It’s inevitable, given the constantly evolving state of the internet, that every site will have to be redesigned from time to time. Even an effective site which once looked really good will eventually begin to look stale and old-fashioned. Users expect change, and if a site remains static for too long, it runs the risk of being perceived as out-of-touch and losing customers to more modern looking rivals.
A redesign can be a great boom to a website, but only if it’s done with proper SEO in mind. If it’s neglected, even the redesign of a site with good SEO can end in disaster, with years’ worth of hard work flushed down the drain. Here are the different aspects of SEO to keep in mind during a redesign to preserve good SEO efforts that have already borne fruit.
Maintain important keywords
Before launching a new site, do some investigating into the old site’s important keywords. Which keywords does it rank well for? Which keywords bring the most traffic to the site? Which keywords lead to the highest number of conversions? These are the keywords it is imperative to include in the new redesigned site. Make sure they are in both the on-page content and the html tags essential to SEO, such as title tags and meta descriptions.
Maintain important pages
Just as important keywords need to make it over to the new site, so too do important pages. Identify the pages that rank well in Google, the pages that drive the most visitors to the site, and the pages that lead to the most conversions. These pages all need to have counterparts on the new site.
Keep the same URL
If a site has been around for a while (and proper SEO work has already been done on it), it has likely acquired some authority in Google’s eyes, links from outside sites, and real-life visitors who visit the site directly and are familiar with the brand associated with that URL. Switching to a new URL during a redesign sacrifices all of these hard-earned benefits.
The only reason to switch to a new URL is if it will lead to a significant increase in organic traffic. But be careful – URLs can be deceiving. Keywords that sound good and garner a high number of searches are often too broad to be effective. And with the updates Google is continually making to its algorithm, it’s harder to game the system with a ‘good’ URL than it used to be.
Improve the user experience
If a site’s SEO is already good, then the main focus of the redesign should be on improving the user experience. Really, usability is a part of good SEO. If a site isn’t user-friendly and lots of people bounce off of it back to the search engine results page (SERP), then Google will downgrade it in the rankings because searchers aren’t responding positively.
Every page should serve a purpose for an actual human being. ‘SEO’ tunnel vision can lead to confusing and nonsensical sites that don’t provide utility to the user. In the new age of search engine optimization inaugurated by Google’s Panda and Penguin updates, this is the worst type of site there is.
If all of these steps are taken, the SEO work that’s been done on the site should be preserved. Then the redesign can focus on the important business of improving the user experience, which will improve SEO even more, not to mention drive increased revenue.