Strategic SEO Checklist for Website Redesign Success

7 min read

Launching a new website should present a chance to boost overall digital marketing, SEO, and conversion rates. If handled properly, it can be a good SEO situation.

The primary factors listed in this article should be considered when redesigning a website to maintain and even boost your SEO.
The first task is to learn how to incorporate SEO into your new website from the beginning, as maintaining and enhancing your SEO is essential to you.


A story of caution


It can be challenging to keep traffic flowing while redesigning.

When asked if there was a way to stop traffic loss during a redesign, John Mueller of Google gave a straightforward and firm response: no.
Throughout my professional life, I have witnessed numerous brand-new, costly, mission-critical websites that have destroyed significant, lucrative organic traffic.

Out of all the horror stories, one project has always resonated with me more than others.

The website belonged to a small charity that fought multiple sclerosis. The charity was underfunded because it supported a natural approach to helping people with MS.

Over several years, the website had progressively increased its organic traffic, but it desperately needed a makeover.

The new website was finally launched after a lengthy redesign over 12 months and involved two companies. The prospect of taking things further thrilled everyone.

Then, something happened: a 90% decrease in organic traffic.

This was not just turbulence; the volume of traffic did not increase.

The excitement gave way to fear.

After waiting for things to improve for a month, we took on the project as a pro bono effort and have yet to get any help from the two web design firms involved.

It is challenging to attempt to resolve these problems after the fact.

It is challenging enough to think about your organic traffic right away, but it is much more challenging to try to reverse-engineer the issues.

Regaining traffic could be difficult for various reasons if SEO is neglected.

Thankfully, after much suffering, howling, and gnashing of teeth, we retrieved about 90% of the traffic. However, it hurt everyone who was involved.

After assisting with designing a new website and incorporating SEO into the website strategy, the charity surpassed its historical organic traffic two years later.

We set specific SEO objectives and monitored SEO KPIs for this site, so we knew what worked and incorporated that knowledge into the website planning.

The lesson from the SEO website redesign is clear: if you don’t plan, you’re planning to fail.


The fundamentals of SEO and website redesign


Three essential elements are needed to maintain (and ideally improve) your organic traffic and rankings during a redesign:

An awareness of what aspects of your SEO are currently effective.
Awareness of typical problems that arise during a redesign.
An outline of all the changes to be made at the new location.
As always, I recommend aiming high. Try more than just retaining visitors. Try to make it better. Do some research to identify your advantages and disadvantages with SEO.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these topics.

What functions at the moment

If you manage SEO campaigns, you should know what is currently adequate, including high-ranking keywords and topics, organic traffic-generating pages, and additional organic visibility.

You can make sure that the design and planning of the new website consider what works by meticulously recording it. After all, you can’t rank for something that isn’t there anymore!

recurring problems

A website redesign may be necessary for various reasons, including traffic and lead generation, branding, and technological advancements.

During a redesign, the following things are usually subject to change or present issues for SEO:

It is possible to delete content. (If it is absent, it won’t rank!)
It is possible to alter the content.
Within the hierarchy of the website, content may change.
URLs could be converted.
Optimization at the page level could be limited.
It is possible to add new content.
The website may have new sections added to it.
It’s possible to use new features or technology.
Novel technical problems may arise.
The structure of internal links may alter.
There could be a change to the domain name.
The subdomain can change.
The procedure might alter.

Any of those above could harm your SEO. Identifying the underlying cause of issues becomes more challenging when there are several of them, such as when content is moved to a new URL or changes.

Your SEO problems may multiply due to multiple issues. Modifying your website’s architecture, CMS, hosting, and domain name all at once? This will increase the possibility of SEO issues.

Talk about this with the team to strike a compromise between the need to maintain and grow organic traffic and the desire for change. Remember that you don’t need to do everything at once most of the time, so reduce the number of variables.
Ensure that an SEO stakeholder is present and knowledgeable about what functions and needs to be considered for the new site during all website planning discussions.

Incorporate SEO into your plans early on; don’t try to make adjustments after development has begun.


What is the redesign going to change?


Equipped with an understanding of what functions well and what may go wrong, you can assess the objectives for the new website.

Critical objectives for SEO should be:

To maintain the current traffic and rankings.
To increase traffic and rankings.
In an ideal world, the new site would have a comprehensive sitemap that you could utilize to map out URL changes and compare them to the current site.


SEO checklist for website redesign


Fortunately, it’s pretty simple to prevent SEO disasters and maintain SEO during a website redesign if you prepare beforehand.

By adhering to this SEO checklist for website redesign, you can safeguard your valuable SEO rankings and traffic.


Maintain the previous website.

Keep the old site up and running on a private domain. Verify that a crawler cannot visit the website.

While having the previous website to refer to when you run into trouble can be helpful, some HTTP authentication is preferable.

Although a portion of the website is frequently available on web archives, having the actual version is still preferable.


Save the crawl data.

Even if the website is hosted on a temporary URL, save a crawl of the previous version. This is an excellent use for Screaming Frog, and if you need to do any analysis, you can load up the older website crawl again.


Fix nothing that isn’t broken.

Wherever possible, keep things duplicated, especially URLs. Significant less can go wrong if you can maintain the same URL structure and page names.

Adjustments are necessary, so accept that. However, ensure they are required for the greater good and aren’t just carried out for fun.

Recall that you don’t have to hold onto things that aren’t functioning.


Configure 301 reroutes.

The first task on your list should be to reroute outdated URLs to the new ones. When redesigned, try to preserve the content on the duplicate URLs.

For example, the URL structure can be preserved in a redesign on WordPress or Shopify. This is what’s wanted. If not, a spreadsheet with all of the URLs for the new and old websites is what you’ll need to test and implement your 301 redirects.

Once the new site goes up, you should crawl the older list of URLs to ensure everything 301 redirects properly (this is another use for that saved crawl).


Refresh your backlink profile.

Keep track of your backlinks and any URL modifications you make. Try to update these links using the standard link index tools and Google Search Console research.

Once you have a list, contact the website administrators to update these. Don’t worry. You should have a 301 redirect, but fresh backlinks can help the new site get indexed and ranked faster.


Take note of internal connections.

Any modifications to the internal link structure should be noted. Your historical crawl data may come in handy.

Your pages’ rankings may be affected if they formerly had thousands of internal links but now have very few.


Make XML sitemap updates.

Revise your XML sitemap and send it to Bing and Google.

To aid search engines in quickly recognizing the changes, we want our 301s, page structure, navigation, and XML sitemap to align with and reflect the new site structure.


Track positions

After a month or so of launch, you should return to your baseline (ideally sooner). However, you should expect some fluctuations.

Investigate any problems you may have right away to find and fix them. Be aware that deeper pages may take longer to crawl on larger, more critical websites.


Observe the organic traffic.

Since it’s impossible to rank-track every potential keyword that drives traffic to more significant sites, keep an eye on traffic to important pages to ensure your results are improving.

With Google Search Console, you can make a straightforward before-and-after comparison that will show you where there are drops so you can fix them.


Conduct a technical site assessment.

To give proactive information on any technical issues, it is ideal to use a specialized site audit tool.


Employ the Google Search Console

Google Search Console constantly evolves and provides you with diagnostic data straight from Google. You can track it here:

Sitemaps and indexing.
Page encounter.
Usability on mobile devices.
Products. Upgrades.
This information can assist you in tracking down and fixing issues if you are experiencing them.


While undergoing a redesign, maintain and enhance your SEO
Here, preparation is the critical component.

New websites fail for many reasons, but careless planning is always the main culprit.

In our experience, the leading cause of SEO failures during website redesigns is almost always a lack of preparation and a poorly thought-out SEO strategy for the new website.

You can confidently launch your new website if SEO is considered during the website redesign process.
If you still need help and need clarification, take a look at our monthly SEO packages and get assistance from the professionals.

Shilpi Mathur
[email protected]