Here’s how it could impact your SEO and search rankings

Doing a little website refresh on a regular basis is a good thing for your search rankings but if you’re about to embark on a full redesign (or you already have), then be warned – this can seriously undermine all that hard work you put in to your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) efforts and your organic search rankings.

If you’re thinking redesign then it’s important you work with a web developer who not only understands all of the intricacies of a seamless upgrade, but who will also monitor your before and after rankings – so you know exactly how these are impacted when your new site goes live. Here at Broadcast SEO we live and breathe this stuff and we offer a full range of Web Design services that are devised to get you noticed.

So what can go wrong when your snazzy new website launches if it hasn’t been designed properly? Here’s what:

  1. Page URL’s will probably change, and if there’s no redirection in place your potential customers will end up on a page with an error message (and that’s a guaranteed way to invite them over to your competitors).
  2. You’ll lose content if you don’t ensure that important pages are carried forward to your new site.
  3. Your meta information is no longer consistent or optimised for Google and other search engines.
  4. Your SSL isn’t redirected properly – Google gives higher rankings to websites that have SSL in place. So if your website comes up as “http” instead of “https” your rankings will suffer.
  5. Search engines index your new content before you launch your new site. This may sound great but if it happens, your new content will have no search value when you do launch because it will be duplicate.

If you want to make sure the launch of your new website gives you positive search results right from the get-go, then here are some of the things you need to make sure you implement:

URL Structure

Your new website will probably have a URL different structure to your old website, and in search engine terms that means you’ve created brand new

pages with no history or authority. We recommend wherever possible that you keep your URLs the same when you redesign your site, or if that’s not possible, make sure implement 301 redirects.

When you have a 301 redirect in place, the search engine value of the old page is transferred to the new page, helping to alleviate any loss in rankings you may experience when you launch the new site.

Content

When redesigning your website it’s often tempting to ditch the old content and start afresh – and while we do think updating your content is definitely a sound strategy, it comes with a word of caution as this can have a direct impact on your rankings in the search engines. You may have pages that you just don’t think are important any longer but trust us, these can have a serious impact on how relevant a search engine perceives your site to be.

Every page on your site that has content (so long as it’s relevant to what your website is all about) adds value to the site. This is the reason why larger sites with lots of content (like old blog posts or news items from several years ago), seem to rank better than smaller sites with less content. The reality is that even pages that get very little traffic still add value from a relevancy perspective.

In another piece of the rankings conundrum, don’t forget that alt-image tags are an important part of on page optimisation that shouldn’t be overlooked during the redesign process. Properly tagged images can rank in Google images and bring in additional traffic to your website.

Structure Meta Data

If you don’t capture what your website’s structure looks like before you redesign it, you’ll be setting yourself up for a massive fail. Whenever we redesign a client’s website, one of the first things we do is download all of the current structure, URL’s and meta data (title tags, meta descriptions). This makes it easy to copy and paste the information to the pages on your new site. You can do this yourself using an SEO spider tool like Screaming Frog.

It’s also an important opportunity to improve the current title and descriptions – and if you don’t have a web developer who reminds you of these things, the odds are that these haven’t been updated since Google extended the lengths of the titles and descriptions.

SSL

Google had a real push last year for more secure websites, and now rewards sites with SSL Certificates with a search-ranking boost.

When your site has an SSL certificate attached, you’ll notice in the navigation bar that is now shows as “https://” rather than the unsecured “http://”. These certificates make your entire site a secured place, without any malicious content present.

Https helps prevent intruders from tampering with the communications between your websites and your users’ browsers. This includes intentionally malicious attackers, and legitimate but intrusive companies, such as ISPs or hotels that inject ads into pages.

Noindex

It’s important to “noindex” your new site while it’s under development so that the search engines don’t index your new content (if this happens, when you do launch, your new content will look like duplicate copy).

Depending on the software your new site is built in, this can be as simple as ticking a box – for example, in WordPress, all you need to do is check the box that reads “Discourage search engines from indexing this site”.

Another option is to block the site in the robots.txt file. The code that must be placed in the top-level directory of your web server to block the robots from getting information is:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /

The “User-agent: *” means it is applied to all robots and “Disallow: /” means they cannot visit any pages on the site.

Need a hand?

Looking for the right web designer for your business? Make sure you check out our blog about how to choose the best designer to meet the specific needs of your business.

Questions?

Site redesign can be a tricky business if you don’t approach it the right way. If you’ve got any questions about kicking of a redesign project for your business, get in touch with us today – we love chatting about all things online!