SEO and Redesign
People decide to redesign their websites for many reasons. For the most part these are cosmetic upgrades or fixes with SEO in mind. When redesigning your website it is important to implement both. For instance you have started getting a little love from Google in terms of “organic traffic”. You think this would be an excellent time to give your website a design overhaul. Now a days some of these changes can be done very quickly and just like that you have a brand new updated looking platform for your visitors. The biggest problem with doing these quick fixes your SEO efforts don’t always carry over. Some of these changes might require manual tweaks. When considering SEO during your redesign how do you know what is good to take out and keep?
The best way to approach redesigning while tweaking your SEO is keeping it simple. I’ll be going over suggestion and other things to consider when deciding what to leave in and take out of your blog or website. Let’s get started:
301 Redirect Backlinks
Setting up 301 redirects is extremely important because this will transfer PageRank. Having said that you will only need to concentrate on this step if the urls on your website are going to change with the redesign. 301 redirects tell Google about a permanent url move. By doing this Google will be able to properly index your pages from here on out.
For all WordPress site owners the best way to handle this is with WordPress SEO by Yoast. If you don’t have this plugin you can download it free by doing a quick search under your plugins section on your WordPress interface. I should also mention if you don’t have this plugin you really should. It will greatly benefit your SEO efforts and in most cases point you in the right direction and make sure Google has all the indexing information it needs. I could right a lot of posts going into further detail but you get the point WordPress SEO by Yoast Plugin = Good.
Once you have downloaded WordPress SEO you will need to make sure it is activated and click “edit files”. It’s pretty straight forward from there but you can find out more information by going to Yoast Support.
Check Your Inbound Links
You definitely don’t want to lose your inbound links or have broken links do to the redesign. Inbound links are links from other sites that take visitors to your site. If you did a guest blog post and decided to add a link from that post to another post on your blog you created an inbound link. The reason 301 redirects are so important is they take care of these kind of concerns but I would always make sure by manually checking these links. To check your current inbound links go to Moz Open Site Explorer.
Index Your Site
Google sends out bots to crawl websites and find new content, update old, etc. This is why the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin is so great. It creates a sitemap for you that will help Google find and index your pages. If your site is indexed it means that it has been listed on a search engine. Being that Google is the most popular and widely used search engine being “indexed” by them is a must to get found.
Sitemaps in general also help with letting Google know your website’s structure. While redesigning your website the 301 redirection step should reflect on the sitemap. This will make sure Google has all the information it needs to make sure your site is re-indexed properly. A good rule of thumb is to never assume anything is “taken care of”. Always double check to make sure things are done right.
Let Google Know
This is similar to when you move to a new house. Just like you tell the post office you need to let Google know of the changes you have made. A “heads up” gets things rolling faster and is another way to make sure things get done right in the first place. Google Webmaster Tools has a section where you can do this. The tool is called Change of Address. You can find it by clicking on the gear icon.
If you follow these tips when redesigning your website with SEO in mind you’ll avoid several problems down the line. You’ll successfully be able to change your websites look/feel, seo, and more without losing your hard work. If you have important relative content that help people Google wants you to be found. Just make sure you keep them in the loop on major site upgrades and changes.