You and your marketing team have decided it’s time to redesign your website. It’s great to refresh your front-end periodically, but be sure you don’t make the mistake of leaving behind everything you’ve gained – rankings, organic traffic and revenue – from your current site’s SEO.
Don’t Forget the SEO
You might not think those historical pages are relevant to where you want to take your business moving forward, but if you don’t want to watch your traffic take a big hit when you cutover to the new site, evaluate your content and your URLs carefully with respect to SEO credibility. And bring your SEO team to the development table.
Crawl Your Existing Site
A site crawl grabs your current URLs, structure and meta data, and gives you a roadmap of your current site that makes it easy to match to the setup of the new site.
Conduct a Site Audit
There isn’t a better way we know of to help you identify problem areas (so as not to repeat them) or sections to keep. Using the data from your crawl, look for things like missing, duplicate or multiple H1 tags, broken links, missing or duplicate page titles. Also manually look for information on your site’s performance and speed, duplicate content, and any pages Google has indexed.
Be Sure You Noindex Your Test Site
Search engines will start to index the great content you’re adding to your test site unless you noindex it. If you don’t noindex, when your new site goes live, the content will show as duplicate!
Crawl Your Test Site
This important step lets you compare your test site with your old site and quickly identify what is missing. You can make educated decisions on what content, if any, to dump once you know exactly how it is performing on the old site related to SEO. Even if old content isn’t getting a lot of traffic, if it suddenly disappears Google, etc. may penalize your new site and drop your rankings.
Analyze and Plan
Your SEO team should end up with an excel spreadsheet that will make it easy to see what needs to be done to maximize the SEO opportunities with the content moving to your new site. You’ll also easily see which pages will be brand new, requiring careful SEO treatment to help them rank quickly and with authority.
Keep in mind that no matter how well you manage the SEO transition, between 10 and 30 per cent of your link equity will be lost. You should be able to build that equity back up fairly quickly.