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Pre-launch covers the large period of time leading up to the actual live launch of your new site. If you fail to plan out this prep work, you are planning to fail your SEO once you launch.
Relaunching a website is an inevitable part of the online game. Unfortunately, even the best redesign can result in massive traffic SEO traffic lapses. It is normal for sites to lose around 30% of traffic as Google re-crawls pages and it can take around 3 months to regain this. However, if done poorly, we have seen permanent drops in traffic, which is why we created this guide. Here’s a checklist of other items that are often neglected during a site launch, but can have a long-term affect on SEO and tracking.
Relaunching a website involves a lot of content review and writing. Content written years or even a decade ago may not match the current language tone of the day. By using the Inclusivity Crawler (developed by Whole Whale), an organization can check a page or an entire site for language that may be offensive or noninclusive.
Inclusive Content Check.
Change your view so you can see what pages these keywords map to you. You want to make sure to preserve the top-performing pages on the new website. For example, if all of your organic search traffic comes from blog posts, then you’ll want to ensure the new site has a blog and that you migrate your old blog content to the new site. Alternatively, if you have strong traffic to services pages, then you’ll want to make sure you have a page for each of these services on the new site.
5. Start tracking your keyword performance. Now that you have a list of the keywords that are important to you, start tracking your rankings. SEO software such as Pathfinder SEO allows you to track your keyword performance over time. We want to start tracking this data now so we have a before and after picture. Learn more about rank tracking.
These are just a few of the questions our coaches answer frequently about SEO for a website redesign. In this post, we’ll cover the steps needed to position a newly designed site to perform better than an old site in search engines.
Log into the Google Search Console and navigate to the performance section. Look through the list of top-performing keywords. Make notes or export the list.
Google Search Console is an SEO-specific platform. It helps you understand what keywords are driving traffic to your current website and what pages are most important. It also is a communication channel with the search engine as it provides you feedback on how your site is being crawled and indexed. Here’s how to get started with the Google Search Console.
SEO Checklist for a Website Redesign.
2. Analyze your current organic search traffic. Now that you have Google Search Console set up, it’s time to understand the keywords that drive traffic to your site and what pages or posts they correspond with.
Keyword research can be overwhelming. If you aren’t already familiar with it, follow the step-by-step process at Pathfinder SEO. We break keyword research into small lessons with actionable assignments. Learn more here.
1. Set up Google Analytics and the Google Search Console. Before you invest in a new website, it’s important to collect baseline data about your existing website performance. The two best portals for this are Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Both are free tools from Google.
6. Plan your URL structure. Once you have a site map, you can start thinking about URL structure. You want to ensure your URLs are concise and keyword-friendly. This is an art and a science. Use a spreadsheet to organize your work. Think about nesting similar content into sub-folders to give your website structure.
When should I start thinking about SEO for a new site? Will I lose my rankings on Google when I redesign my website? What are 301 redirects?
3. Crawl the live site with Screaming Frog. We want to create a list of all of the pages on your existing website along with pertinent information such as the title tags and meta descriptions. The easiest way to do this is with a tool called Screaming Frog. The free version is sufficient for most websites. Download the tool, scan your website, and export the HTML information. Store this for future use.
4. Dial in your keyword research. We started thinking about keywords in step 2, but now it’s time to expand on it. The goal is to have clarity around what keywords you will incorporate into your copy.
The information you gain in the Google Search Console will inform the site map for the new site.
Google Analytics provides you with general website performance statistics such as how many sessions your website receives, what traffic sources are responsible for, and how each page on the site performs. Here’s how to get started with Google Analytics.
WHAT TO DO NOW.
The action items are broken into four sections based on when the tasks are best accomplished. Timing is everything when it comes to SEO and a website redesign.
For example, perhaps all of your blog posts live in /blog/, all of your services pages in /services/, and all products are in /products/. Define the URLs for all of the pages on your website. For frequently updated content such as blog posts, you can follow a standard permalink format like /blog/post-title.