15.5 C
New York
Sunday, September 24, 2023

Learn how to redesign your website with out dropping your Google rankings

Relaunching or redesigning an internet site could make or break your Search engine optimization efforts. 

Even a single mistake can lead to catastrophic rating drops – or, worst, income loss. 

Right here’s learn how to deal with a website redesign with out risking your natural visitors, rankings and income.

Why a redesign is an inherent danger

Companies mustn’t ever take an internet site change flippantly. 

Apart from the Search engine optimization ramifications, customers don’t all the time welcome an internet site overhaul. (Consider Fb’s newest redesign and most entrepreneurs’ disdain of GA4).  

Quite a few Search engine optimization horror tales revolve round disastrous website redesigns, re-platforms and relaunches.

Coping with the aftermath could be a nightmare for Search engine optimization groups and the exterior Search engine optimization guide (who typically solely will get referred to as to repair others’ errors).

Most website redesign fails contain the next:

  • Noindexing the web site.
  • No redirects in place.
  • Including/eradicating content material. 


Sometimes, redesigned web sites are ready on a separate server the place a duplicate of the dwell web site is examined with the brand new appear and feel. 

To keep away from creating duplicate content material points with Google, it’s a must to add the noindex meta tag to the check server (or block it in robots.txt):

<meta title="robots" content material="noindex, nofollow" />

This tells the search engine to disregard this website model.

But, all too typically, no person remembers to take away the noindex command earlier than relaunching the web site. 

It’d take weeks, together with misplaced leads, gross sales and income, earlier than somebody notices.

So earlier than going dwell, make sure that to take away that noindex meta tag.

No redirects

When shifting an internet site to a brand new area or altering your URL construction, you should “inform” Google and guests the place to seek out the brand new one. 

Except the enterprise has an in-house Search engine optimization, redirection is usually uncared for. 

Search engine bots and customers may find yourself on error pages or get redirected to the homepage, leading to poor consumer expertise and missed Search engine optimization alternatives.

Failure to redirect present sources to new ones will negatively have an effect on your rankings, visitors and conversions. 

For one, since incoming hyperlinks to your content material find yourself nowhere, you may lose that rating push on Google. 

Google handles error pages as in case your website is damaged and should demote it utterly.

All 4xx errors (besides 429) are handled the identical. Googlebot indicators the indexing pipeline that the content material doesn’t exist. 

Learn how to repair it? Use a everlasting redirect (301).

Content material removing/addition

Designers typically work with a “lorem ipsum” placeholder textual content even when the web site has present content material.

Solely when the redesigned web site goes dwell will they notice that enormous components of the content material don’t work with the brand new design. And as a substitute of fixing the design, the content material may get deleted.

In some circumstances, enterprise house owners simply wish to take away outdated content material for no obvious cause apart from that it’s “outdated” they usually don’t wish to replace it. 

As ex-Googler Kaspar Szymanski famous in his Search engine optimization horror tales instance

“When content material migration is completed, Google has to recrawl new URLs, together with all of their accompanying indicators, comparable to backlinks and canonicals, with the intention to rank what successfully turns into model new touchdown pages. Underneath any circumstances, a migration is finest ready months prematurely, fastidiously deliberate and executed throughout a gross sales off-season.”

There are additionally situations when SEOs prune underperforming content material after which go overboard. 

Your present content material may need attracted hyperlinks through the years. When the content material will get deleted, that hyperlink fairness you’ve constructed up will go away. 

Furthermore, Google tends to evaluate web sites as a complete, not simply primarily based on specific content material or pages. As soon as your website shrinks in a single day, chances are you’ll lose credibility related to your former dimension and standing.

The identical applies to the alternative. You’ll be able to’t simply develop from 100 to 100,000 pages in a single day with out inflicting Google bother. 

Don’t deflate or inflate your web page quantity drastically in a short while body.

Learn how to repair it? Deal with present content material as precious linkable property and migrate them to the brand new web site model. Use just one net tackle per content material piece or add canonical tags.

Doing it like Amazon

Given the dangers, you possibly can go for the sluggish and secure route like Amazon. The ecommerce powerhouse is thought to make incremental modifications to its platform.

Some websites redesign and relaunch often, whereas others seemingly wish to keep the identical.

Amazon is a “prime” instance (pun meant) of a website getting constantly improved over time as a substitute of being recreated abruptly. 

The present Amazon web site design has been used since 2015 and not using a redesign. Even the design modifications earlier than that weren’t full redesigns both.

This gradual change strategy has professionals and cons. 

Common Amazon consumers don’t need to battle to be taught a brand new interface. However the platform can be plagued with rising muddle and have creep. 

Chances are you’ll be doing one thing proper when your income continues to develop regardless of such a nasty consumer expertise. In any other case, a redesign might be overdue.

When to revamp your website?

Regardless of all of the dangers talked about above, there are some legitimate causes for a website relaunch.


When your online business or web site has been acquired, you will have numerous choices for coping with the “outdated ” web site:

  • Some new house owners let the present website rot.
  • Some redirect it to the brand new proprietor’s web site.
  • Others merely change the emblem by including “by [new owner].” 

These critical a couple of web site and its viewers often redesign and relaunch, typically below a brand new title. 

Change of enterprise mannequin

Startups change enterprise fashions continuously. At occasions, the pivot is so massive that the previous enterprise mannequin has nothing to do with the brand new one anymore.

Let’s say your startup used to supply a device after which turned an company providing companies. In that case, your earlier web site construction might now not make sense.

Muddle and have creep

Muddle and characteristic creep typically go hand in hand however may also occur independently. 

Older web sites accumulate objects, choices, content material and hyperlinks.

With a longtime design and system, eradicating objects which have grown organically is tough.

Even long-time customers will battle with cognitive overload.

Your website could also be ripe for a redesign when:

  • The bounce charge and exit charge develop over time.
  • It will get tougher to retain new customers, resulting in a drop in recurring guests.

Personally, I believe Amazon’s design strategy is hard to make use of. It’s stuffed with muddle, characteristic creep and adverts somewhere else that aren’t even correctly disclosed.

If Amazon wasn’t a type of “too massive to fail” firms, their web site would most likely be defunct by now.


You may additionally want a redesign or a minimum of a design replace to serve new markets (i.e., extra international locations), launch totally different merchandise, or serve new audiences. 

A redesign is just not all the time wanted in such circumstances. It will depend on how simply an internet site will be tailored to the growth.

  • So as a substitute of simply serving the U.S. or UK, you wish to serve a worldwide viewers or different languages? 
  • After promoting footwear, do you wish to enter the style market and even promote home goods?
  • As a substitute of a distinct segment viewers of lovers, do you wish to attain a mainstream viewers?

These giant modifications might require a full-fledged redesign or a minimum of profit from one as a substitute of compacting the brand new goals into the restricted present design.

Unsupported applied sciences

Is your website constructed with Flash? That was by no means a good suggestion, particularly now that Adobe has discontinued and most browsers stopped supporting it. 

The identical applies to utilizing much less in style out of date applied sciences like Java (to not be confused with JavaScript) or frames.

In case your website nonetheless depends closely on these, you should do one thing about them instantly. An entire redesign could be the solely viable resolution then. 

Some much less apparent legacy expertise inside your web site code might not be supported by main browsers anymore (Google’s Chrome and its derivatives primarily by now). 

I needed to repair my web site through the years a couple of occasions, not as a result of it was damaged, however as a consequence of altering necessities by browser distributors and evolving applied sciences that weren’t backward suitable.

As soon as, my web site broke as a result of the newest PHP model deprecated some built-in features and interpreted others otherwise.

A legacy web site with hundreds of traces of customized code might make restoring performance after third-party expertise modifications very tough.

Typically a redesign from scratch could also be cheaper in the long term.

Earlier than the rest, name the Search engine optimization 

OK, so that you determined {that a} redesign is the one strategy to go? For goodness’ sake, name an  Search engine optimization skilled proper now! 

The sooner you contain the Search engine optimization (crew), the higher. 

Usually, companies begin the design with the designers, because the title conveniently suggests. However the Search engine optimization-compliant info structure (IA) have to be deliberate earlier than the design. 

Should you don’t have a complicated info architect in your crew, it’s a must to ask the Search engine optimization individual about it.

And even when your UX specialist has a strong understanding of IA, don’t depend on that. 

After all, the consumer expertise is its personal complicated self-discipline that requires mastery, so you possibly can’t anticipate the identical individual additionally to be an skilled on Search engine optimization.

Get the each day e-newsletter search entrepreneurs depend on.

Learn how to redesign with out hurting the Search engine optimization

Rent an Search engine optimization! Allow them to inform all concerned groups. Listed below are further suggestions for an Search engine optimization-friendly web site redesign challenge.

Agree on precise objectives

To implement a correct redesign, it’s a must to agree internally on its objectives.

The Search engine optimization crew can present a few of them, however there must be general enterprise objectives as nicely.

The redesign isn’t just a beauty change. It must be validated utilizing metrics that transcend vainness. Rising visitors or engagement is just not sufficient.

How will a redesign impression conversions, gross sales and ROI?

Select extremely related KPIs earlier than you begin to decide whether or not your objectives have been met.

For instance, as a substitute of including annoying pop-ups and overlays to your legacy design, you may redesign with the first objective of getting built-in subscription varieties to develop your e-newsletter viewers. Every subscription can be a conversion, then.

Construct the brand new website individually

Use a minimum of one native server to code and check. Giant web site redesigns have three of them: 

  • A growth server.
  • A check server. 
  • A dwell server.

Ideally, you test your website redesign as an internet site operating past your native community. 

Whereas at it, use the aforementioned noindex tag on the brand new website so long as it isn’t formally dwell but.

For small WordPress-based websites, chances are you’ll get tempted to work on the dwell website and introduce the brand new theme out of the blue.

Do not belief ready-made themes or the design and growth crew to care in your Search engine optimization, not even the fundamentals!

It could be a stunning expertise to test your analytics quickly after. Some themes (and designs) ignore the Search engine optimization fundamentals, or they randomly rewrite them.

So you could have optimized your good title tag construction and streamlined your headlines, after which they’re gone in a single day, and neither designers nor UX specialists seen.

The headlines might look precisely the identical, however behind the scenes, there will probably be a div, span or p-tag as a substitute of the H1, H2, and so forth.

Your title tag might present the model first or, worse, solely lorem ipsum and be repeated far and wide, creating duplicate content material Google will robotically demote or take away from the index.

All of your arduously created meta tags, schema code, nofollow/sponsored/UGC attributes, picture alt attributes and minimized scripts could also be utterly gone. So create a guidelines of must-have Search engine optimization options upfront.

Do not combine up design and code

Ideally, you separate code, conduct and design. Your outdated website doesn’t do this but? Introduce this separation on the brand new website. 

You’ll be glad. There’ll most likely be quite a few modifications down the street earlier than you even go dwell.

Modifying the HTML code to enter design tweaks is tedious and error-prone. It is also completely impractical in the long term. Additionally, it’s more likely to damage your Search engine optimization efforts. 

Content material must be separate anyway, often in a database. Or when you have a small legacy web site, utilizing XML or textual content recordsdata like .txt, .csv or .inc.

Use no matter works finest for you. Simply do not combine every part.

Legacy web sites from the ‘90s had all of these items in a single file in lots of circumstances, so it was nearly not possible to alter with out breaking issues that weren’t even associated to the change.

But even trendy WordPress web sites battle with mixing code, design and content material. 

Some themes require tweaks or UX textual content added to the themes themselves in order that you find yourself with English phrases like “remark,” “search” or “subsequent” in your translated web site model. 

By no means contact a operating system, particularly URLs

Geeks with many years of expertise will advise you to “by no means contact a operating system” for a cause. 

This motto additionally applies to search engine marketing. A minor change can wreck your web site’s Search engine optimization.

Is your area already rating nicely? Do you actually need to rename it from x to x-y? Each area title change is a large danger. 

You by no means know whether or not Google will settle for your new area as absolutely equal to the final one. 

Within the worst case, the algorithm might assume that your web site is totally new and put you into the dreaded “sandbox” for brand spanking new domains. 

Some folks say there isn’t a such filter, however seasoned SEOs know from their expertise how lengthy it typically takes to get a brand new area off the bottom. So that you wish to maintain your present authority.

When registering a brand new area, please don’t put it on-line with out content material authority or whereas the outdated one remains to be reachable.

In any other case, the danger of being seen as a totally separate challenge is far larger.

Having two domains for a similar challenge directly can be a mistake. You compete in opposition to your self. You need to go “all in” on certainly one of them!

At the least attempt to not change the URL construction. The design can change and enhance with out having to alter that normally. 

So until the IA modifications considerably, you possibly can merely add or subtract directories and pages to or from the present construction.

Is there no various to altering your URLs as a result of the brand new construction must be totally different for some legitimate causes? 

Then redirect the outdated URLs to the brand new ones by mapping each single or a minimum of essential web page upfront or just by altering the URL construction solely barely after which robotically redirecting each URL in .htaccess file utilizing the asterisk “*“:

instance.com/website/content material/article

…might be then redirected to…

instance.com/new-site/content material/article

As a substitute of a “new-site” you may add one thing extra significant or impartial. Internet designers typically simply added a v2 or no matter quantity utilized as a workaround.

instance.com/v2/content material/article

In actuality, this might be one thing extra particular decrease on the construction stage.

When you will have pivoted the enterprise mannequin, you may maintain the companies web page and add particular pages beneath it.


will probably be… 


Lorem ipsum your self! Or do not forget content material design

When looking for a brand new WordPress theme, you’ll first take a look at the design and fall in love with it, solely to comprehend that when your content material has been displayed utilizing the brand new one, it appears to be like terrible. 

What occurred? Lack of content material design

The design has been created in a vacuum with idealized content material to suit and underscore the “magnificence” of the brand new design.

Use the precise content material from the present website from day one or create content material that will probably be displayed on the brand new website upfront. Solely then must you create the design across the content material.

When pruning content material, do a content material audit first and assess every web page. Preserve the pages that rank already and have garnered some backlinks up to now.

Pages that get visitors, be it search visitors, referral, or direct visitors, also needs to be stored for apparent causes.

Some content material could seem ineffective primarily based on the standards above, however it’s wanted to finish an internet site, even when it is not often visited. So do not assume that obscure content material has no worth, both.

Guarantee crawling and indexing

Why is a very powerful technical Search engine optimization half on the finish? 

When you go dwell along with your new website, it’s a must to test whether or not the Search engine optimization finest practices you will have taken into consideration earlier are making it into the Google index and whether or not you retain your rankings.

  • Watch your analytics and Google Search Console studies continuously to find potential roadblocks (suppose noindex above).
  • Double-check your robotically created sitemaps and use an internet site crawler like Screaming Frog to check URLs as soon as once more on the dwell server.
  • You may additionally wish to test the server log recordsdata. Why? Orphan pages and pages that have not been listed for some cause might not even present up elsewhere.

Typically even the Analytics code doesn’t seem on all pages, so some pages haven’t any visitors as a result of it is invisible. 

Opinions expressed on this article are these of the visitor creator and never essentially Search Engine Land. Employees authors are listed right here.

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest Articles