. By the time you realise this your playing catch up. So doing a well managed redesign your keeping yourself in first place ahead of your competition. .

Leaving behind black hat SEO practices

If your website has been around for a while, it might have reached the top of Google using strategies that were acceptable back then but are now frowned upon.

It’s still common to find sites filled with spammy links, plagiarised content, and excessive keyword stuffing. These tactics once placed websites to the top of the rankings and have allowed some to remain there, often unnoticed due to their particular niche.

However, continuing with these practices poses a significant risk. If Google catches on, the penalties can be severe, especially for smaller businesses. The repercussions of such penalties can a loss of revenue and the cost of building a new website. I know of a particular London SEO agency that was at the top of Google maps and the organic search only to be recently receive a Google penalty and get wiped off the face of the internet.

You can always rank for more keywords and search terms!

Are you achieving high rankings for all your target keywords, or is there a chance to expand your reach and improve your rankings across a broader set of terms? Also, are your current rankings converting into a sufficient number of leads or sales?

SEO is a never ending journey. If you don’t keep building on your rankings and creating new impressions, or if you neglect to maintain the ones you’ve achieved, you’ll begin to lose ground to competitors who are hungry for the top spot. 

Keep or update website

Will redesigning my website affect my Google rankings?

Redesigning a website will impact your Google rankings and once you submit your urls for re-indexing in Google search console you will see the impact almost immediately. 

Google is now a mobile first search engine, so it is a MUST to making your site mobile-friendly and improving the user experience. Positive changes in this regard will improve user engagement metrics like time on site and lower bounce rates, which positively influence rankings.

Increasing the speed of your website can now directly impact your rankings with Google, as faster loading times improve your visitors experience and that is factored into the algorithm.

Redesigning your site offers an opportunity to fix technical issues such as crawl errors, broken links, and duplicate content. Addressing these can improve your site’s crawlability and indexing, which are all important for SEO. Screaming frog SEO spider tool is an excellent tool for exploring technical SEO aspects of your site.

Updating and optimising content with relevant keywords during a redesign can improve your rankings. Ensure that the content maintains its quality and relevance to your target audience. Google grades your pages and posts so if you continuously produce excellent content you will be naturally rewarded with higher rankings for your content.

If the redesign changes your website’s URL structure, you must implement 301 redirects to maintain backlink equity and avoid losing ranking power. Also, keep track of and manage backlinks to ensure they point to the correct URLs. A plugin such a Rank Math can manage this for you automatically. They have a free option and it offers more features than its main competitor Yoast. 

After your redesign, it’s important to monitor your website’s performance closely. Use tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console to track changes in traffic and rankings, and adjust your strategy accordingly. We touch upon how to monitor your performance after the redesign a bit more later in the article.  

How to redesign your website without losing google rankings

Why Should You Consider a Website Redesign Despite Good Google Rankings?

Having a website that ranks well on Google is a massive benefit for your business, but maintaining its effectiveness and relevance requires regular updates and redesigns. This might be something you are putting off but here are the reasons why people go ahead with a redesign even when their website is ranking high.

Web design trends and user expectations are always changing with the times. A redesign can improve the user experience by making the site more intuitive, faster, and easier to navigate. Better UX often leads to increased engagement, lower bounce rates, and higher conversion rates.

With the increasing use of mobile devices to access the internet, your site must perform flawlessly on smartphones and tablets. A redesign can ensure your website is fully responsive and provides a good user experience on all devices.

Your website reflects your brand. If your brand’s image, values, or messaging have changed, your website should reflect these changes. Keeping your online presence aligned with your brand ensures consistency and helps reinforce your brand identity with visitors.

New technologies can improve website functionality, speed, and security. Implementing these can enhance backend efficiencies and front-end experiences, keeping your site modern and competitive.

Even if your site attracts a lot of traffic, it’s essential to ensure that traffic converts into leads, sales, or other desired outcomes. A redesign can help optimise conversion rates by tweaking the layout, navigation, and calls to action/

Search engine algorithms are continually updated. A redesign allows you to refine your site’s structure, content, and on-page SEO strategies to maintain or improve your rankings.

Your current search engine rankings should not put you off from updating your website to meet current standards and user expectations. A well-timed redesign can breathe new life into your site, helping to ensure it remains a valuable asset to your business.

    Risks with a website redesign

    What Are Common SEO Risks When Redesigning a Website?

    Key SEO Risks to Consider During a Website Redesign

    Here are some common SEO challenges to watch out for during a redesign:

    1. URL Structure Changes: Modifying your website’s URL structure without proper redirects can lead to broken links and lost rankings. Ensure that any old URLs are correctly redirected to their new counterparts using 301 redirects to maintain link equity and user access. Here is an example of someone who lost rankings from changing urls, the comments make for an interesting read. 
    2. Content Alterations: Big changes in your content, such as reduced keyword density, changes in topic focus, or removal of pages, can impact your rankings. Keep a copy of your old content to compare it to the new pages if required, preserving keyword optimisation and maintaining the quality and quantity of the information.
    3. Navigation and Internal Linking Changes: Altering your site’s navigation can disrupt the internal link structure, which can weaken your SEO by diluting link equity and making it harder for search engines to crawl your site. Carefully plan any changes to ensure you maintain a logical and SEO-friendly internal linking strategy.
    4. Loss of Metadata: During a redesign, metadata such as page titles and meta descriptions can sometimes get lost or overlooked. This metadata is crucial for SEO, so it’s important to ensure that all new and existing pages have optimised titles and descriptions.
    5. Technical Issues: New templates or frameworks can introduce technical problems like slow load times, mobile incompatibility, or excessive code. Such issues can negatively affect user experience and SEO. Regular testing during and after the redesign process is vital to identify and fix these issues quickly.
    6. Overlooking Redirects for Removed Content: If you decide to remove pages that no longer align with your business goals, ensure you set up redirects to relevant pages to preserve user experience and minimise any loss of traffic or ranking.
    7. Forgetting to Update the Robots.txt File or Noindex Tags: Ensure that your robots.txt file is updated to reflect any new directory structures or to remove old disallow directives. Additionally, be careful with noindex tags to avoid accidentally blocking pages from being indexed.
    8. Not Monitoring Changes Post-Launch: After a redesign, it’s crucial to monitor your website’s performance actively. Look for changes in traffic and rankings and check for crawl errors in Google Search Console. This will help you quickly identify and rectify any issues that might impact your SEO.

    By being aware of these risks and planning your redesign carefully, you can help ensure that your website not only looks better and performs better but also maintains or even improves its search engine rankings.

      How to plan for a website redesign

      How to plan a website redesign with affecting SEO? 

      Steps to Plan a Website Redesign Without Harming SEO

      Redesigning your website can refresh your brand’s online presence, but it’s crucial to approach the process with a plan that safeguards your search engine optimisation (SEO). Here’s a detailed guide based on expert insights:

      Step 1: Back-Up Your Website: Before starting any redesign, make a complete backup of your existing website. This includes theme files, plugins, and database. This precaution ensures you can revert to the original state if the redesign encounters problems.

      Step 2: Activate Maintenance Mode: Use a maintenance mode page during the redesign to prevent visitors from encountering broken links or pages. This helps maintain user experience and protects your SEO by preventing the indexing of incomplete pages.

      Step 3: Assess Current SEO Performance: Gather data from tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Export data related to top-performing pages and keyword rankings to measure performance post-launch accurately.

      Step 4: Maintain Content and Structure: Keep changes to your site’s content and URL structure to a minimum to preserve your SEO standing. If URLs must change, ensure you set up 301 redirects from the old URLs to the new ones to maintain link equity.

      Step 5: Optimise On-Page Elements: Even small changes in your site design can impact on-page SEO elements like title tags and meta descriptions. Ensure these are carried over accurately and optimised for the new design.

      Step 6: Test on a Staging Site: Before going live, thoroughly test the new design on a staging site. This allows you to resolve any issues without affecting your live site’s SEO. Check for broken links, load times, and functionality across all devices and browsers.

      Step 7: Launch and Monitor: After launching the redesigned site, monitor its performance closely. Check for any shifts in user behaviour or SEO rankings. Quickly address any errors or unexpected drops in traffic.

      Step 8: Post-Launch SEO Audit: Conduct a comprehensive audit after the redesign is live to ensure all SEO aspects are functioning as expected. This should include checking redirects, verifying on-page SEO, and ensuring that the site remains fully responsive and fast-loading.

      By carefully planning and monitoring each step of the redesign process, you can update your website without sacrificing your hard-earned SEO rankings.

      Technical SEO website redesign

      Which technical SEO considerations are needed during a redesign?

      When undergoing a website redesign, you need to include SEO from the outset to avoid common mistakes that can drastically affect your site’s performance. Here’s a detailed breakdown of technical SEO considerations you should address:

      1. 301 Redirects: Ensure all outdated URLs are redirected to the relevant new pages. This helps maintain link equity and prevents losing traffic due to page errors.
      2. Maintaining URL Structures: Where possible, keep URL structures unchanged to avoid losing page authority and confusing returning users.
      3. Preserving Content: Content that performs well should be retained or only minimally changed to avoid drops in rankings.
      4. On-Page Optimization: Export key on-page elements like page titles, meta descriptions, and headers from the old site. Where the site is well-optimized, keep these elements consistent.
      5. Internal Link Structure: Maintain a robust internal linking structure to ensure that Google can efficiently index new pages, and high-value pages continue to support each other’s authority.
      6. Crawlability and Indexation: Ensure that new design elements or technologies don’t hinder the website’s ability to be crawled and indexed by search engines.
      7. SEO-Friendly Technology: Be wary of using technologies that are not friendly to search engines, such as certain types of JavaScript. If you’re introducing new features or moving to a new content management system (CMS), ensure they are compatible with SEO best practices.
      8. Technical Health: Regularly audit your site for technical issues that could impact SEO, such as broken links, duplicate content, and page speed issues.
      9. Backlink Updates: Where URL structures change, update your most valuable backlinks to point directly to the new URLs to preserve the link juice.
      10. Monitoring Changes: After going live, closely monitor the site for SEO performance using tools like Google Search Console. Check for indexing issues, crawl errors, and changes in page performance.
      11. SEO Goals and KPIs: Establish clear SEO goals and track KPIs to understand what changes impact SEO performance, allowing for quick adjustments.

      By addressing these areas, you can ensure that your redesigned website not only retains but also has the potential to improve its SEO performance. This proactive approach prevents common redesign mistakes that can lead to significant traffic and ranking losses.

      Should I Keep, Update, or Remove Old Content in a New Website Design?

      When redesigning your website, deciding whether to keep, update, or remove old content is crucial for maintaining and enhancing your site’s SEO performance. Here are some strategies and considerations for handling old content:

      Keep or Update Old Content

      1. Look at Content Relevance and Accuracy:
        • Before deciding to delete any old content, assess whether the information is still relevant and accurate. Outdated content that no longer reflects your current brand or industry trends might need an update or complete rewrite.
      2. Check Content Performance:
        • Use tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console to determine if the content still attracts traffic and engagements. If a page is performing well, consider keeping it as is or updating it to ensure it remains relevant and continues to perform well.
      3. Update for SEO:
        • Refresh old content with new keywords, updated information, and enhanced media (such as new images, videos, or infographics). Ensure internal and external links are current and operational, and optimize images with relevant alt tags to boost SEO.
      4. Use Topic Clusters:
        • Implement a topic cluster strategy by updating old content and linking it to newer, related articles. This approach can help reinforce the relevancy of content and improve overall site structure, aiding in SEO efforts.

      Remove Old Content

      1. When to Remove:
        • If the content is significantly outdated, no longer aligns with your brand, brings unqualified traffic, or is rarely visited, consider removing it. Ensure the removal aligns with a strategic understanding of its impact on your site’s traffic and SEO.
      2. Options for Removal:
        • 404 Not Found: You may choose to simply delete the content, leading to a 404 page. While not inherently harmful to SEO, it’s beneficial to customize 404 pages to redirect users to related content or your homepage.
        • 301 Redirect: If the old content has a newer version or similar topic on your site, use a 301 redirect to pass the SEO value from the old page to the relevant new page.
        • 410 Gone: Use this response to inform search engines that the content is permanently removed and not just temporarily relocated or awaiting a replacement. This is particularly useful if the content could damage your brand or has been compromised (e.g., by a site hack).

      General Tips

      • Always have a clear rationale for any content you decide to remove or significantly alter.
      • Monitor the impact of content removal or changes on your SEO and adjust your strategy accordingly.
      • Keep a backup before making significant changes to handle any unforeseen SEO issues or negative impacts on site performance.

      By carefully assessing each piece of content against these criteria, you can make informed decisions that enhance your site’s relevance and performance in search engine results.

      SEO best practice for relaunching website

      What Are the SEO Best Practices for Launching a Redesigned Website?

      Launching a redesigned website is a tense time for business owners. Here are ten best practices for ensuring your redesigned site retains its search engine visibility and rankings:

      1. Benchmark Current Performance

      Before launching, record the current site’s performance as a benchmark. This helps you compare pre-launch and post-launch performance to gauge the impact of the redesign.

      2. Plan the Site Structure Carefully

      Ensure the new site structure supports existing content and allows for future expansion. Maintain clean and descriptive URLs whenever possible. Changes to the URL structure should be handled with 301 redirects to preserve SEO value.

      3. Preserve Successful Content

      Identify landing pages that currently drive traffic and ensure they are effectively incorporated into the new site. This includes maintaining or thoughtfully updating the URL structure and content.

      4. Implement 301 Redirects

      For pages with changed URLs, set up 301 redirects from the old URLs to the new ones. This is crucial for preventing 404 errors and for transferring SEO equity to the new pages.

      5. Handle Removed Content

      If removing outdated or irrelevant content, decide whether to redirect users to a similar page or to simply let the page return a 404 or 410 status, indicating it has been permanently removed.

      6. Update On-Page SEO Elements

      Use the redesign as an opportunity to update and optimize on-page SEO elements like meta tags, headers, and alt texts. Ensure every key page has unique and descriptive titles and meta descriptions.

      7. Check and Enhance Internal Links

      Review the internal linking structure to ensure key pages are adequately linked throughout the site. This improves crawlability and user navigation, bolstering SEO.

      8. Optimise the New Content

      Refresh and optimize the content being migrated to the new design. Consider the integration of relevant keywords, multimedia enhancements, and updating information to increase relevancy and engagement.

      9. Monitor and Adjust Post-Launch

      After launching, closely monitor the website’s performance against the pre-launch benchmarks. Use tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console to track traffic, engagement, and any crawl errors.

      10. Continuous Improvement

      SEO is an ongoing process. Keep iterating on content and SEO strategies based on analytical insights and evolving best practices. This ensures the site remains relevant and performs well in search results.

      By following these steps, you can significantly mitigate the risks associated with launching a redesigned website and ensure a smooth transition in terms of SEO and user experience.

      Monitoring website performance after redesign

      How to Monitor SEO Performance After a Website Redesign?

      A website redesign can revolutionize your online presence and spur business growth. To gauge the success and impact of your redesign, you’ll have to monitor the right key performance indicators (KPIs). These metrics will inform you on user behaviour, engagement, and conversion rates, providing the insights needed for informed decision-making and continual optimisation.

      The Importance of KPIs in Measuring Website Redesign Success

      Clearly defining your goals for a website redesign is crucial. Aligning these goals with the right key performance indicators (KPIs) ensures you track metrics that are most relevant to your business’s needs.

      Make sure your KPI’s reflect what you are trying to achieve, whether that is lead generation from your site, increased conversions if your an ecommerce store or simply more of a branded website, you need to set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound) goals. 

      Website Traffic and User Engagement Metrics

      Analysing your internet traffic and where it is coming from post relaunch as well as changes to the post-redesign in order to measure your success is necessary so you know what to tweak going forwards for optimal results..

      Holy grail tools such as Google Analytics are your friend as they allow you to monitor bounce rates, time the user spends on the page, and pages per session. All of these statistic’s enable you to understand how your engaging with your visitors and what the appetite of your content is giving you a more in-depth look into the success of your relaunch and how your content is percieved. . 

      Conversion Rates and Goal Completions

      Converting visitors into customers is what a commercial website is all about. So if you have or are going for a redesign then converting visitors should be at the forefront of your plan. You need to track your website goals such as form submissions, checkout purchases, and how many visitors your getting. Compare your old stats with your news ones and you should get an accurate picture of where things are at. (However if you are running a seasonal business such as a flower supplier, take that into consideration.).If your not getting the clicks you envisaged then look at your website structure (if the structure has changed then that may be the issue).

      Mobile Responsiveness and User Experience Metrics

      Assess the number of visitors on your website using a mobile device. You should have redesigned to be mobile first but check on how your site displays on different screen sizes from Androids to IPhones to tablets and IPads. Gather feedback from your employees and friends on their user experience and address any issues straight away. You can use free tools like page speed insights as well. 

      SEO Performance and Organic Search Traffic

      Your redesign will likely affect organic search visibility in one way shape or form. Monitor any changes in organic traffic and keyword rankings to see if your SEO strategy’s working or not. .On a monthly basis do a SEO audit to find out any issues that could impact your rankings. 

      Monitoring User Behaviour with Heatmap Analysis

      Heatmap tools offer insights into user interactions on your redesigned site, visualising engagement and navigation patterns to improve usability and conversions. They pinpoint high-traffic areas and potential usability issues, enabling targeted enhancements for better user engagement.

      A/B Testing & Conversion Rate Optimisation

      A/B testing allows you to pit different design elements against each other to see which ones perform best. By analysing these results, you can fine-tune your website for optimal performance, enhancing your conversion rates.

      Implement A/B testing on key components such as calls-to-action, forms, and headlines to continually refine your site’s design and drive more conversions.

      Social Media Engagement and Referral Traffic

      Social media has blown up in the last 20 years and plays a massive role in driving website traffic. After redesigning your site, it’s important to monitor how engagement and reach on social platforms change to gauge the impact on social media users.

      Keep an eye on referral traffic from social media to identify which platforms are most effective at attracting visitors. Use this data to fine-tune your content and social media strategies, aiming to boost traffic to your website. On reddit people often post their websites and redesigns with the title “roast my landing page” to get honest feedback from the online community. Sometimes it can be constructive and sometimes it can be harsh, if you have thick skin then give it a go!

      Get Feedback from Visitors

      We strongly recommend gathering feedback via surveys and reviews after your website redesign is complete. Evaluating feedback scores helps identify areas for improvement. Remember a visitor will see your website in a different light to you as they are not precious about it!

      By consistently monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs) following your redesign, you’ll gain valuable insights into site performance, user engagement, and conversion rates. This data is crucial for making informed decisions that drive continuous improvements, keeping your website competitive and effective.

      A successful website redesign is an ongoing process. Regularly assessing these KPIs ensures that your digital presence remains ahead, whether you’ve updated your site, switched to WordPress, or moved to Shopify. These metrics will steer your optimisation efforts and bolster your online success.

      Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for Website Redesign Checklist:

      • Total Website Visits
      • User Interaction Metrics (Bounce Rate, Session Duration)
      • Conversion Metrics
      • Achievement of Set Goals
      • Mobile Compatibility
      • Speed of Page Loading
      • Traffic from Organic Searches
      • Rates of Click-through (CTR)
      • User Activity Patterns
      • Analysis via Heatmaps
      • Outcomes of A/B Testing
      • Engagement on Social Media
      • Traffic from Referrals
      • Feedback from Customers
      • Ratings of Customer Satisfaction
      • General Performance of the Website
        Website redesign questions

        Top FAQs About Keeping Your SEO Intact During a Redesign

        When planning a website redesign, maintaining your SEO is crucial to avoid losing the search engine visibility you’ve worked hard to build. Here are some top frequently asked questions about keeping your SEO intact during a website redesign:

        1. How do I keep my website SEO during a redesign?

        Begin with a well-defined project plan that incorporates SEO right from the start. Make sure you have a detailed checklist and strategy in place to steer the redesign process while preserving your current SEO value.

        2. What should I consider about my website structure during a redesign?

        Take a close look at your site’s structure and the layout of your content. Hold onto high-performing pages and organise your content in a way that bolsters your SEO objectives. This could mean drafting a new sitemap early on in the design process.

        3. How do I migrate on page optimisation?

        Carefully review and refine each page according to your specific plans. This includes updating meta tags, headings, and alt attributes to align with the new design, while making sure to preserve or even improve the SEO elements from your old site.

        4. Is it good to use redirects for a website redesign?

        Yes definitely if you are changing the URL. Implementing 301 redirects for any URL changes is a basic and necessary step in preserving your page traffic. Redirects help to maintain link juice and visitors to older pages that have been moved or removed. Be sure to plan this step thoroughly to avoid post-launch drops in search engine rankings.

        5. What SEO checks should be made post-launch for my website?

        Make sure all your redirects are set up and working properly. Evaluate the performance of your code and use tools to check page speed and fix any issues. Also, it’s a good idea to update your XML sitemap and submit it through Google Webmaster Tools.

        By thinking about these things and talking them over with your team, you can handle your SEO well when you’re redesigning your website. Keep your SEO plans going even after the new site is live to keep reaching your online goals.

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