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website redesign

‘I want to redesign my website!’ is easy to say but only an SEO executive knows what’s in store for him.

Building a website and launching it does not rank it on search engines where it is now. It is Search Engine Optimization that makes ‘just another website’ to ‘the most visited website’.

So naturally, when you decide on redesigning your website, all the SEO executives who worked on it to make its appearance on the first 5 pages of the search engine possible have a lot to consider.

And amidst this, if you decide to let your SEO team know about your redesigning plans only before two days of the launch then it can tank not only everything that they worked for but also your sales.

So Yes, You Must Consider Your SEO Before Redesigning Your Website

You may have invested a lot in making your site great. Your rankings will be soaring, organic traffic is as natural as it can ever be, and sales are persistently growing, do you really want to jeopardize all the work that you have put into your site? No, right? 

Let us guide you through this entire process of redesigning your website! Here is a 7-step guide to keep your SEO intact while revamping your website!

Step 1: Always, Consider Your SEO

Instead of changing your design left and right without giving a second thought, take a pause, and think about the impact it could have on your SEO.

The biggest mistake that people make is they dump all the prevailing content in form of blogs, articles, and videos in the quest of redesigning.

Don’t do that!

All your content has credibility which contributes in giving your website a good rank. You can use all your previous contents to keep the SEO intact.

Secondly, changing URLs without redirecting the older ones is a huge mistake on your part. It strongly affects the visit ratio.

In all, there’s a lot to consider about SEO before you start redesigning your website.

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Step 2: Crawl Your Site Before Making Any Changes

Google crawls your website before ranking it and remembers the structure of the site, metadata used, and the URLs.

If you redesign your website without considering the existing structure, metadata, and URLs, there’s a chance that Google might not recognize your website affecting your rankings severely.

SEO crawling allows you to peek at the existing structure of your website, data, metadata, and URLs used making it easier to map the changes with the existing structure.

Changes aligning with your current site structure will have a great impact on your SEO after going through the redesigning phase.

Step 3: Audit Your Website To Check Its SEO Health

How much ever we try to make things exceptional, we get a reminder of the fact that we are just humans.

In this case, a site audit can remind you how human you are with the mistakes that have been made which ultimately affects your site’s rapport with the search engine.

Apparently, when the search engine crawls your website, it looks for certain things and when it finds that those factors such as meta tags, page titles, etc. are missing, it affects the site rank.

Auditing your website allows you to spot these problems so that you can recover them when redesigning.

Here is what you should look for while auditing your current website using a site-auditing tool:

  • Missing Or Empty Page Title Tags
  • Too Long Titles
  • Duplicate Titles
  • Duplicate Meta Descriptions
  • Missing Meta Description
  • Too Long URLs
  • Canonical Tags
  • Missing H1 Tags
  • Duplicate H1 Tags
  • Broken Links (Internal/External)

While you can use a tool to determine the status of the above things, there are some things which you’d need to look for manually:

  • Loading time and site performance
  • URL structure
  • Robots.txt
  • XML Sitemap
  • Duplicate Content
  • Pages indexed by Google

After you audit your site using the tool as well as manually, you will have a clear idea as to what’s wrong with your website and where do you need to levy changes.

Step 4: Don’t Let Google Index Your New Site

Yes, it’s true that we aim to index the website so that the search engines can crawl all the web pages and list them on the engine.

But things are a bit different when it comes to your redesigned site.

That is if you are still working on it. What happens is if you allow Google to index your website while you are still working on it, the freshly added content will be indexed and have no value when you launch the website as Google will have it indexed already and will consider it duplicate.

Thus, it is one of the most important things to keep in mind and yet, most of the designers fail to do so.

There are two ways you can set the no-index tag for Google:

  1. All CMSs have a checkbox that allows you to set the parameter to ‘NO Indexing’. For instance, WordPress has a box that reads ‘Discourage search engines from indexing this site’. All you have to do is to check the box.
  2. In case your CMS doesn’t have this option, you can block the site in Robots.txt file. Even so, if your CMS doesn’t allow this, all you need to do is add the following in your Robots.txt file:

User-Agent:*

Disallow:/

In all, you have to stop Google from indexing your new site as long as you are working on it.

Step 5: It’s Time To Crawl Your New Site

To understand if the structure of the redesigned website is same as the existing website, you will need to crawl the new site and compare with that of the crawled copy of the existing site.

Here is how to do it methodically:

  1. Our second step was to crawl the existing site. While you do that, save the copy of the crawled existing site and name it ‘Existing Crawled Site For Editing’.
  2. The next thing you need to do is to crawl the redesigned site and name the file as ‘New Site Crawl’. Make a copy of this and save as ‘New Crawled Site For Editing’.
  3. Open the ‘Existing Crawled Site For Editing’ and perform ‘Find and Replace’ command for the URLs. Replace all the old URLs with the new URLs from ‘New Crawled Site For Editing’.
  4. Once the replacement is done, copy all the URLs to a text document and save the file as ‘Testing Crawl For Tool’. You will use this document to crawl in a crawling tool such as Screaming Frog.

At this point, you will now have 5 saved documents with both of your site’s data:

  • Existing Crawled Site
  • Existing Crawled Site For Editing
  • New Crawled Site
  • New Crawled Site For Editing
  • Testing Crawl For Tool

All the above documents will be in XLS form except for the ‘Testing Crawl For Tool’ file which will be in text.

  1. Whichever crawling tool you use, find a way to crawl a .txt file. Although there might be some changes visible, you will be able to upload a .txt file for crawling.
  2. Start crawling the ‘Testing Crawl For Tool’ using the tool. If you are unable to, uncheck the indexing box to allow crawling via search engines.
  3. You will have an HTML file as a result and all you have to do now is to save it as an excel file. Save the file as ‘Final Crawled New Site’.

At the end of this stage, you will have 6 saved files:

  • Existing Crawled Site
  • Existing Crawled Site For Editing
  • New Crawled Site
  • New Crawled Site For Editing
  • Testing Crawl For Tool
  • Final Crawled New Site

Compare the final file with the existing crawled site to map the differences in structure and make sure the changes are made.

Step 6: Data Analysis Of The Site

To analyze the data, you will have to open the ‘Final Crawled New Site’. Now there’ll be an entire row for internal HTML which you need to delete along with the next row if it has no values.

Now, you will have the following values as headers:

  • Address
  • Content
  • Status code
  • Status
  • Title 1
  • Title 1 length
  • Title 1- pixel width
  • Meta description 1
  • Meta description 1 length
  • Meta description 1- pixel width
  • Meta keyword 1
  • Meta keywords 1 length
  • H1-1
  • H1-1 length
  • H2-1
  • H2-1 length
  • Meta robots 1
  • Meta refresh 1
  • Canonical link element 1
  • Size
  • Word count
  • Level
  • Inlinks
  • Outlinks
  • External outlinks
  • Hash

Some of the mentioned elements have a number ‘1’ succeeding its name which suggests that it may have a second, similar value. But, make sure the following elements don’t feature the second value:

  • Title
  • Meta description
  • Meta keywords
  • Canonical tag
  • H1 (Although some don’t consider it to be in this section)

The above values should only be one and if there’s another of its kind, you have to edit your new site.

Now you need to perform some functions to check the status of your new redesigned site.

  • Select the filter icon and set the value of the status code=200 to see which of the URLs are working and which aren’t. Those that aren’t working, you might need to check them manually and identify the problem.
  • Search for ‘Level’ heading and sort the values from smallest to largest. Segment the data and copy paste the different attributes such as ‘Page Titles’, ‘Meta Description’, etc. in new excel sheets within the same spreadsheet. Once you are done with this process you will have the data sorted into following:
  • Page Title Sheet
    • Address
    • Content
    • Status code
    • Status
    • Title 1
    • Title 1 length
    • Title 1- pixel width
  • Meta Description Sheet
    • Address
    • Content
    • Status code
    • Status
    • Meta description 1
    • Meta description 1 length
    • Meta description 1- pixel width
  • Meta Keywords Sheet
    • Address
    • Content
    • Status code
    • Status
    • Meta keyword 1
    • Meta keywords 1 length
  • H1 Sheet
    • Address
    • Content
    • Status code
    • Status
    • H1-1
    • H1-1 length
  • H2 Sheet
    • Address
    • Content
    • Status code
    • Status
    • H2-1
    • H2-1 length
  • Canonicals, Word Count, Level, In-links and Out-links
    • Address
    • Content
    • Status code
    • Status
    • Canonical link element 1
    • Word count
    • Level
    • In-links
    • Out-links

Do the same for ‘Existing Crawled Site For Editing’ and compare the values to see if they match. Look for errors such as apostrophes, misspellings, misplacement of symbols, etc. Compare all the attributes by placing the values from ‘Existing Crawled Site For Editing’ to the final crawled sheets.

Once you are done with 202 code, repeat the procedure for ‘404’ code.

Yes, it is a lengthy process but in the end, you will have an SEO friendly redesigned site.

Step 7: Final Checks

It’s time you need to check your site’s rank and content. You have to trigger searches using specific keywords to see where the page targeted ranks and if it jumps from 4th to 19th, you may have to correct some big mistakes through the process such as:

  • Changed URL
  • Changes in metadata
  • Lost content
  • Unintentional redirection
  • Noindex tag

Now, the question is, do you want to go through this all alone? No, right? That’s what we are here for. Keep us in the loop while you plan on redesigning your site and we will perform all these tasks to make sure you have an SEO-friendly revamped site!

Rishi Thakker

Rishi Thakker

Rishi Thakker is an aspiring IT Leaders, heading Huptech Web Development & Digital Marketing Agency. Rishi is passionate about probing new technology trends and sharing his ideas on it. He is engaged in drafting the content on creative entrepreneurship, technical, digital/UX , influential and state-of-the-art technologies. With several impressive credits to his name, his further priority is to travel on a suspenseful exploration of the knowledge.

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