How to Redesign Your Website Without Hurting Your Page Rankings
February 13, 2023 | 4 min read time
Topics: website optimization
Redesigning your website can help give it a fresh, modern look and make it easier for visitors to navigate, but the fear of losing your page rankings is a concern for many business owners. Luckily, there are many design principles that work together to keep things fresh and make your site feel new without sacrificing its function or layout. Here are a few tips on redesigning your website without hurting performance or lowering organic search rankings.
Organic search rankings are the first step in potential customers being able to find your site, so it is important to either maintain your current ranking or improve your ranking.
Improving your page rank can be as easy as removing broken links from your site, fixing spelling and grammar errors, or removing clutter from your site. Make these easy changes to your pages to ensure your page rank stays high and you continue to receive traffic from Google and other search engines.
Prior to starting a redesign project, you need to know exactly where you’re starting from and what you’re planning to change. If you don’t have a plan, it’s easy to get carried away and make unnecessary changes.
Before you get into the nitty gritty of your redesign project, it’s important to know what your current ranking is for each of the main Google search engines.
In order to give users the most useful information, Search algorithms look at several factors and signals including the words of a person’s query, the relevance and usability of pages, and the expertise of sources, among other things.
To find your current ranking:
If your page is only receiving a few clicks per month, you’re missing out on a lot of potential traffic and you can fully take advantage of your redesign to improve SEO and usability.
You’ll also want to implement a redesign strategy. First, create a sitemap of your existing website. This will allow you to map old pages to new pages, which will help ensure that you won’t accidentally leave something important out of the newly redesigned site.
After you create your sitemap, you’ll want to confirm the SEO stats for each page of your existing site. Doing this allows you to know which web pages boost your SEO and which ones don’t.
Once you have researched your current ranking and planned your redesign, you can begin building out your new pages. Keep in mind that you should never conduct your redesign on your current website. It can cause visitor issues and give you problems later on, down the line.
The best approach for ensuring you don’t cause issues for your website in the future would be to copy your site and set it up into a temporary URL. Once you’ve done that, you can begin making changes to it. Alternatively, you can switch the domain once all the required redesign changes are made.
In order to maintain your current rank, you should aim to keep the title tag, meta description, URL, and the H1-H6 the same as these are the areas most commonly crawled and are most important for pages that are already ranking on Google.
Make sure your development team knows which copy and tags need to stay the same. During a redesign, you may need to make small changes to copy, but really try to make sure these changes are small and deliberate.
It’s also important to make sure you don’t remove any pages that are doing well. If you must remove pages, make sure you inform the search engines about this by setting up a 301 redirect. Not implementing a redirect can kill your traffic by up to 94%.
If you draft a sitemap as we mentioned earlier, you’ll have an organized list of old page URLs vs. new page URLs and you’ll be able to create redirects easier.
When you feel like you’ve completed your redesign process, it’s time to test your new website. These are the main things you should verify in your post-launch audit:
You can use tools like Google’s Search Central (Formerly Webmaster) to see how your site is performing, as well as to track your metrics. You’ll want to make sure that you’re targeting your new design for your intended audience.
With the right tools and a little bit of preparation, you can successfully redesign your website without hurting your page rankings.
Don't let a website redesign tank your page rankings - you can have a beautiful and high-performing website!