Every website in existence will need a proper redesign sooner or later. Some will need it to update their layout, colors and other visual elements. Others, on the other hand, may not need a redesign for aesthetic purposes but they do need a functionality upgrade.
Needless to say, every website owner needs to keep up with consumer needs, as well as their demands and they also need to keep up with the latest market trends, in order to remain relevant and oftentimes competitive in the online world. Even though websites may need a proper redesign at a certain point, the redesign itself can be a potential pitfall, especially if you’re not careful with it.
A prime example of this is search engine optimization (SEO). SEO has become more of a mandatory marketing strategy these days rather than just optional as it used to be, especially if you want your website or your business, for that matter, to be visible enough online, among other things.
Therefore, if you’re careless with your website redesign, all your SEO efforts and your good search ranking may easily go to waste. Fortunately, this scenario can easily be avoided if you make the right moves. With that in mind, here’s how to redesign your website and not lose your search rank in the process.
Before you start redesigning your website, you must first take a close look at what it looks like now. The main reason is that you need a reference point when designing a new website. The fact of the matter is that your old website is the one with good rankings. The more you reflect on the old website during the redesign, the less are the chances of losing any search ranking in the process. You can also spot what was wrong with the old website and make improvements in the new one.
If you want the new one to be just as successful as the old one, you’ll have to preserve as much of the old architecture as you possibly can. Therefore, focus on elements such as current search ranking, site architecture including meta descriptions, title tags and URLs. Also, focus on any blocked content on your old website. If there’s, in fact, such content, it needs to remain blocked on the new website as well.
Consider A New Host
If you’re deciding on switching hosting providers, now it’s the time to do so. Changing a provider doesn’t have to mean that you’re unsatisfied with their services so far. A simple reason may be that you’ll have more traffic so you’ll need more speed or uptime for your new website and your current provider cannot handle such requirements anymore.
The website redesign is an ideal moment to consider your new needs, as well as consider if your current hosting provider can meet those new needs. If not, then don’t hesitate to switch providers or to upgrade your package. As an example, website speed is a crucial factor for search rankings.
If you want good speed for your new website, your providers should be from the same location as your website. Therefore if your website is from Australia, for instance, you should opt for web hosting in Australia. After all, you want to preserve search rankings after the redesign so you have to consider website functionality as well.
Keep The Well-ranking Content
Once one of your website pages ranks well on search engines, even the slightest of alterations may hurt those rankings. That being said, if you have such pages, try to keep the content in its original form as much as possible. Of course, you can give a page a new look but keep the content as it was. In layman’s terms, don’t try to fix what isn’t broken, it’s simple as that.
If you do, in fact, have to make alterations, try to make them small and close to insignificant. As an example, make sure you preserve the content elements of your pages, such as H1 to H6 schemes aside from regular elements, such as URLs, meta descriptions and title tags. The main reason is that these elements are the most commonly crawled elements by search engines.
Maintain The Old Website Architecture
When considering a website redesign, you have to maintain the old one’s architecture if you want to preserve good rankings as well. The main reason is that the old architecture is what got you to rank so high in the first place.
Changing it now would mean that you’ll have to start over in building your ranks. You can change the visuals or improve the functionality with the redesign but don’t make any changes to the architecture unless you absolutely have to.
Another factor that your architecture impacts is the consumers themselves. If they’re used to your old website’s navigation and categories, then changing the architecture will confuse them. Any negative impact on customer experience is a decrease in your search rankings because that very same experience is a ranking signal for search engines.
Set up 301 Redirects For Your Pages
301 redirects are essential for maintaining your search rankings. During the redesign process, some of your URLs may slightly change either intentionally or due to the simple oversight in the design itself. In any event, these slight changes may result in “404 page not found” errors and these errors may result in penalties by search engines.
In other words, you may lose your ranking due to these errors. That said, 301 redirects serve as a way for consumers to navigate from the old URL to the new one. As an example, a slight alteration in the URL can be the TLS (Transport Layer Security), formerly known as the SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate. Therefore changing the URL from HTTP to HTTPS can result in a 404 error. A 301 redirect will prevent that error from occurring and help you maintain your search rankings during the redesign process.
Redesigning a website can be challenging, especially if you wish to maintain the search rankings you managed to obtain with your old website. That’s why it’s of the utmost importance to plan your redesign well and ensure you do everything there is to do to make the redesign as seamless as possible and ensure your new website will favor the same search rank as your old one.