Are you planning to buy a new domain or want to redesign your existing website? Then you risk a drop in your search engine rankings if proper migration of your exiting site is not done properly. In some cases, designers, developers and site owners ignore vital details and pay a very heavy price for it when a revamped website goes live. That does not mean you should not make your website stronger with a refresh; however, when planning to revamp your site, make sure you, at a minimum, do the following:
1. Complete 301 Redirects
When you revamp your site, it is possible that some or even all of your URLs might get changed or deleted, even if you are not moving to a new domain. Deleted, obsolete pages are deleted from your website host yet are still present in search engine results leading to 404 Page errors. This will not only adversely affect the ranking of that single page, but will also negatively impact your whole site. Additionally, if searchers turn up 404 errors, they tend to search elsewhere.
How to Prevent 404 Page Errors?
- Map all the old pages to their respective new pages in an excel file. Then do a permanent redirect (301 redirect) of all the old pages to their respective new pages.
- Create an xml sitemap of the new pages and submit the sitemap via Google Search Console. This will let the Google crawlers know which pages to crawl and index.
- 301 permanent redirect will pass the page authority of the old page to your new page which would allow you to avoid as much as possible a drop in rankings.
2. Perform an Inbound Link Audit
Inbound links, also known as “backlinks” in the SEO industry, are one of the most important search engine ranking factors. Depending on their strength, backlinks help develop authority for your pages. In a website refresh, if a URL changes, backlinks that point to your old pages will need to be updated.
Tools to Check Backlinks: Ahref
Many people ignore the fact that direct links are always preferred over redirected links. Perform an inbound link audit and request the owners of websites pointing to your website to update their links.
3. Migrate Quality Old Content
Certain website pages can attract a lot of traffic to your website especially if informative, relevant content is present on those pages. When updating a website, many site owners delete the old content on their pages and then forget to re-upload it to the new page. Even content that unceasingly brings quality traffic to a website gets deleted resulting in lost website traffic. When making a new website live, make sure blog posts and other quality content are re-uploaded and added to all the relevant new pages.
4. Conduct an SEO Audit
An SEO Audit will help you identify issues and opportunities to improve the visibility of your website in organic search results.
Some Issues to Detect:
- Missing Title & Description Tags
- Duplicate Title & Description Tags
- Missing H1/H2 Tags
- Canonical Tags/Canonicalization of Similar Pages
- Internal Broken Links
- XML & Simple Sitemap
- Carryover of Tracking Codes and Other Codes
- Number of Crawl Errors
- Missing Content
- Pages Indexed in Search Engines
- Mobile & Website Speed
Overall, it is important to keep a track of your website rankings and traffic after a website launch. Any major inconsistencies with traffic or drop in rankings tells you there are issues that should be addressed.
Please note, after the launch of a refreshed website, there typically are minor fluctuations in rankings and traffic. Even if all migration details are handled perfectly, search engines still need to adjust. However, a main goal of a website redesign is the traffic and rankings are back to normal quickly and even improve. To achieve this goal, contact InterActive Circle to help. We can help you avoid a major, long-lasting drop in rankings and traffic. Our digital marketing strategists will figure out any issues, provide you with the correct solutions, and lead your improved website to a successful increase in organic results.