7 Steps to Relaunch Your Website Without Affecting SEO
Your company has outgrown its existing website, and a revamp is in order. A relaunch definitely involves changing the overall look and design of the site. Change is really necessary because Google constantly updates its algorithm and includes new ranking factors that are based on user friendliness, trustworthiness, and accuracy. Your website should adapt itself to the changing web design trends so that the users find it easy to browse through it.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
You’ve got to be very thorough about the entire process. Why? Well, you remember how hard it was to raise your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ranking in the first place; all the time, effort, and money it took to build up link authority and rankings. You wouldn’t want all that to go to waste, right? Thus, you need to devise a proper strategy before you relaunch your website. The goal should be a smooth transition. Below are seven steps to make your site’s SEO bulletproof during the relaunch process.
Crawl New URLs and Get 301 Redirects Right
You can’t rush moving your content to new URLs. You need to get your priorities straight and know what you need to move. Crawling your pages helps in this regard, but the process can be quite tricky, especially when you’ve got a lot of pages on your website or the site navigation is very complex. You should make sure the crawling is done right. How? Well, you need a good, reliable site crawl tool. You should also run a check of your externally linked pages to ensure that every single one is receiving link authority while moving your content.
Keep an eye out for pages with more than one external link pointing to it. During the new URL-building process, you need to maintain link authority by ensuring each page gets redirected to the new corresponding URL.
Check all the URLs on your present website that drive organic traffic. Make sure that the new site has an equivalent page. You also have to implement a 301 redirect plan. This will prevent you from losing valuable link equity and traffic.
There are situations where you will have to redirect each page manually. This is a lot of work, especially if your website has hundreds or thousands of pages. However, if you make a spreadsheet noting where every current URL will redirect, it’ll prove handy in keeping track whether all the content was moved correctly or not. Your goal is to make sure the link authority of old URLs successfully transfers to the new URLs.
Audit Your Website
SEO problems on your current website can carry over to the new URL if left unaddressed. A comprehensive audit is required to prevent such a thing from happening and to also provide insights into the redesign process, such as the mockups, staging site, content plan, etc. When you hire an SEO practitioner to audit your site in the initial stages of the relaunch, it ensures your site gets built correctly the first time around, thereby eliminating the need for last minute patch-ups and re-work tasks. An SEO audit is required both before and after the relaunch. This helps to determine that your SEO strategy is up-to-date and that you’re not missing out on any significant search engine traffic and customer attention.
Use Meta Robots Tag
You need to ensure that Google doesn’t penalize your site for duplicate content or index the content you don’t want them to index just yet. “Noindex”-ing the pages on the development website works. This implies that you’re instructing the search engines not to include the pages in their search results database. You can do this by adding a meta robots tag having the “no index” value set for every page. If you’re running WordPress, you can use the admin panel to do the same.
Follow a Phased Approach
Rather than making a large switch at the same time, you could try moving a subdomain, a subcategory or subdirectory at the beginning. Once you validate that this works, you can move the rest in smaller chunks. This lowers the possibility of failure. Move a section, wait for Google to crawl it, and see how that works out. You can then move on to the next section.
Update the Sitemap
This is an easy step, albeit one that a lot of people forget to make. You need to add new URLs to the XML sitemap. The old URLs must be phased out in time. Moreover, you should consider different XML sitemaps for separate content types. This helps keep everything organized. Make sure you add your sitemap location or index to both the Google Search Console and your robots .txt file, especially if the URL of your sitemaps are changing along with the relaunch.
Make Use of Email Subscription/Signup Service
The merits of capturing the email addresses of potential customers are visible once you relaunch your website. You never lose sight of your target audience and can use their email details not only to alert them about the relaunch but also to promote any new products or content. However, before the relaunch, make sure you consider exactly where and how you’re able to offer something to attain permission for creating an email list.
One way to build a good list is to provide customers offering their email exclusive access to content pieces, videos, whitepapers, services, etc. Emails can also be collected from comment registration, an RSS subscription, or a regular email newsletter.
Make Sure Your Social Accounts are Connected
You should always add the relaunched site to your social account as a reference point. If not, make sure you carefully visit each of your social profiles and ensure they link back to the relaunched website. This provides an opportunity for leveraging your current online participation and branding to help direct traffic to your new site.
Website relaunches are common, and sometimes necessary. Relaunches help your site deliver the finest user experience, and enable your businesses to maintain their relevance and update branding, among other things. Relaunching doesn’t mean you hit the ‘Reset’ button on your existing success. Just make sure your SEO does not get affected, and enjoy the success of your relaunch.