Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, is one of the single most important factors for digital marketing. However, your website design has a huge impact on how your business fares online. So when your website is looking stale, an all-new, fresh, effective web design can prove invaluable for sourcing traffic and new business.
The good news, is that if the design of a website is changed, but the URL structure is same, it will not affect your SEO. A website redesign in itself, is not really going to have a huge impact on your SEO. Instead, it’s the actual site architecture that has an impact, due to the fact search engines read the HTML and index the content presented to them. Ensuring you implement the same URL structure when implementing a new site can be very effective for SEO purposes.
The dilemma many people have however, is that it’s well known you should expect a dip in rankings when redesigning your site, with an altered URL structure. Is a dip in your SEO rankings really worth it to have a new web design? The answer is yes, almost certainly.
A redesign is a great opportunity for your business to improve search engine rankings, by improving upon what you’ve been doing in the past. Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that if not done properly, you can damage your SEO.
Keeping exactly the same URL structure site-wide isn’t always the best option if you are totally overhauling your website. Improving your SEO, and getting better search engine rankings, means often the best thing to do is rethink your website content, and optimise it differently.
A new website redesign doesn’t have to have as much impact on your SEO or rankings as you may think.
Why is my website SEO impacted by a website redesign?
It’s to be expected when you move URLs to a new URL. When you change the URL structure, there will be some loss of page authority. Even if you have a 301 redirect in place, it will still “leak” some of the linkjuice that is gained in the past.
Recently, it seems to be less of an issue regarding a loss of traffic. What is necessary, is to do the move right. If everything is done right, there’s less chance of any damage being done.
The following runs through some tips to consider, in order to maintain your SEO rankings when going through a new website redesign.
301 redirects will direct users to your new pages, as well as passing on the PageRank. These are only necessary when you’ve permanently moved the URL of a page, but it is probably the most important part of any SEO strategy when redesigning a site.
Perhaps you’re changing the type of code your site uses, maybe from php to aspx. Every single page will need to be 301 redirected to the corresponding page on the new website. Despite the fact you will lose some proportion of page authority, it is still the best thing you can do. It is not the end of the world, and if the new website can help you grow in the future, it’s a worthwhile cause.
Keep the move controlled
If everything is done properly, your rankings could even go up. SEO is all about experience and providing users with top content at the end of the day, and a good web design should enable this. Your new web design should (obviously) be superior to your old one, and in doing so, should increase your chances of better rankings via SEO.
Problems usually occur when something has been accidentally messed with. For instance, don’t let the development site get indexed. This causes a lot of duplicate content, which will then need to be no indexed, and then it just causes a mess when everything is reindexed, and loses linkjuice along the way. If you’re careful, no errors will happen along the way. Maintain control, keep errors to a minimum, and keep SEO rankings stable.
Analyse your Inbound Links
Inbound links are essential to your SEO. So before you make the move, perform an inbound link analysis, and understand your current link profile.
If you can understand where you are currently getting your links from, then you are less likely to make mistakes you will regret later.
If you change URLs, then you can use 301 redirects. But if you have high authority links that could be contributing to your rankings, then it may be best to not upset the apple cart.
In the same vein, this analysis will allow you to double check everything is okay before you dismiss and delete any pages. High authority links to pages which you delete could cause a bit of disaster. Check in Webmaster Tools to ensure you aren’t about to wipe a page that is significant to your SEO rankings.
Move to HTTPS
Opting for HTTPS is something many businesses are now doing, and the best time to do so is when going through an overhaul of your website.
The pros and cons of HTTPS can be debated, but overall the extra security is a pretty good thing for your business. Google also looks upon it rather fondly, already highlighting a slight boost in rankings to websites featuring HTTPS. And this ranking signal is only likely to get stronger in the future. If you’re already looking to redesign your site, you should really be considering the switch to HTTPS.
Go for a Responsive Web Design
The chances are, if you’re looking at a new web design, you may have opted for a responsive web design. If you haven’t looked at them, then you really should be considering going responsive.
Responsive web design respond to any device it is viewed on; meaning your website can be optimally viewed on mobiles, tablets, and PCs, without having to have a dedicated mobile website.
What does this have to do with SEO, I hear you ask? Well, Google is a huge fan of mobile websites, and therefore will rank your site higher if it is mobile-friendly. Not only this, but Google are already showing warnings to mobile users when visiting a website unoptimised for their device, and so really it’s about future-proofing your website. What good is a website that, a year down the line, Google will be steering your customers away from when they attempt to find you on Google?
Maintain Optimisation when Redesigning your site
On your new web design, make sure that all your content is fully optimised. It can be easy to get carried away with focusing on the visual aspects of a site, that you completely forget about the practical side of how it will market your business.
Do your keyword research before jumping into your new website design, and ensure you’re fully informed as to what you want to rank for. Content pages should remain optimised, with all the right title tags, headings, and all the classic aspects that make good SEO.
Keep in mind how your website will achieve high rankings, and what you will do with the traffic you obtain. What good is a great looking website if no-one can find it?
Ensure new features or designs don’t negatively impact SEO
New technology, features, and add-ons can be good for your website; but always have your rankings in mind.
Sure, a nice social media plug-in may be great to share content and gain new followers. But what if it slows your site down dramatically? This is all added into your search engine ranking, meaning some features will need evaluating.