May 30, 2024

It’s not a decision you should take lightly. Small business owners make this decision often.

Owners often talk about redesigning their website every 3 to 5 years.

They’ve undergone a rebranding, which led to a redesign.

They’ve repositioned and need new messaging.

They want to optimize its functionality and processes to increase conversion rates.

When redesigning a site, there are many things to consider: the design, the structure of the website, the images that you’d like to use, and what message you wish to convey. All of them are important. One area that business owners, designers, and others often overlook (and do so easily) is the impact a redesign of a website can have on its SEO performance.

Cost of overlooking SEO when redesigning a website

You’ll have noticed that I am very honest about the time and effort required to implement an effective SEO strategy. Digital marketing is a continuous process. All that work can be wasted if you do not take the necessary steps to safeguard the optimization you have already done.

Search engines crawl your website using ‘bots.’ This helps them to understand the content and purpose of it. This is how search engines know which results to include in their searches. These bots will need to assess your site again whenever you make major changes to it. This can take up to two weeks, based on my experience. While it’s going on, there’s also a chance that:

Your search ranking will most likely change (and drop temporarily).

You may no longer appear in search results for keywords that you previously ranked for.

The amount of organic traffic (free) you receive will decrease.

Your SEO analytics will always change when you redesign your site. You can protect your SEO work and prepare your site to minimize these changes.

Ten tips to protect your SEO efforts during, before, and after a website redesign

In my role as an SEO Strategist, I have helped small businesses navigate site redesigns to avoid a total SEO disaster. What I have found to be the best way to preserve your optimization efforts and prevent a drastic drop in SEO analytics is what I recommend.

Get your timing right

There’s no perfect time to redesign your website, but there are times when you can schedule your redesign.

Identify your quieter booking periods. If you are a wedding photographer, you might find that the summer months tend to be slower. (Depending on the weather in your area). If you are a family portrait photographer, you will know that the lead-up to Christmas, as well as the beginning of the new school year, can be very busy.

It may seem not very comforting to not have your website available during slow times. Why would you consider taking your main marketing tool out of service when business is slow? SEO-wise, the site traffic will be lower during quieter times, so taking it offline temporarily won’t surprise your customers or search engines.

Download SEO reports before and after

Redesigning your website should improve your business. This can be done by enhancing your brand or your usability. It would be best if you had your analytics now to compare with the data collected after the redesign.

Download Google Analytics and Google Search Console Reports from the last 12 months. You should have good snapshots:

The number of leads that your website generates.

Check your website’s architecture

The site architecture is a fancy term for the way your website is structured. It is the way one-page links into another and what you want people to do on each of them. Sites that have clear, logical, and simple navigation tend to do better. This is because visitors are more likely to stay on the site longer.

Working with your designer or developer, understand the links between your pages, which pages will be placed under other pages, and what actions you would like your visitors to take on each of those pages.

Note: Your site’s structure may not change during the redesign. This is the exception, not the rule. Most of the time, you’ll see a change in your website’s navigation.

Find high-performing content

It may not be necessary to change blog articles or sales pages that are performing well on your website. It may be sufficient to redesign the site (e.g., Change the layout and colors (rather than replacing the images or text)

run a content audit to identify the content that is performing well. List the pages that don’t require rewriting or updating content. By telling your designer what pages are performing well and should remain intact, you can reduce the SEO impact.

Prepare for a decline in organic traffic

Google will send you organic traffic for free. It will decrease after a redesign. It will drop between 5-10%. However, mismanagement can cause it to fall off nearly completely.

It can be a little scary to see it all vanish. Try not to panic. If your new site follows best practices, it will recover and hopefully improve once the site is live.

Keep your URLs

It can be tempting to change a page URL when redesigning a website. If you’re making these changes, isn’t this the perfect time to also change the URL?

This is the fastest way to have broken links on your website. This will also result in the loss of any goodwill that other pages have earned for linking to your page. This is known as backlinking.

Keep your URLs consistent. If you need to change them, prepare yourself to spend some time fixing the links on your website. You’ll need to:

Let any site linking to the old pages know that the link has been changed (and hopefully, they will change it on their website).

Give the search engines time to crawl your ‘new’ webpage (since it will seem new to them).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *