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How to Redesign Your Site Without Killing Your SEO

Marama Carmichael

There are plenty of reasons to redesign your site if its performance is sub-par. Making it mobile-friendly, restructuring your site navigation, and switching to a different content management system can all vastly improve your site’s user experience.

There is, however, one major reason not to redesign your site: it could kill your SEO campaign if you’re not careful. Plenty of businesses have witnessed their organic traffic disappear into thin air thanks to a botched redesign.

The good news is that with a thoughtful strategy, you can both maintain and improve your site rankings following a site redesign. It all starts with knowing what factors will be affected the most.

Where you stand to lose

There’s a lot that can go wrong when you start messing with your site’s navigation, links, and content. This Search Engine Land article handily provides a nice, compact list of all the potential SEO problems that come with a site redesign:

  • Content can be removed. (It won’t rank if it is not there!)
  • Content can be changed.
  • Content may move within the site’s hierarchy.
  • URLs may change.
  • Page-level optimisation may change.
  • New content can be added.
  • New sections can be added to the site.
  • New technology or features may be used.
  • New technical issues can be introduced.
  • Internal link structure could change.
  • Domain name may change.
  • Sub-domain may change.
  • Protocol may change.

This list is comprehensive, but not shocking in any respect. A site redesign will very likely change your site’s content, URLs, and domain name.

The important thing to note is that a change in any one of these factors can make a huge difference in your SEO. If you ignore any of these elements, then you’re gambling with your site rankings.

Where you stand to gain

As long as you pay special attention to your content, links, site navigation, domain name, and load speed, you’ll be able to maintain your current site rankings. Some businesses, however, want to redesign their sites specifically for SEO reasons. In that case, here are some areas to focus on to improve your site rankings:

Make your site mobile-friendly

If your old website wasn’t mobile-friendly, then you stand to gain a lot just by making sure your new site works on smartphones and tablets. Google’s mobile-friendly test is a free, popular tool to check if your site meets the minimum requirements. Mobile-friendliness is an important factor in Google’s search algorithm, so hitting this benchmark can give your site a sizable SEO boost.

Have a place to post new content

Both search engines and users want to see that your site is active. Besides satisfying that criteria, posting new content to your site helps establish thought-leadership and brand credibility.

When redesigning your site, make this a point of focus. Even if it’s just a blog, you need a dedicated page for sharing fresh content with your website visitors. Also be sure to add social buttons to make each post shareable.

Good programming abilities = SEO expertise 

This last point addresses a common misconception. Good programming abilities can in no way make up for lack of SEO expertise.

A programmer has the tools to edit your source code, optimise your site’s load speed, and create an intuitive site navigation. But without knowing what the SEO standards are, they won’t be able to optimise your entire site.

That’s why it’s important to work with someone who has experience in SEO, especially when it comes to redesigning your site. If you just bring in a full-stack developer who doesn’t care about things like organic traffic, then that will be reflected in your marketing metrics.

To talk more about web design and SEO, contact us today.