Spring cleaning is one of those deeply ingrained customs for everyone. At home, we spruce up each room, get rid of old things and apply a fresh coat of paint on door and window frames. For your business, you may consider giving your website a fresh new look and migrating from HTTP to HTTPS. In this case, you need to create a strategy for SEO for website redesign and migration.
Website Changes Have a Rippling Effect on SEO
Search engine optimisation is ongoing work and can be easily affected by changes in the way users search for terms, the way Google ranks pages and the modifications you make to your website.
Website changes (which we will call website migration in this article) can involve:
- Changing the site location: HTTP to HTTPS, new hosting service, new URL for international sites
- Changing your website platform – this involves even upgrading within the same platform
- Substantial changes to content – adding or deleting pages, changing the entire content in various pages
- Changing the structure of the site – different page hierarchy, new navigation, internal linking changes
- Changing the design – new template, site performance changes, new user experience.
If you don’t consider SEO for website redesign and migration, you will notice your organic traffic taking a nosedive. The reason is that Google is still attempting to index the old version of the site and cannot identify the new one.
SEO for Website Redesign and Migration Begins with Careful Planning
Your website is the online home of your business. If you were to move your family into a new home you would do your due diligence. You would ensure that you hire a moving company to bring all the belongings to the new address. You would make sure that the new house is free to move in on the agreed date. And you would make sure that everyone is notified of your new address, from friends and families to authorities and utilities companies.
This kind of due diligence is exactly what you need to do when you prepare a website migration. And it should start weeks, if not months before you actually implement the changes. Here is what you should consider planning ahead of time for your SEO for website redesign and migration:
1. Create a Map of the Redesign Structure
If you are redesigning or migrating your website, you should use this opportunity to optimise various aspects of the website that impact page speed and user experience, such as:
- Navigation structure
- Folder structure
- Image file size
- Consolidating pages with little content into a single page.
As you go carefully through your old website structure, you will definitely find obsolete content, dead links and other problems that negatively impact your SEO. Thus, SEO for website redesign and migration is not just necessary to maintain your current page rank, but also to improve it.
2. Set Up Redirects Carefully
Most certainly, you have lots of website pages shared on the social media and various forums, portals and guest post blogs. What happens when you change the URL structure? Those links will no longer work. Thus, your entire social media marketing and guest blogging work so far is worth nothing.
This is certainly not acceptable. Fortunately, there is something you can do about it: set up page redirects. This means that when a user clicks on the old link, they will be automatically redirected to your new, improved website.
3. Import Your Backlinks
Backlinks are the bloodstream for your website off-page SEO. They validate the good reputation and relevance of your site and boost your page rank. Therefore, you don’t want to lose them.
Here’s what you have to do as part of your efforts for SEO for website redesign and migration. Use an online tool such as Majestic to identify all your backlinks and make sure that all those pages redirect properly.
4. Review and Update Content
As we explained above, you don’t want to change content that already performs well. You should identify those pages that have the best position in SERPs and make sure they are kept as they are (or with improvements, if possible).
What you should look for is problematic pages:
- With less than 300 words text content
- Obsolete content (old promotions, contests, etc.)
- Products/services you no longer offer.
Whenever possible, restructure pages if their content is still relevant. Find a common topic for them and create a single page including all the information.
5. Review Mobile Friendliness
Finally, your strategy for SEO for website redesign and migration must include a set of actions to improve the mobile friendliness of your website. After all, Google is on the brink of completing its mobile-first indexing (forecast date March 2021). Thus, if you are freshening up your site, you must make it easy to browse on mobile devices as a basic prerequisite.