You’ve Achieved a Good Position in Google Search? Don’t Let Site Redesign Ruin Your SEO
Redesigning a website can ruin your SEO and decrease your position on Google search if you don’t do it right. It’s important to pay attention to the situation before and after the redesign, i.e. to monitor and analyze results. If the visit starts to decline after the redesign, it means that the redesign isn’t working and hasn’t done the job because of which it was performed, or simply something isn’t working properly after that.
Before and During the Redesign
Save everything that can benefit you later. These include files (images, documents, and texts), databases (MySQL website databases, newsletter databases, and phone number databases), and everything without which your business can’t work properly.
Here’s what usually needs to be done.
Before You Start Redesigning – Backup Everything
Backup is the basic and simplest action that can solve any problem when a website reaches a breaking point. Although the backup is the easiest thing to do, many people forget it or think that they don’t even need it.
Before you start redesigning your website, make a backup of the website files and the database it uses. Most hosting services make weekly account backups, so in the end, count on this option as well.
During the redesign, it’s recommended to make daily backups, so if, for example, you mess up something on the sixth day, you can always return to the backup from the fifth day when everything worked properly.
Copy All the Page Addresses You’ll Need Later
If you don’t plan to change the page addresses (and posts) when creating a new website, then you don’t have to write this down. However, if the existing website gets a new address (link), you’ll also need to redirect the old addresses to the new ones.
For example, the old page had the address your-site.com/p4345363 and this was the contact page as well, but on the new website you decided to make it a little more meaningful so you put the address of the contact page to be your-site.com/contact-flowers-sales. Here you’ll need to place a 301 redirection from your-site.com/p4345363 to your-site.com/contact-flowers-sales.
That way, Google, which has the old address indexed and hasn’t indexed the new one yet, will automatically forward posts on social networks, that lead to the old address, to people at the new address even though they still have the old page address written in their browser bookmarks. Also, if you delete a page, redirect that address to a related page or contact.
Pay Attention to Google Indexing of the Site That’s Just Being Created
Someone is creating a new website with a new design in a subdirectory of the existing one, so it looks like old-site.com/new-site, while someone else is doing it in a subdomain so it looks like this: new-site.old-site.com. Again, you have some that even lease a new domain just for programming purposes, for example, testing-here.com and create a new website there. Altogether, when they make a new website, they replace the old version of the website with a new, final version.
Whatever you do, turn off the ability for Google to index the version of the website that’s under construction. Otherwise, you can cause a “commotion” in SEO results, duplicate content, and cause problems in general.
Here, care should also be taken because a new website with a new design should complete the work done by the old website, even to be better than the old one.
An important thing needs to be considered after completing the website redesign and it doesn’t apply to technicalities about which we’ll write in the continuation of the article.
Now, we stress the importance of quality hosting to support your improved website. You can either upgrade the current hosting plan or migrate your website to some other host. That’s because rates and feature sets of the hosting companies are constantly changing. Hosts are bought and sold, changing the desirable website niches all the time. So, you need to find a host that best suits your needs.
As we already mentioned at the beginning of the text, saving MySQL website databases is one of the steps to do before redesigning your website. Saving MySQL databases mean that you can choose MySQL hosting for your online presence. These plans compete vigorously with one another to offer the best features and pricing. And, as a website owner, you can’t afford to helplessly watch your website outgrowing its current hosting environment. Free migration and after-move support are what you need and which you’ll get by leasing MySQL hosting providers.
Change the Address Paths in the New Site Scripts
You’ve created a website on your computer locally or on another domain (subdomain, subdirectory, etc.). Such a website has that address entered in its scripts (and database). For example, a website that’s created on a computer has the address http://localhost, and a website that you created in a subdirectory of a domain has the address of that subdirectory.
In order for such a website to work where it should and also work properly when the time comes for it to become active, you need to change all the addresses in the website scripts and database from the address where the new website was created to the address where the website will work. If you use WordPress, you can see the official instructions for changing the address on its website.
Check the Correctness of All Plugins and Complete Functionality
After setting up a new website and releasing it live, you need to check if everything works. This checkup includes plugins, more precisely: whether they work and whether something needs to be changed regarding the address (link, if entered manually in the plugin settings), check the functionality of the theme used by the website, as well as the correctness of contact forms, menus, and whether links open the correct pages from the website or not.
If you use the newsletter plugin, make sure that by entering your email address you also sign up. Then, test whether it works by unsubscribing or not, and test whether it works by sending news emails to your test e-mail or not.
In addition to making the website new, nicer, and more modern than the previous one, it’s extremely important that everything works just fine. If your business is such that people often contact you via the contact form, they won’t be very happy if they see the message “Something went wrong, please try again later” when sending an email.
Allow Search Engines to See Your New Site
If you were running a new website in WordPress, you probably turned on the “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” option so that search engines wouldn’t see the new website while it’s under construction. Now that that new website is live for the public, don’t forget to uncheck this option so that search engines can see your website and that Google can rank it.
Also, check the plugins that are in charge of SEO, and make sure that the sitemap is turned on and set up correctly. Google your website and read if the search results show what should be displayed.
Check Texts, Images, and Pages
Now, the new website is seen in public and, at first glance, it seems to work properly. Nevertheless, check how the content is displayed on the new website. SEO won’t be good either if the formatting of the page is broken and the images “stick out” or anything appears that shouldn’t. If you’re using one of the SEO plugins, check if you need to set it up again.
It’s necessary to optimize the text, images, and links on the pages so make sure to check this if you’re starting a new SEO campaign.
Test It All on Your Smartphone and Tablet
There are excellent platforms on which you can perform the necessary tests of this kind. Here is where, for example, a website for mobile phones can be tested: MobileTest.me, mobiReady, and Responsinator.
Also, keep in mind that Google Speed Update affects the ranking of the websites for search on mobile phones. Google your website on your phone or tablet and make sure everything is correct in the search results. Does the website load quickly on the phone?
Keep in mind that the traditional approach to testing shouldn’t be ruled out, so take out your smartphone or tablet from the pocket, ask colleagues to do the same, and now let everyone test everything you see on the website. Report bugs to the designer or developer.
Review the Google Search Console Thoroughly
The Google Search Console provides quite enough useful information if something goes wrong. Of course, under the condition that your website is signed in to this Google service. Send everything and carefully analyze what’s going on. If you need to re-report the sitemap, do so.
The Google Search Console provides enough information about all the problems that occur when Google tries to index a website, so keep an eye on it.
Track Possible Traffic Loss on Google Analytics
Write down the exact date when you launched the new website. Track the number of visits and compare them with the visits you had on the old website. If the number of visits decreases, it usually means that something isn’t working well on the website or that visitors don’t like the new website. If the number of visits increases, it means that the new website is doing the job for which it was redesigned.
In both cases, don’t react impulsively and wait for the impressions to settle down. If you don’t see visits to the new website, it means that you forgot to enter the Google Analytics code.
Conclusion – When’s the Right Time to Redesign?
Website redesign necessarily appears as a consequence of insufficiently optimized website, i.e. superficial approach during its creation, or simply the technology of creation and/or access to its creation and functioning are outdated.
In addition to the basic indications (whether your website looks outdated compared to competing websites or not, whether visitors can easily get in touch with you or not, whether pages load slowly or not, etc.) there are other main signs that it’s time to redesign. For example, if you have confusing navigation on the website due to which your visitors fail to access the information even after a few clicks. Also, if you don’t have good results on Google, then it’s time to redesign as well as to work on SEO website optimization.