Going through a website redesign can be somewhat intimidating, not to mention a lot time and effort. One of the biggest concerns when doing this is the potential for losing SEO – a costly consequence for any website if the redesign is not handled properly. SEO consultants experienced in website redesign find that by implementing a few necessary methods during this process, a designer can minimize a loss of optimization that will affect the ranking of the new site.
Keep Everyone Communicating
SEO consultants advise that when there are multiple people working on a website, it is essential everyone understand that a redesign is in progress and the specific goals for a new website. Everyone needs to communicate and learn what problems are being remedied by a redesign, what new policies or methods are being put into place, and what each person or department’s part in the redesign will be in order to avoid duplication, missing things, and general confusion.
Use 301 Redirect Links
When emigrating from one site to another, changing page URLs will definitely result in a massive loss of optimization for that page and the entire site. It can also invalidate valuable incoming links that will no longer reach the right page. These are the main concerns SEO consultants and web designers face when going through a redesign; however, it is also some of the easiest things to work around.
The simplest, most effective answer for this part of a redesign according to SEO consultants is to create a new URL structure as similar as possible to the old one. The next step is create the new pages and apply 301 redirects from the old URL’s to the new ones, including any inbound links. By doing this, there is no loss of optimization and incoming links will still work. 301 redirects work to get users to the right page and also maintain existing page rank – which is the prime concern.
Along with 301 redirects, SEO consultants find that a new sitemap is another way to get Google’s indexers to recognize a new site and all its pages as quickly as possible. This does not replace using 301 redirect links, but should be used to help the process. The sitemap should be submitted to Google and other search engines to complete the procedure. The existing sitemap should also be taken down from the old site if necessary.
Send Change of Address to Google
When setting up a new website that will be using the same domain as the older site, it is also important to notify Google of this change to speed up re-indexing of the site and its pages. This can be easily accomplished by using the Change of Address function in the Google Webmaster’s toolbox.
Generally speaking, it is not difficult to avoid SEO disaster when doing a complete website overhaul; however, it does require careful implementation, use of a similar URL structure, and thorough redirects. It is also important for those involved in the redesign to understand what changes are being made, and how. Through the gradual switch from the old site to the new version, SEO consultants find these are the biggest factors in maintaining website function and preventing loss of optimization as the relocation occurs!