Organic traffic is the highest converting traffic on your website. To encourage more organic traffic to your site, updating and redesigning your website is super important. But while you are doing this, how do you retain your SEO rankings that you have built up? Updates, redesigns and adding information are necessary to keep your website current, interesting and competitive, but there are tricks to keeping your SEO rankings high.
Don’t confuse your customers
Familiarity may be the key to your success of retaining your SEO rankings. If completely redesigning your website is your objective, bear in mind that if you already have a large audience it would possibly be best to have some familiar features and look and feel of your new site to the old site. The SEO rankings for your site take a long time to build up and in order not to lose it, the flow and structure should remain similar to what your original site looked like. Keep track of your headings, meta descriptions and tags with various tools being available, for example Screaming Frog. This is a tool that crawls websites’ links, images, CSS, script and apps from an SEO perspective.
Create a sitemap
Once again, tools like Google Sitemap Generator are available for creating a site map. This will enable you to check that your formats, URL’s, text, images and videos are suitable and discoverable to Google. A sitemap is a file where you provide all information about your pages, content, images and the relationship between them. Search engines like Google read the sitemap file to crawl your site more intelligently.
Make a copy of your site
Don’t make the mistake of working on your original live site. If you are working in something like WordPress, create a copy with a different domain for making all your changes and updates. In this way your viewers will be completely unaware of the updates you are busy with and it will be business as usual on your live site. Creating a temporary URL to redesign your website, is a good way to ensure that you retain your SEO rankings while upgrading.
By improving the content of your site, your SEO rankings can improve. Be aware of using H1 and H2 headings that have already created good SEO rankings in your original site. The user experience (UX) attributes of pages needs to be taken into consideration regarding navigation and suitability for small devices.
At some point in the redesign of your website, you may need to redirect traffic to another URL. What you don’t want happening is that viewers are getting a 404 error when trying to access pages on your site. Therefore the set up of 301 redirects to live pages on your site is very important. Too many 404 errors will impact your SEO rankings negatively and proper steps need to be followed especially when deleting pages on your site.
Once your new website has been created, updated and redesigned the importance of testing the usability and functionality is paramount to the success of retaining your SEO rankings. Broken links can often be a problem. There are tools available to use for checking the site, a popular tool being Google Webmaster. It is a free tool that offers a service to anyone with a website, it offers insights into how Search Engines see your website and helps you to uncover any issues that may need fixing.
It is important to remember to submit your new URL to the major Search Engines, Google and Bing. This will allow your new site to be crawled. Often it is best to engage the services of a web developer agency to assist with this, ensuring the smooth transition. A SSL certificate and an adjusted robot.txt file are necessary for your site to be able to be indexed by the search engines.
Once it is all up and running, the monitoring of SEO rankings should be ongoing. Take note if website traffic slows down as there may be more SEO changes that require your attention. For instance you may need to check that your keyword selection is correct and that any new text you have created is in line with your keyword selection.
To retain your SEO rankings when redesigning a website can be tricky. Increasing and maintaining your SEO rankings is a continuous process and should often be addressed. Whilst redesigning your website, keep SEO in mind. It is recommended that you hire a professional, especially if your current website has a high SEO ranking. MC Pawley has many years of experience – we have solutions to all your SEO queries.