Essentially, a website redesign is a process to revamp or refurbish several aspects of your website — content, SEO, design, layout, and more — to boost traffic, leads, performance, and conversions.
A website redesign may include changing the domain name, rebranding, product launches, updating content, adding new sections, improving the user interface (UI), and mobile user experience (UX), prioritizing SEO-rich content, and more.
Irrespective of the goal and purpose of website redesigning, there is one constant factor—dedicated focus on retaining your website’s SEO performance as Google must re-evaluate the website for its understanding. The bigger the refurbishment, the longer will be the re-evaluation process. Hence, a strong focus on SEO is needed to avoid a drop in traffic and rankings.
To avoid these issues, refer to this comprehensive SEO checklist to retain and improve your website ranking, following a website redesign.
For your convenience, we have segregated the checklists into 4 stages — pre-design, during-design, pre-launch, and post-launch.
Competitor analysis – Perform competitor research to derive inspiration about the website structures (pages, sections, keywords, etc.) of the top-performing websites in your niche area.
Keywords research – Keyword research and mapping help you to refine and build your website structure. Organize your keywords to create a content hierarchy with the help of Google Keyword Planner or Ahrefs Keywords Planner.
Website visualization – Visualizing the new website framework before executing it can help to plan better. Mind map software often helps to create a website visual hierarchy for better results.
Write copies – To accommodate new landing pages, create a draft of the information-rich copy by focusing on user intent.
Design UI – Google suggests creating 404 pages when designing the UI for new pages for the benefit of the users. If they access URLs that are no longer available, they must see a 404 error message and a redirect CTA, which leads them to the relevant pages. This way you can reduce the bounce rate as well.
Website audit – Taking inventory of your current SEO data helps you to protect your website’s biggest assets during the website redesign. An audit provides a complete view of all the assets you have to work with and gives you insight into your website performance.
Set up a staging website – Staging websites functions as a testing environment for a new design. You can make the necessary changes, crawl, or audit the staging website before the actual website is live.
Match your content – Match up your content addressing any 404 pages in your final test website crawl. Search for a matching title, meta description, and keywords on the test site crawl and ensure there is no duplication.
Replace old URLs with new ones – Determine old URLs that have been changed and don’t have redirects (301) set up.
Improve page speed – Page speed is important for delivering a positive user experience. A delay in mobile and desktop load times can majorly affect conversions. Hence, you need to quickly identify and fix errors that reduce your website speed.
Ensure a mobile responsive website – In today’s technology-enabled age, mobile devices constitute the bulk of your website traffic. As mobile performance plays a primary role in determining your rankings, a seamless viewing experience is needed.
Configure Google Analytics – Set up Google Analytics to track and understand customer behavior, user experience, device functionality, and more. Thereafter, prepare a 301 redirect to guide your users to the new link.
Create Hreflang attribute – For your multilingual website, create Hreflang tags that inform search engines that there are several translations of the same page available in various languages catering to different geographical locations. In doing so, search engines can improve user experience by speaking the website’s native language.
Fix launch time – The right time for a website launch is the time when it receives very less visitors. Hence, it is better to launch it after midnight in the time zone of your primary traffic source location.
Add annotation in Google Analytics– After the launch of your redesigned website, create an annotation in Google Analytics. It helps you mark when the redesign occurred and the changes you made.
Crawl new website for errors – A website may act differently in staging than it does on a live server. There may be some undetected errors that need to be fixed. Perform a final crawl after the launch.
Submit XML sitemap to Google – Google must crawl the new site to help ensure your new URLs appear in its results. This should be done immediately after launch.
Monitor website ranking and SEO visibility– Monitor your website ranking for a few months after the launch to check improvements in rankings, traffic, and bounce rates, as compared to the previous design. Also, overall monitoring of SEO visibility is needed to see the changes in traffic, average position in search engine results, traffic sources, search queries, and many more.
Website redesigning is a crucial task if you want to start your digital presence afresh. By following the checklist mentioned above, you can retain and improve your website rankings successfully so that you can get the desired results.