The Internet and web design world move at an astonishingly fast pace, meaning that websites need to keep up with the latest technology, industry standards, and best practices to remain competitive.
When it comes to website redesigns and migrations, businesses and web admins need to lay the groundwork well in advance to ensure that upcoming changes don't compromise their organic search campaigns.
You need to understand why you want or need to undertake a website redesign or migration in the first place, as there can be many genuine reasons for implementing one and a few wrong ones. If your brand message and identity have changed, or if the actual purpose of your website needs to be updated, understanding why you want a redesign is essential so you can map out the necessary changes you'll need to make.
From the need for a faster site to one that offers better functionality, with the right kind of planning, websites can be very flexible with the type and amount of changes you can make without having to start over.
If you are undertaking a migration or redesign on behalf of a company or client, you must discuss and outline each step and element involved in the process. This is because undertaking a redesign or migration is both challenging and highly technical, meaning site owners must fully understand the dangers and consequences that could occur.
You can create a blueprint and carry out a risk assessment and try to predict potential problems and solutions to those problems. Having an idea about issues early on can help you easily mitigate and deal with them at later stages.
Before making a significant change to the content or structure of the site, it would be a good idea to do some testing before implementing it on the new site.
When it comes to SEO, many factors can affect page ranking, and a sudden change can have a negative impact, and you will find it difficult to understand what factor may have caused it. So if you can try some of these ideas gradually and if they don't affect your ranking, then you can implement them with the redesign.
Making sure to redirect URLs to new ones should be one of your first tasks, so try to keep your content to the same URLs. However, if this is not possible, you will need to inform your old spreadsheet of your old URLs so you can test your 301 redirects.
After running the scan, be sure to check the confidence value. You should go to any URL with a value of less than 80 to be safe. But, from my limited testing, it seems to pick up URLs nicely and uses more than just character matching. It's also great for matching dead 404 pages so you can redirect them to an appropriate carrier.
It would help if you had a clear plan and roadmap for migration. The danger is, of course, that mistakes can lead to a loss of organic traffic and rankings. Although every website redesign checklist will be different from the site and process in question, SEMrush has a very useful checklist, which you can modify depending on the changes you plan to make.
Even with that at hand, creating your own is key so that you can dial in pre-release, release, and post-release states. This is also useful for highlighting progress made by stakeholders. It might also be worth creating an SEO checklist to cover all possible eventualities and outcomes.
If you have a project management tool, they recommend moving tasks around and assigning different roles so that each team member involved in the project has a clear understanding and also gives you a chance to spot potential issues before it's too late.
After following all the best practices and redesigning, monitoring your site's performance, not only the keyword rankings but also the overall results, is essential.
You must also add annotations to your Google Analytics account. With annotations in place, you'll be able to see if your redesign has caused sudden visibility issues, and you'll be able to pinpoint the issue more efficiently.
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