Have been warned by many of your counterparts or business colleagues of a fall in SEO rankings after a website redesign or a CMS migration? Well, there is no need to be very apprehensive about it provided you keep in mind a few pointers which include –
Know your site – The best way to know your site (including the sub domains, if any) is by crawling it yourself either through a free or a paid tool. The reason being you will get a fair idea of your current URLs especially those which enjoy good rankings. Over and above this, the array of reports provided by the site crawler comes very handy in understanding the website structure search traffic, rankings and much more. This comes most useful after a website redesign wherein most URLs have changed leading to drop in search engine rankings. But when you have referral to refer to, the going gets definitely easier, clearer and much more convenient after a website redesign.
Undertake an Inbound Link Analysis – Before redesigning a website or migration, it is imperative to perform an inbound link analysis for you and your developers will get a clear idea of how to migrate or redirect those pages. You can utilize various tools available online for the same. By doing inbound link analysis, you can get a list of your most powerful links which come handy in understanding your URL structure.
Plan the 301 redirection move – Remember, the 301 redirection plan is the crux of your migration or redesign initiative. It is this redirection which ensures that PageRank successfully moves from older links to newer links ensuring your search rankings are more or less unaffected. At no point should the search engines should get confused on account of improper redirection. The developers should be well versed with usage of 301, rewriting of URLs and other technical parameters required during this process. A quick note here – if you are not changing the URL structure then you do not need to issue 301 redirects and this means saving a lot of time and effort.
Undertake an SEO Audit – Before revamping or migrating a website, an SEO Audit comes handy in understanding the parameters which need to be improved, the areas which need to be left untouched and what all you can discard. This is can be considered as your path to higher SEO rankings as you undertake to redesign your website. If you are embarking on better website, it pays to study the existing one and go ahead for a better and a much superior website in return.
Analyse and understand your sites’ reports – before you proceed to redesign, it is essential you analyse and understand the reports of your current’s site analysis reveal giving emphasis to the home page, landing pages, site referrals and other crucial parameters. This gives you a fair idea of on which pages or sections, extra attention has to be paid.
Site Optimization is a continuous process – If your existing site is well optimized and enjoys high page ranks then when you redesign it and leave behind most of the optimization segment, how is your redesigned website going to be ranked higher. Instead, you should be well prepared to optimize your site as and when new pages are made and mind you, it would be better if you use latest optimization techniques for doing them. In fact, this is the most logical manner to ensure the site traffic as well its page rank does not suffer greatly during redesign or migration.
Setting up Webmaster Accounts – When top most search engines esp. Bing and Google have set of webmaster tools which come handy in identifying website ownership, analysis, search queries and other website related detailed, setting up a webmaster account become an absolute must. Do set up on even before your redesign or migrate or site for through this account you will come across very useful site related information, pre as well as post website redesign or migrations. In fact, search engines prefer to correspond to website owners through the webmaster accounts
Choosing the right CMS – If you are planning to shift the website onto a CMS be extremely careful in choosing one for an inappropriate CMS system is literally disastrous to your website especially SEO wise. Instead of finally going ahead with a CMS system, go through websites which run on your chosen CMS and check out their performance especially SEO wise. At this point, you can check out a couple of referrals before finally migrating to one.
Finally, if you proceed keeping these parameters in mind, there is no reason why your website redesign or migration should hamper our traffic or search rankings drastically. Yes, there will be some upheavals but you will be in control to handle them out quite confidently and in a better manner.
There are many important things that need to be taken care of while going through a website redesign or CMS migration in order to avoid losing SEO power, search engine rankings, natural search traffic, and ultimately sales. Among all the parameters that need to be taken care of, the most important one is not to have just a global 301 redirect, but on a page to page basis.
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