Trends come and go, and what may have seemed cutting edge with your web site a few years ago may now seem hokey and old-fashioned. Or perhaps your brand identity has changed or you have widened your niche and your website no longer reflects your company accurately. Re-designing your website can help you to create a professional and up-to-date image for your company that can help you to attract new customers and increase sales.
However, redesigning your website can often cost you some of the SEO gains you’ve worked so hard for over months or even years. It’s important to take the right steps to make sure you don’t lose traffic when you undergo a redesign. Here are a few tips for how you can maintain your page rank during a design change:
Perform an Inbound Link Analysis
Your inbound links are some of your most powerful assets in your SEO strategy. The more inbound links you have, the higher your page rank will be. Losing any of these links can cause you to lose your page rank and your traffic. When you redesign your site, you risk losing links as a result of changing URLs and page structure.
Perform an inbound link analysis so you understand the source of all your links. Decide which ones you want to keep (hopefully you’ll have quality inbound links and will want to keep all of them) and then contact each of those site owners to let them know about the new link and to ask them to update it.
Create 301 Redirects
A 301 redirect will automatically forward an out-of-date web page to the new URL. Creating 301 redirects for all of your old pages is a great way to ensure that you don’t lose any of your traffic because visitors follow a link to an out-of-date page. Redirects can help you save traffic from inbound links as well as any search engine results that have not yet been updated with new indexing.
Maintain URL Structure
Wherever possible, it is advisable to maintain your URL structure. This includes not only maintaining your URLs for individual pages but also maintaining the navigation path to those pages. You can update the content and the look of the pages, but try to keep the URL structure in tact. If you can manage to do so, you won’t have to worry about losing any of your traffic to outdated links or to a dropping page rank.
Keep Popular Pages
Your best content is going to have the best link juice for your site. Don’t risk losing the power these pages offer by eliminating them in the redesign. Identify your most popular pages – by traffic or by number of links – and transfer those pages in whole exactly as they are. Include the same URLs, the same content, and all the same on-page SEO. By transferring these pages with your new site, you can transfer the SEO power they carry.
Submit a New Site Map
The main reason that so many sites lose page rank when they undergo a redesign is that search engine spiders have to re-crawl and re-index the site, treating it almost like a new site. You can make it easier for your site to be indexed quickly by submitting a new site map as soon as possible. Google can use this blueprint for your site to find the most important information and to rank it quickly.
You will need to invest in a redesign from time to time in order to ensure that your site stays relevant and accurately reflects your company’s branding. However, you’ll also need to make sure that you don’t lose your site’s page rank and traffic in the process. Use these tips to make sure that your redesign goes smoothly and takes your page rank with it.
About the Author:
Bridget Sandorford is a freelance blog and culinary writer, where recently she’s been researching online cooking school. In her spare time, she enjoys biking, painting and working on her first cookbook.