Over our website’s lifetime, we have to maintain its SEO, so how to launch a new website without losing Google search rank?
Most website owners think that SEO only has to be done once. But in reality, it is affected every time there are alterations in redesigning the website. If the modification is not handled properly, then there could be a negative outcome on the website’s SEO, which could affect its growth.
Today, we will discuss how you could launch your old website into a new one without losing Google search rank.
Why Consider SEO in Launching a New Website?
It could have been a couple of years since the last time you redesigned your website, or you could have changed your marketing strategy. But for whatever reason, website redesigning or migrating to a new CMS requires a lot of planning and hard work.
One of the most significant concerns when redesigning a website is its SEO ranking that you’ve worked so hard on. But why is it important to consider a website’s SEO rank during a revamp? Simple, because you have a lot to lose.
Let’s put it this way– your website has a high SEO ranking, it has stable ranking, organic traffic flowing, and revenue growing. Redesigning your website may affect those things, and you do not want to put your hard work to waste, right?
But, if you plan it strategically, it could help you improve your website’s performance. So, if you do your redesigning correctly, you will not have a problem with losing your traffic or rankings. In fact, you will gain more.
You have to understand the SEO viewpoint of your website and how the test site is built. Go through these pre-launch, during, and post-launch steps to avoid ruining your SEO when redesigning your website.
Back to Table of Contents
Before you take a leap in redesigning your website, you need to know where your website stands. These pre-launch methods are a necessary reference point for the post-launch methods. They are helpful for evaluation.
Check and Download the Inventory of Your Current Website
These are the following areas that you should look on when taking the inventory of your website:
Current SEO rank
As SEO is our concern here, we have to consider the website redesigning impact as it could affect valuable content from your old pages. Check and review the current ranking of your web pages in Google Analytics. Take note of the keywords that help the ranking of each page.
Crawl Current Website
Website crawling will help you determine how your website looks, its current URLs, meta description, and title tags. If you have an idea of these things, you can match them with the new website.
Your SEO will provide a roadmap on how your entire website is currently set out. The best way to download the data is by using a tool like Screaming Frog. If you have the metadata and structure of your current website, you will have an idea of how to match the new site up.
Verify block content with Robots.txt or on Google Search Console, formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools. It is best to have a list of the content to ensure that they are continuously blocked after the website redesign.
Do not redesign your existing website. It will cause visitor issues and create problems in the long run. The best approach is to copy the site and set it up in a temporary URL. Once it is done, you can start creating changes. Once all the required changes are made, switch the domain.
If you are experiencing struggles in redesigning, you can ask for help from your developer. You may also let the hosting company do it for you. Letting the hosting provider do it for you will protect you from unforeseen issues in the future.
Make the Content Similar as Possible
You have to determine which tags have to stay the same. It does not mean it is not broke. You do not have to fix it. You still have to improve it. During the redesigning method, you have to make changes to the content and ensure that the changes are small and deliberate.
Do not change the URL, meta description, title tag, and the headline tags. These are the commonly crawled areas that have already ranked on Google.
Keep Some Elements of the Overall Website Structure
You might change some of the structure based on your new website strategy and goals. But, if possible, keep some of the elements of the overall website structure. Search engines know your website’s current structure, so by maintaining it, you have an assurance that it would not affect the website’s rank by maintaining it.
Also, remember your existing visitors, you do not want to change their structure and confuse them once they revisit your website, right?
Are you satisfied with the new web design? Even though it looks impressive in staging, once you set the site live, there are several things you have to ensure to maintain your SEO. Here are the quick methods you could to ensure that you are doing it right:
Remove the “No Index, No Follow”
Removing the “no index, no follow” tag can be simple, but overlooking this method could change the results of your web redesigning. So, there are two ways on how you can do to “ no-index” your site.
- Go to the “no index” box on the CMS website and tick on the box. If you are using WordPress, you can check the box that says “discourage search engines from indexing this site.” Check the photo for reference below:
After doing so, add the code in the <head> tag on every page:
<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex,follow”/>
2. Another option is to block the website in the Robots.txt file. This method is a bit tricky; that’s why it is better to have the box-ticking option on your CMS. If your CMS does not offer the method, you can input these code on the Robots.txt file:
Manually insert the code to the header file, and you can implement the no-index.
Check the 301 redirects of the old and new URLs to ensure that both URLs are functioning, and you will not lose any benefits from the SEO gained from your previous URLs.
Let’s take this as an example, your “Contact Us” page on the old site has the URL of “www.yourwebsite.com/contactus.html”
After redesigning the web, you changed the URL to “www.yourwebsite.com/contact-us.html” it is best to implement the proper 301 redirects. If you do not do it correctly, the search engine will tell give a prompt message– “404 web pages not found.”
301 redirect is the technical method to inform the search engine that you have changed the URL. That way, Google will not downgrade your previous efforts. You can easily add redirects using the .htaccess file. The following code would look similar:
Redirect 301 /oldwebsite http://yoursite.com/new-url
If you are confused and you do not have an idea of how you could do it manually on WordPress, you can try out the plugin. Redirect 101 is a critical step, no matter what.
Test the New Website
Now that you have copied your existing website into the new website, you have to crawl it to understand how it is structured and compare it to your current website.
- Crawl the current site and make a copy. Save the copy under the document name current site crawl for edit. Serve this file as the editable copy.
- Open the new website and crawl the site. Export the file and save the document as a new website crawl for edit.
- Take the current site crawl for edit and find and replace all the URLs in Excel. Replace the domain name “example.com” with the domain of the new website, “new.example.com.”
- Select all the URLs and copy them into a .txt file. Save the document under the name new website crawl for Screaming Frog.
- Open the tool, Screaming Frog. At the menu bar, locate mode and select list. You can upload the .txt file to the crawler.
- Identify all of the URLs you changed on the new website crawl for edit file, pop them into the Screaming Frog tool, and start the program.
- You will have the URLs crawled at this time. Allow the crawler to crawl blocked or noindexed URLs. Click the configuration and spider. Tick the box with the description ignore robots.txt.
Go over the advanced setting on the same tab, and go over the respect noindex. Untick the box.
Download the HTML and save it under the file name final crawled new website. Now, you can check on the website which worked and which did not. You can understand what is lacking from the new website that is on the current website.
Monitor the Changes
It is important to keep track and monitor the changes after redesigning and launching your new website. You could either see potential growth, or you would know whether there are problems to troubleshoot.
Check Site Rank
Rank check allows you to measure the website performance for host keywords in the search engines. You can compare the data of the old and newly launched site. You can identify the problems easily once you see the results. If you notice that a keyword jumps from the first page to the tenth page, then there is a problem.
Check the following to identify the problem:
- URL changes
- Metadata changes
- Page content
- Redirect in place
- Noindex tag in place
Do not delete anything from your old posts. Old content adds credibility to your website. Without any of them, you will lose your value.
Always check the ecommerce tracking, goals, and event tracking in place. Check the analytics code in the head tag of your web pages.
We recommend you monitor the new website for at least two to three months.
Common Problems You May Encounter
You may encounter different problems. But it is crucial to have an idea to understand why it is happening quickly, and it gives you an idea of how you could approach the problem to avoid losing your SEO value during a redesign.
There are common problems with web redesigning, and they all come up against:
- Communication – There’s no doubt with how important communication is, the lack of it would branch out to several redesigning problems. You should always start with a strategy meeting with the web developers or anyone who is an expert with web designs. Always keep the communication open.
- Failure to Implement Redirects – Implementing redirects is a critical step. After you have laid out the redirects, they are important to put in the correct segment, and they function.
- Lacks Meta Data – Crawls are changing endeavors. You cannot afford to launch the new website if there is lacking information. If you force the search engine to guess what they should fill in on the missing information, you would expect to have a negative result.
- Missing Content – We sometimes overlook the value of our content. It takes time to have the right content in the right places for the newly launched website.