How a website redesign can destroy your search engine rankings!

Website redesign disasters and how to avoid them
Almost all website redesigns involve restructuring the layout and content in order to improve the site usability.

Not all website designers are equal, badly planned and ill-conceived websites can do irreparable damage to your business. In short, a website redesign can destroy your search engine rankings (SERPS). If you value your business making a decision on your website development is not something you can take lightly.

I have seen the damage that can be caused first hand, websites effectively disappearing from search engines, huge drops in organic search traffic, the email and phone enquiries substantially dropping.

After years of building your website presence, it vanishes overnight! What should have been a great new website design, suddenly turns into a horrific business disaster, worse still, once your rankings have gone that’s it, the damage can be permanent.

Depending on how reliant your business is on website traffic, these fundamental mistakes can put an end to your business.

How to redesign a website properly

Almost all website redesigns involve restructuring the layout and content in order to improve the site usability, this means your page URLs will change, a changed URL will result in a Page Not Found (404) error, Google will at drop that page from its index since it is no longer a valid URL, your site then loses that credit for a link pointing to your site.

A larger site will often have many URLs that will change. Since Google weights inbound links heavily in its ranking algorithm, the URL changes can cause your rankings and search traffic to nosedive, this damage is often permanent.

Avoid losing Search Engine Ranking

Before you employ any website designer to redesign your website, make sure that firstly they have mentioned how they plan to preserve your current search engine rankings, if they don’t raise this issue with you, avoid them. A great looking website with no traffic is as useful as a chocolate teapot.

Considered SEO planning

A lot of businesses that have a website don’t think about SEO when redesigning their sites and more often don’t know how SEO works.

Just getting caught up in the excitement of redesigning their websites, changing valuable content from historical pages, which in turn leads to their SEO failing. Planning and discussing your SEO with your website developer is essential to preserving your current ranking.

Index your website (Yourself!)

Crawling your site enables you to know everything about it; from the structure of the Metadata and also the URLs. Save your list will need this to create redirects for these pages to the new page. I use for indexing sites.

Your Current Meta Data

Preserving your Google ranking during a website redesign.
Your website’s metadata as seen and used by Google.

My advice initially on a redesigned site would be to keep your current meta data (the title and snippet Google uses to describe your page.) To many changes to your site in one go will make it difficult to see if the site redesign has made and benefit to your website’s traffic or usage.

Meta Data Updating

This can be carried our gently over an extended period of time, don’t rush to revise everything, update one or two pages, and wait to see if it gave you the improvements in the search rankings you were expecting, remember you can also revert back if the result is not what you expected.

Above All Be Careful

As I mentioned at the beginning, not all website designers are equal, some have greater technical knowledge but lack design skills, some have better design skills but don’t understand how users interact with the site, some will seem expensive, others can appear very cheap, but regardless of quality or cost, a considerable amount of them will pay no attention to your current search engine ranking.

Who needs a website that can’t be found? Don’t let your business pay for someone else’s lack of knowledge.