SEO-Smart Website Redesign: What To Do Before Launch

Trends and stylistic preferences come and go, and this is especially true with website design. Change isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either. The District Maven team often tells clients that websites are like computers because they require refreshing to ensure digital platforms continue to operate and appear as desired. One could have many reasons for giving their page a makeover; often, the site is old and lacks modern, mobile-friendly design or pays little attention to business conversion goals.

Regardless of the purpose or intent, website re-design projects can also be very stressful for business owners and marketing teams. Brands and businesses invest a lot of time and money in prioritizing SEO in addition to the visual look and feel of their website. Unfortunately, site migrations can pose a serious threat to these efforts.

Image
When done incorrectly, hasty website redesigns can result in significantly reduced visibility and rankings throughout the search engines, ultimately leading to a loss in revenue gained through online leads.

(It’s sad to say, but true: web designers can often be of little assistance in mitigating these issues. Despite having experience creating websites, many designers lack fundamental SEO knowledge and migration experience to account for problems that can arise upon launching something new.)

Don’t worry, though. Launching a brand new website shouldn’t detriment your marketing efforts and doesn’t have to be. Having a set plan for what should be done before, during, and before launch is hugely important to ensuring that SEO is protected and prioritized. Use the following as a guide to planning and executing your website re-design launch without all of the costly search engine optimization mistakes along the way.

Establish Goals

It may seem obvious, but the most important thing to do before beginning any website re-design is to establish your goals. No matter what improvements you are looking to make, you don’t want to sacrifice the search engine “equity” built over time. Precisely pinpointing what you’re looking to accomplish, as well as how SEO plays into each objective, is key to not only maintaining your current search engine standings but eventually improving your position as well.

Redefine Navigation & Content Architecture

The way your website is organized truly matters to both the human viewer and search engines alike. Nearly all of the websites District Maven is hired to re-design involve making sense of a currently chaotic navigation architecture and random, “orphan” pages. Use your newly established goals to help define what content matters to your bottom line and what doesn’t. Those changes should then be reflected in the overall content plan that is implemented.

Any changes to your sitemap can impact SEO, for better or worse. One of the primary purposes of re-designing a website (from a structural standpoint) is to ensure that your newly implemented navigation architecture is adequately organized. Whether you rearrange content or consolidate multiple pages into one, the final result should highlight what is essential and what is not.

In doing so, remember the following:

1. Search engines read from left to right and ultimately put the most significant value on what is read first. With that in mind, your navigation menu should feature the most critical, high-level pages first. (For example, your “services” are almost always more important than “about” pages.)

2. Subpages are great for building a solid foundation of content but should only be interlinked to relevant parent pages. Also, make sure that the canonical URL of each subpage follows the same structure. (i.e., https://yoursite.com/parent-page/subpage)

3. If you’re unsure what pages exist on your website, diving into your content management system (CMS) is the best place to start. Should you find yourself still struggling, tools such as DeepCrawl or Screaming Frog will help you identify what pages exist on your website.

Don't Forget On-Page Optimization

Implementing the exemplary navigation architecture is only half the battle. For the most part, search engines do not digest information the same way humans do. On-page optimization features (such as title tags, META descriptions, header tags, alt tags, etc.) are essential to any website. These indicators allow Google to thoroughly read and understand what a piece of content is trying to say.

Re-designing a website is a prime opportunity to reevaluate your on-page optimization from multiple aspects. In addition to looking at its overall effectiveness in targeting your desired search terms, you’ll also need to adjust your efforts, so it matches any updates you make in your navigation architecture as well. (District Maven regularly uses Google’s Keyword Planner Tool to research the best terms and phrases to use in on-page optimization features - it is informative and free!)

Always double-check to make sure that every page on your new website is correctly optimized and that title tags and META descriptions aren’t overly stuffed with keywords or sound “spammy.” This should be done before launch, not only so you don’t forget, but also so the search engines can start crawling and indexing your new information right away.

Internal Linking & Redirects

Physical domain structure and interwoven into one’s website are undoubtedly a commonly overlooked area in the website re-design process. Still, it can be detrimental to your SEO efforts. In the hustle and bustle of reorganizing landing pages and creating new content, many forget to account for differences in the canonical URL itself. This could cause links that worked on the previous website to display a 404 error page on the new one.

Neither human visitors nor search engines ever want to see a 404 error page on your website, if at all possible. Not only does it look unprofessional and detract from the overall user experience, the search engines no longer give any link equity to a page on your site that results in a 404 error.

To prevent this, one must implement the 301 redirects to tell your site to point users trying to go to a previous link to the new one. We admit that this process can be time-consuming, especially if you are redesigning a website with several interlinked pages. Nonetheless, it is imperative to preserve the highly coveted “link juice” that denotes your content as trustworthy and authoritative.

District Maven’s designers always start a running list of necessary redirects concurrently with reorganizing the navigation architecture when re-designing client websites. Remembering what pages are staying, deleted, or created can be difficult as the web development process drags on. Keeping track of what “old” URLs exist and where they should be pointed on the new website is a good way to ensure that no important content is neglected or missed.

After the refreshed website is completely mapped out, implement all necessary 301 redirects before launch. Sure, it is possible to add them after the new site goes live, but the damage will have already been done -- every second that 404 errors remain present on your website, its link value will continue to diminish. If you do miss one or two redirects post-launch, don’t stress out about it but make sure to rectify the problem as quickly as possible. Google Webmaster Tools and similar resources provide enormous value here, as they can ensure that you are promptly notified whenever any 404 errors are present.

Setup Or Sync Data Analysis Tools

The importance of data collection cannot be understated, especially when it comes to fine-tuning your SEO efforts. If your old website utilized tracking platforms, it is wise to sync your account with the new website before launch. Not only will this mark one more item off your to-do list, it will also prevent any lapse in data collection while launching your site.

If your website didn’t previously track its metrics and conversions, the time to start is now! Start by signing up with Google Analytics and add your website information to your account. You will be provided with a tracking ID and other codes that can be added to your website to sync the two. We also recommend signing up for an account with Google Webmaster Tools since it tracks related but different information than GA.

Be Prepared To Submit A New Sitemap

While this isn’t technically something you can do before launch, it is one of the first things that should be done after you do. A key factor in website SEO, sitemaps are a way of alerting the search engines that there is something new for them to crawl on your website -- namely, its new navigation architecture and freshly added content.

Be sure to double-check that your XML sitemap file(s) are perfect down to the last detail. Otherwise, you risk sending the search engines to crawl pages that result in 404 errors or are incorrectly formatted. (That’s why it’s so essential to implement all necessary 301 redirects before you launch, double-checking them as you go.)

Create Backups

Don’t forget to create a full backup of your files and database of both your old website and your new one right before launch. This ensures that you can, you can, should you run into any deployment issues or ever need to refer back to previous content for any reason.

Most hosting providers provide a “Backup and Restore” option that makes this process easy. (We highly recommend Flywheel, as not only do they have the ability to migrate sites and export old files easily and databases, their platform is super user-friendly, and their customer service is top-notch.)


Image

about us

For over a decade, District Maven has worked with businesses across the country to establish a formidable and profitable brand online. This is a responsibility that we take very seriously. Regardless of the industry or client, trust, respect and integrity are at the heart of every relationship we maintain -- and we wouldn't have it any other way.

Latest on instagram



Recent Projects


Request A Quote


Contact BasicsStep 1 of 3
Trends and stylistic preferences come and go, and this is especially true with website design. Change isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either. The District Maven team often tells clients that websites are like computers because they require refreshing to ensure digital platforms continue to operate and appear as desired. One could have many reasons for giving their page a makeover; often, the site is old and lacks modern, mobile-friendly design or pays little attention to business conversion goals.

Regardless of the purpose or intent, website re-design projects can also be very stressful for business owners and marketing teams. Brands and businesses invest a lot of time and money in prioritizing SEO in addition to the visual look and feel of their website. Unfortunately, site migrations can pose a serious threat to these efforts.

Image
When done incorrectly, hasty website redesigns can result in significantly reduced visibility and rankings throughout the search engines, ultimately leading to a loss in revenue gained through online leads.

(It’s sad to say, but true: web designers can often be of little assistance in mitigating these issues. Despite having experience creating websites, many designers lack fundamental SEO knowledge and migration experience to account for problems that can arise upon launching something new.)

Don’t worry, though. Launching a brand new website shouldn’t detriment your marketing efforts and doesn’t have to be. Having a set plan for what should be done before, during, and before launch is hugely important to ensuring that SEO is protected and prioritized. Use the following as a guide to planning and executing your website re-design launch without all of the costly search engine optimization mistakes along the way.

Establish Goals

It may seem obvious, but the most important thing to do before beginning any website re-design is to establish your goals. No matter what improvements you are looking to make, you don’t want to sacrifice the search engine “equity” built over time. Precisely pinpointing what you’re looking to accomplish, as well as how SEO plays into each objective, is key to not only maintaining your current search engine standings but eventually improving your position as well.

Redefine Navigation & Content Architecture

The way your website is organized truly matters to both the human viewer and search engines alike. Nearly all of the websites District Maven is hired to re-design involve making sense of a currently chaotic navigation architecture and random, “orphan” pages. Use your newly established goals to help define what content matters to your bottom line and what doesn’t. Those changes should then be reflected in the overall content plan that is implemented.

Any changes to your sitemap can impact SEO, for better or worse. One of the primary purposes of re-designing a website (from a structural standpoint) is to ensure that your newly implemented navigation architecture is adequately organized. Whether you rearrange content or consolidate multiple pages into one, the final result should highlight what is essential and what is not.

In doing so, remember the following:

1. Search engines read from left to right and ultimately put the most significant value on what is read first. With that in mind, your navigation menu should feature the most critical, high-level pages first. (For example, your “services” are almost always more important than “about” pages.)

2. Subpages are great for building a solid foundation of content but should only be interlinked to relevant parent pages. Also, make sure that the canonical URL of each subpage follows the same structure. (i.e., https://yoursite.com/parent-page/subpage)

3. If you’re unsure what pages exist on your website, diving into your content management system (CMS) is the best place to start. Should you find yourself still struggling, tools such as DeepCrawl or Screaming Frog will help you identify what pages exist on your website.

Don't Forget On-Page Optimization

Implementing the exemplary navigation architecture is only half the battle. For the most part, search engines do not digest information the same way humans do. On-page optimization features (such as title tags, META descriptions, header tags, alt tags, etc.) are essential to any website. These indicators allow Google to thoroughly read and understand what a piece of content is trying to say.

Re-designing a website is a prime opportunity to reevaluate your on-page optimization from multiple aspects. In addition to looking at its overall effectiveness in targeting your desired search terms, you’ll also need to adjust your efforts, so it matches any updates you make in your navigation architecture as well. (District Maven regularly uses Google’s Keyword Planner Tool to research the best terms and phrases to use in on-page optimization features - it is informative and free!)

Always double-check to make sure that every page on your new website is correctly optimized and that title tags and META descriptions aren’t overly stuffed with keywords or sound “spammy.” This should be done before launch, not only so you don’t forget, but also so the search engines can start crawling and indexing your new information right away.

Internal Linking & Redirects

Physical domain structure and interwoven into one’s website are undoubtedly a commonly overlooked area in the website re-design process. Still, it can be detrimental to your SEO efforts. In the hustle and bustle of reorganizing landing pages and creating new content, many forget to account for differences in the canonical URL itself. This could cause links that worked on the previous website to display a 404 error page on the new one.

Neither human visitors nor search engines ever want to see a 404 error page on your website, if at all possible. Not only does it look unprofessional and detract from the overall user experience, the search engines no longer give any link equity to a page on your site that results in a 404 error.

To prevent this, one must implement the 301 redirects to tell your site to point users trying to go to a previous link to the new one. We admit that this process can be time-consuming, especially if you are redesigning a website with several interlinked pages. Nonetheless, it is imperative to preserve the highly coveted “link juice” that denotes your content as trustworthy and authoritative.

District Maven’s designers always start a running list of necessary redirects concurrently with reorganizing the navigation architecture when re-designing client websites. Remembering what pages are staying, deleted, or created can be difficult as the web development process drags on. Keeping track of what “old” URLs exist and where they should be pointed on the new website is a good way to ensure that no important content is neglected or missed.

After the refreshed website is completely mapped out, implement all necessary 301 redirects before launch. Sure, it is possible to add them after the new site goes live, but the damage will have already been done -- every second that 404 errors remain present on your website, its link value will continue to diminish. If you do miss one or two redirects post-launch, don’t stress out about it but make sure to rectify the problem as quickly as possible. Google Webmaster Tools and similar resources provide enormous value here, as they can ensure that you are promptly notified whenever any 404 errors are present.

Setup Or Sync Data Analysis Tools

The importance of data collection cannot be understated, especially when it comes to fine-tuning your SEO efforts. If your old website utilized tracking platforms, it is wise to sync your account with the new website before launch. Not only will this mark one more item off your to-do list, it will also prevent any lapse in data collection while launching your site.

If your website didn’t previously track its metrics and conversions, the time to start is now! Start by signing up with Google Analytics and add your website information to your account. You will be provided with a tracking ID and other codes that can be added to your website to sync the two. We also recommend signing up for an account with Google Webmaster Tools since it tracks related but different information than GA.

Be Prepared To Submit A New Sitemap

While this isn’t technically something you can do before launch, it is one of the first things that should be done after you do. A key factor in website SEO, sitemaps are a way of alerting the search engines that there is something new for them to crawl on your website -- namely, its new navigation architecture and freshly added content.

Be sure to double-check that your XML sitemap file(s) are perfect down to the last detail. Otherwise, you risk sending the search engines to crawl pages that result in 404 errors or are incorrectly formatted. (That’s why it’s so essential to implement all necessary 301 redirects before you launch, double-checking them as you go.)

Create Backups

Don’t forget to create a full backup of your files and database of both your old website and your new one right before launch. This ensures that you can, you can, should you run into any deployment issues or ever need to refer back to previous content for any reason.

Most hosting providers provide a “Backup and Restore” option that makes this process easy. (We highly recommend Flywheel, as not only do they have the ability to migrate sites and export old files easily and databases, their platform is super user-friendly, and their customer service is top-notch.)


Image

about us

For over a decade, District Maven has worked with businesses across the country to establish a formidable and profitable brand online. This is a responsibility that we take very seriously. Regardless of the industry or client, trust, respect and integrity are at the heart of every relationship we maintain -- and we wouldn't have it any other way.

Latest on instagram



Recent Projects


Request A Quote


Contact BasicsStep 1 of 3