SEO Checklist for Website Redesign: How to Avoid Ranking Drops

Redesign your website to make your business more efficient and increase sales. A case study found that after a website redesign and SEO campaign, leads increased by 314 percent. That’s enough to turn a good idea into a great one. If your website isn’t performing as well as it could, it’s time for a redesign.

How can you avoid massive drops in your rankings during the redesign? These tips will help you implement an effective website redesign SEO checklist to ensure your new site puts your visitors first, while still gaining the benefits of search engine optimization techniques that have already worked well on your old site.

What Is a Website Redesign?

Before you jump into your redesign, be sure to know what it is. A website redesign may seem intuitive enough, but there are actually quite a few considerations that go into redesigning your site for more clicks and conversions. The first step is understanding whether you need a total site overhaul or if a simple makeover will do. 

This is a natural—and crucial—part of the process of building a website. Consumers believe that website design is a vital aspect of a company’s brand, with up to 50% believing so.

Benefits of a Website Redesign

Websites go through a number of changes and redesigns over their lifetime. Depending on how you manage your site, you could experience drastic changes if you don’t perform regular maintenance. 

In some cases, you might even need to remove outdated information or images. While these changes may seem like minor details at first, they can have a major impact on your website’s traffic and rankings over time.

  • Boost your site’s SEO and performance
  • Make the customer experience easier
  • Your content strategy should be refocused
  • Give your website a makeover
  • Provide up-to-date security provide faster load speeds

When Are Website Redesigns Necessary?

If you’re getting few or no leads from your website, a redesign could do wonders. This is especially true if your website is older and built using an outdated design. 

For example, a 2020 study found that websites built with Flash experienced an average ranking drop of 5 percent. So if you’re noticing poor leads coming from your site (or none at all), it may be time for a redesign.

Top reason for website redesign:

  • Conversion rates are low (80.8 percent)
  • Bounce rates are high (65 percent)
  • Need a better user experience (61 percent)
  • Not all gadgets are responsive (53.8 percent)
  • Webpage that is no longer active (38.5 percent)
  • Not search engine friendly (23.1 percent)

Website Redesign SEO Checklist

1. Audit Your Existing Content

Make a list of all your existing content—articles, ebooks, videos, social media posts, etc.—and check out their SEO value. It might be that you’re leaving money on the table by not optimizing your existing content properly. Or maybe your content is ready for prime time and doesn’t need further optimization. Either way, make sure you’re not missing any opportunities to rank well.

To begin, use a tool like Screaming Frog to extract data from all of your website’s URLs.

Then, using your analytics and Ubersuggest, conduct a full content audit to discover your most important pages, determine which pages are irrelevant or no longer needed, and determine which pages should be redirected or integrated with other sites.

2. Update Information Architecture

Before starting a website redesign, you’ll want to make sure that your site’s information architecture is user-friendly and as easy as possible for visitors.

A basic site map will show you which pages are most important, and how users may be accessing your content.

You can also use heat maps like CrazyEgg or ClickTale to track where users are clicking or dropping off within your content. Then, once you have a new design, put it through its paces with automated usability tests.

What your website is about, why visitors come to your site, and what information is most valuable all influence how you organize content.

To upgrade your IA, follow these steps:

  • Create a map of your current structure to begin.
  • Perform a competitor study to examine how your competitors’ websites are organized.
  • To see where users click and how they engage with your site, utilize a service like Hotjar.
  • Make a list of the important categories for your website on note cards or post-its.
  • Then, using the information you’ve gathered, create subheadings.
  • Make a list of the URLs for the pages you want to save and categorize them by subheadings.
  • Make a new sitemap based on what you’ve done so far.
3. Carefully Map URL Redirects

According to a Semrush assessment of 150,000 websites, 42.5 percent of those examined had broken internal links.

A URL redirect allows you to send visitors from an outdated or missing page on your website—such as a discontinued product or a landing page that no longer exists—to an updated or newly created web page. 

It’s important that you carefully map these redirects, not only for high-ranking search results but also for your visitors, who won’t want to be sent to a 404 error page.

To map URL redirects, follow these steps:

  • Make a note of all the URLs you want to maintain as well as the ones you won’t be utilizing anymore.
  • Make a new list of stuff that you want to keep and put it under a new URL.
  • Replace each old URL with the new one.
  • Replace the URLs you’re getting rid of with new content that covers the same topic.
  • Developers should be given the list of new content mapping cases to implement the redirects.
4. Improve the quality of the content you’re keeping

Determine what content you’re keeping isn’t hitting quality benchmarks. When it comes to your website, there are a number of factors that could impact its ability to rank, including page load time, bounce rate and keyword optimization.

If these metrics aren’t up to par on your current website, then it might be time for a redesign—or it might be time for an overhaul. Some sites can boost traffic through an SEO campaign alone; others may need a site-wide redesign.

A website redesign is a great way to freshen outdated information and breathe new vitality into it. By itself, this method can boost organic traffic by up to 106 percent.

Deterioration of content is a fact of life. New information becomes available, competitors invest in their material, and your top sites get pushed to the bottom of the search engine results page.

Dropping out of the top spot will instantly halve your organic traffic, thus it’s critical to enhance your current pages.

What else can you do to boost content rankings? Your website redesign SEO should help with the UX side of things, but what else can you do?

  • To see how your content is performing, use Google Search Console or an SEO tool like Ubersuggest.
  • Find out which keywords your best-performing content pieces rank for. Add target keywords to headers, increase keyword density (without cramming) throughout the content, and use keywords in picture alt text and file names to boost your results even more.
  • Examine stuff that isn’t doing as well as it should. Rewrite it or update it with new links and studies, as well as data points, expert interviews, and visuals or videos, to make it better.
5. Optimize Page Speed

Page speed, or how fast your site loads, is a major factor that search engines take into account when ranking your content. 

For example, if two of your competitors have sites that load 10 seconds faster than yours, then you can expect those pages to rank higher than yours. 

Don’t let slow-loading pages hinder your ability to dominate Google search results. Take a look at some of these expert tips for optimizing page speed and bounce rate while also maintaining beautiful design.

6. Update Your XML Sitemap

A sitemap is a list of all of your website’s content that search engines use to crawl and index your website. The more often you add new pages or update existing ones, then you should also make sure to update your XML sitemap with any changes.

You may either do it manually by adding each URL in your new site to the map, or you can use an SEO plugin like Yoast or AIOSEO to handle it for you.

7. Test Your Site After Redesign Is Complete

After your website redesign is complete, you’ll want to test how it will impact search rankings. In some cases, sites will experience a drop or rankings, which may be due to a number of factors. 

To ensure that you don’t experience any drops in ranking when your new site goes live, you can ask a designer who specializes in SEO to do an audit and make sure everything is up-to-date.

Redesigning an entire website is a massive task, so don’t expect everything to be perfect right away.

If you launch your new site without first testing it, these flaws might have serious effects.

You can assign particular duties to everyone involved in your site’s user testing.

  • CTAs should be tested, as should site navigation (all tabs/navigation links should be clickable).
  • Look at the links on the left side of the page.
  • If you utilize them, check out the forms, pop-ups, and exit overlays.
  • Examine both internal and external connections
  • Keep an eye out for interactive content and purchase pages.
  • Having people text on their computers, tablets, and phones (Android and iOS)

Frequently Ask Questions

  1. How much do website redesigns affect SEO?

    Sometimes a website redesign doesn’t affect SEO, but other times it does. When a website goes through a big change, whether that’s its visual design or its user experience, search engines might interpret it as a brand-new site. The brand-new site might not have any content on it yet, so that can hurt your search rankings while they get started.

  2. What are the most common SEO errors in website redesigns? 

    When it comes to website redesigns, some of the most typical SEO mistakes include neglecting to redirect URLs and not maintaining your most popular content.

  3. What SEO tools do I need for website redesigns? 

    For website redesigns, SEO tools are useful because they allow you to assess your performance. Google Analytics is vital, but ranking checkers such as Ubersuggest can also be extremely helpful.

Conclusion:

The Hidden Danger of Overlooking These Two Factors – Do you want your rankings to drop once you redesign your website? This checklist will ensure that your redesign is done correctly and does not harm your rankings. 

7 Things You Should Be Doing With Your Website Before A Redesign (Or Any Major Change) – A website change isn’t as simple as a one-two punch; there are many other changes that need to be considered when making significant alterations.

Rishabh Kolhe
Rishabh Kolhe

I am the founder of WealthyWork, I started my digital marketing journey in 2017. First, I started my career with SEO in Culturelligence, then after some time, I learned more about Digital Marketing. I worked as a Digital Marketer with Agile PeopleOps, a US-based HR organization. Now I am working in WealthyWork, We all specializing in Digital Marketing Services.

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