With continuous industry updates and technological advancement there is a need to redesign everything be it a strategy, a policy, or a website. Website is the online representation of any business and so it cannot be left unattended either. Old designed website doesn’t appeal much to people as well as have outdated functionalities, which most users don’t like. Beside this, there are updates that need to be published on website and various other functionalities can be integrated so that it becomes more user-friendly.
But redesigning a website, either to give it a fresh look or to change the backend CMS, is a challenging as well as a daunting task especially when its SEO is going on from a long time. Website redesign can freak out any SEO expert as there are many complexities involved in it and, if SEO considerations are not followed in the website revamp process, whole of the SEO efforts which were put in the past will take a setback. The ranking in the SERP and website traffic will be badly affected and it will ultimately hit out at the revenue, which no business would risk.
So, it is crucial that SEO checklist is given the priority when a website is redesigned. SEO checklist will blend content planning and execution with technical aspects, like code and schema. So here is a checklist for a successful website redesign:
Pre Launch Checklist:
Once the new theme or CMS for a website is decided there are major things that must be done so that Google doesn’t impact the ranking and traffic of the new website.
Set the development website: Set it to noindex, nofollow and disallow in robots.txt file so that search engine doesn’t crawl it and consider it a duplicity issue of the content and other variables. In this regard, you can password protect the dev/staging site for better case scenario.
Validate search engine friendly URLs: Make sure if there are new URLs created during the redesign process, run an analysis which will accommodate new pages in the existing website.
Make sure other redesign variables are in place: Use 301 redirects for pages that are driving the most traffic to website. If the website has new architecture than make sure main internal pages don’t lose link juice when footers & other key links are removed from the home page.
Plan the content: Content is regarded as “King” when it comes to search engine’s ranking algorithm. Original content – which is compelling and provide relevant information – is free from any sort of plagiarism – is what search engines consider fit, for ranking. Write updated content with all the relative keywords that were previously targeted in the SEO process. Proofread the content for errors and grammar mistakes. Make sure the content for Meta title, keywords and description is reviewed. Check the landing pages with regards to content and SEO.
Review Analytics: Make sure to setup the analytics well before relaunch of the website. This is important as this will make sure that the flow from the old website to the new website remains flawless. Use the analytics code on every page as it will help in seamless transition of metrics tracking between the old and new website. Use Adobe tag manager to add and update website tags.
Check page speed and conduct mobile friendliness test: Make sure the website’s PageSpeed is as per the standards, as a slow PageSpeed denotes bad functionality of the website. Conduct mobile friendliness test of the website and check whether it looks good in mobile with all the functions working correctly or not.
Once the website is checked for all the pre-launch SEO checklist and is ready to launch, there are many variables that must be considered during the launch. Let’s have a look at some of them:
Are all pages properly redirecting and is 301 redirect working fine?
Check if all passwords/noindex, nofollow and robots.txt disallow directives are removed?
Check if the change of address in Webmaster Tools for a domain switch is performed?
Make sure a proper outline structure is present for search engines and human visitors by reviewing the header usage.
Validate the website to W3C standards.
Make sure all Meta Titles, Keywords, Description, H1 tags, Image Alt tags are correct and unique.
Is Adobe Analytics working fine and installed properly?
Check for schema and structured data of the website and validate them.
Make sure the code-to-text ratio, on live pages, is as per the standards.
Check for all the links on home page and inner page and make sure they are clickable and redirects to the related page.
Make sure the drop-down variables are crawlable.
Optimize images and videos so that the load time of website remains above the average.
Create new sitemaps and submit them.
Post Launch Checklist:
If the pre-launch audit has been done with utmost care then there is very little post launch work to do. Some of the things to check are:
Run broken link check to find if there are any dead links.
If the website is witnessing low traffic and low sales then check 301 redirects.
Check for number of pages indexed.
Check for PageRank, Page Authority, and Domain Authority and see if there are some changes because everything should remain constant throughout.
Check Google Webmaster Tool Errors.
Check analytics data.
Make sure you strictly follow the SEO checklist when the website is undergoing the redesign phase as overlooking all these aspects can result in disaster for the SEO efforts made to promote the website earlier.
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