Search engines favor websites that provide fantastic user experiences. However, if you perform a design overhaul, your site’s search engine optimization (SEO) may take a temporary hit.
Use this website redesign SEO checklist to understand why your organic traffic might decrease after a site redesign, and what you can do to minimize its negative impact.
Search engines need time to reevaluate
It can be disheartening to watch your site traffic decrease after you roll out exciting changes.
This result is typical, as search engines need time to reevaluate your site after you make major adjustments. Search engines like Google are expected to serve the most relevant content to users. Therefore, a site like Google might temporarily lower your ranking until it has a chance to reevaluate and index your site.
This is especially true if you made drastic changes to your site’s content or overarching structure. These updates communicate the value of your pages to search engines, so their rankings need to be reconsidered.
Search engines will crawl your site on their own, but it’s possible to expedite process by submitting your sitemap directly to Google.
Website redesign SEO checklist
The long-term benefits of redesigning your site typically outweigh the short-term decrease in organic traffic. Just focus on improving your site’s user experience, as search engines favor navigable websites that provide high-quality content.
You can get ahead of any potential SEO issues that a site redesign can cause by following three steps.
1. Do your research before deleting pages or changing URLs
If possible, avoid changing your site’s structure. If you absolutely need to delete a page, dig into your site’s analytics using a tool like Jetpack to ensure that the page isn’t responsible for a significant portion of your overall traffic. If it is, consider revamping rather than completely deleting the existing page.
If you retire pages, set up 301 redirects. These permanently reroute search engines and visitors to the correct pages. Learn more about setting up 301 redirects from Yoast SEO.
2. Make sure that links are updated
Internal links are links from one of your pages that direct to another. These links help search engines understand the hierarchy of your site, along with the value of individual pages. If you change any URLs, verify that all internal links are consistent. If you can, update any backlinks (such as those on your social media profiles) to reflect the change.
3. Understand which pages rank well and why
When you make changes to a page’s content, you can unintentionally remove the elements that were driving the most organic traffic to your site.
Search engine-friendly copy will be thorough and rich with keywords that are relevant to a particular topic. Be sure that important keywords are prominently featured in your page headers, titles, meta descriptions, and other key SEO elements.
A site redesign doesn’t mean reset
There are plenty of factors to consider during a site overhaul. So, following a redesign checklist can prevent you from starting SEO efforts from scratch.
To update your website’s appearance without changing its content or structure, head over to the Theme Showcase. From here, you can sort through designs by feature, layout, subject, and style.
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