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As technology, design, expectations and trends change over time, a website redesign allows your business to remain trendy and competitive in the ever-growing online marketplace.
However, while a redesign is an essential task, it can present certain risks, especially from an SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation, perspective. Failing to take the correct SEO precautions can lead to search engines potentially no longer view your website as an authoritative site, a site which no longer has the answers to relevant queries.
Losing your search engine rankings can see you generating less traffic, fewer leads and ultimately less sales, something no business wants to risk.
Knowing the potential risks to your SEO may help you avoid making any mistakes that could cause damage to your organic search engine traffic. So let’s take a look at the key website redesign mistakes that can cause SEO disaster.
During the redesign of your website, it’s very likely that pages will have become unnecessary and need to be removed, which for most experienced designers and developers is an easy task. Unfortunately less experienced designers may simply delete the page or change the URL and deem the job as complete.
Unfortunately, there’s more to it than that! If a designer is removing a page that includes inbound links to them or pages that have ranked well, they need to keep these rankings, simply deleting the page means you’ll lose all the SEO value from the links, which could lead to a drop in rankings.
There’s even more to it, however, if a webpage you wish to remove has links to it or has been bookmarked by users who then click these links they’ll be redirected to a 404 page, which offers to value to anyone. Most users who stumble across a 404 page from a link will view this negatively, something Google will quickly figure out and use as a ranking factor.
In order to avoid this designers and developers need to redirect unnecessary pages to the most relevant page that still exists. It’s also important that pages that are being moved have the old URL redirected to a new one so as to not lose any relevant information.
When redesigning an existing website there are a lot of designers and developers out there who like to hide their development site from the outside world, whilst still making the existing website visible. This is a great way of doing things and well implemented correctly doesn’t usually cause many, if any, issues.
Search engines tend to follow any links and index any websites they come across on the way, even if they’re told they shouldn’t. Having two versions of one website, a development site and a live site can cause a problem with rankings of both the content and the links.
By creating a development site that uses a previously unused URL, this ensures that there are no links involved with it, which can avoid confusion. It’s also a good idea to disallow bots that use robots.txt, as well as setting up empty index pages so that other folders won’t be visible to bots.
After migration to the live server you need to do more than just make sure everything looks good, you need to double check that everything functions well too. It’s essential that you physically test everything including contact forms, ecommerce functions, tracking pixels, search console and analytics.
If there are any elements of your website that don’t work well or don’t work at all it can offer audiences a poor user experience, which is likely to drive them away from your website very quickly.
With audiences leaving your website quickly, it’s very possible that Google will start to deem your website as not valuable or relevant to users, which can impact your search engine rankings, as you get demoted down the search results.
It’s a known fact that SEO takes time, so why waste years of work because of a simple redesign? By following these simple tips and planning ahead, you can avoid the pitfalls involved in your website redesign and still keep your SEO performing well, helping you achieve the best results!