A site redesign could ruin all your SEO efforts in an instant. Digital marketers put so much time and effort into SEO, it would be a shame to throw it away overnight. But if you’re not careful, then a site redesign poses some serious threats that could end up causing that to happen. Usually, a site redesign is taking place for a reason and will be beneficial in the long run, but how can you make sure you don’t kill your SEO in the process?
You’re already familiar with what a search engine does – you type something into Google, and it brings you what are hopefully the most relevant results for your query. A search engine pretty much combs through the billions of pages out there, weeding out the irrelevant and unimportant results.
It only makes sense that a site redesign could throw off search engines. Here are some of the most common factors that can negatively affect organic traffic following a site redesign:
• Changes in the URL structure: URLs in your existing site have built up credibility with search engines, and with other people. So with the rollout of a new site, you might end up losing some organic traffic. The other thing to watch out for is incoming links, which will still be pointing to your old URLs. You can reach out to the webmasters of the linking sites, but if you have any significant number of inbound links, setting up redirects will probably be easier in the long run.
• Navigation changes: It’s great if you’ve improved your navigation to make it more intuitive for users – it’ll hopefully even improve conversions for your site. Just keep in mind that your site’s organic search performance will probably take a hit. Changes in anchor labels used can impact keyword signals that are sent to search engines, and changes in navigation links on your site will impact the flow of so-called “link juice.” Even a change in the way your products are categorized will impact organic search performance.
• Content: A lot of newer sites are really heavy on the media content, whether in the form of pictures, videos, or other visuals. This can look great from a design standpoint, and there are some exciting new ways for customers to interact with such content (think shoppable images). But, this does pose the risk of giving search engines less text content to crawl.
• Tagging: This is pretty basic, but with so much to think about during a site redesign and migration, sometimes the little SEO details get missed. We’re talking about basic code tags such as page titles, meta descriptions, image alt tags, H1 tags, etc. Maybe these were all in place on your old site pages, but you forgot to transfer them over with the new site. These are also easy to overlook if your new site has a completely new structure with different and new pages.