Avoid SEO Mistakes During Website Redesigning

For various reasons we sometimes want to change the website structure. Although intention behind this may be to make your website more SEO friendly and attract more customers, in reality, it may damage the existing reputation of your website and perform very bad at the SEO front. It is very common that SEO traffic drops AFTER one redesigns the website when proper care is not taken and trust me this graph may be even more steeper than you would anticipate.

Avoid SEO Mistakes During Website Redesigning

Avoid SEO Mistakes During Website Redesigning

Tips to Avoid SEO Tragedy

Although there are many points to be taken care off and precautions vary greatly with the website environment, here are the few basic general points that EVERY website owner should consider while restructuring the website.

1. Understand Website’s Structure: Crawl Your Website

If you are trying to redesign the website chances are very high that some URLs will change. If you choose to ignore the old URLs and focus only on the new and upcoming URL structure, you are going to lose the SEO value from old webpages. And when this happens you happen to lose organic traffic, lower mentions in search results, low revenue drop in ranking etc.

Not to mention, it’s better to crawl your website and get the FEEL of existing website structure. Xenu Link Sluth is one very good and free tool for doing that.

Give special attention to pages which give 404 error response. Either (re)create these pages or redirect them to some existing page in order to retain the SEO equity from these pages.

2. Who is linking to you: Perform Inbound Analysis

Inbound links are the links on your website which others have linked to. If you just change the website without keeping a note of inbound link, you may ignore the IMPORTANT URLs with high SEO value. Before taking any major step it is advisable that you perform inboung link analysis using MajesticOPEN SITE EXPLORER or similar tools.

3. Redirect Users: 301 Redirect

This is THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP while redesigning the website. All your old pages which have high SEO value or currently non-existing in the new structure MUST 301 redirect to their new website counterpart. 301 redirect safely transfers PAGE-RANK from old page to new page and thus retains the SEO value.

If you fail to redirect do this step right, it WILL give results you don’t want. Better you plan this step in advance and don’t regret later. Be in touch with your developer team, you might need to learn what are .htaccess, mod_rewrite, and ISAPI_Rewrite, but trust me it’s worth your time.

TIP: If you can restructure your website keeping old URL structure, that’s the best way to go for it.

4. What is to be Improved? Exhaustive SEO Audit

Before going for major overhaul of your old website it is a good idea to have complete SEO audit of your website. Exhaustive SEO analysis of your website makes you in a position to list down the existing strengths work on weaknesses explore opportunity windows and look out for the threats in your niche. You may surely be able to address a situation which down the line can create problems if not handled carefully.

5. What is Important: Website Report Analysis

Do you know what are your top performing pages? Top content? Most referred pages? Most shared pages? etc etc. Well everything important lies right under your nose, you only need to look for it. What better way than a website report to serve the purpose? This might not seem very important at first as you might seem to think that you already know everything, trust me even a cursory look at a well prepared website report will reveal new information you weren’t aware of.

6. Keep ON-Page Optimization: Keeping the SEO Juice Intact

Even when everything LOOKS right doesn’t mean it’s actually right. Make sure you have done correct on page optimization.

  • Is the page title OK?
  • Meta description tag is present with RELEVANT information (since this is the ONLY IMPORTANT META TAG that Google cares about).
  • Keywords are properly covered in the content.
  • h1 tag there on every webpage.
  • Users when share content to social media, your web page is optimized etc etc.

7. Using Webmaster already? Set up Webmaster’s Account

Both Google and Bing provide webmaster tools for free and it takes me by surprise that many of the companies forget to create webmaster’s account. You just need to verify your website’s ownership and you can then view search queries, diagnostics related to your owned website(s), click thorough data report etc many many useful details.

Also these serve as a very good notification services. Whenever things go bad Google and Bind send you email notifications. What more, you can measure the changes during your website structure change once you chalk out a nice working plan of doing so in your mind.

8. Using the Right CMS? Evaluate Your CMS

If you are among those avoid custom website design and love to take advantage of the existing CMS systems and their popularity, do ensure that the CMS you have opted is indeed good for SEO. These days almost every CMS boasts about their SEO capabilities it does not hurt to re-check if it has everything that you need. Since wrong choice of CMS can brutally murder your search engine rankings.

One way to know if they do the job is to audit website which already use the CMS of your choice. Also if want to incover the technologies used to create a website, you may want to use Wappalyzer.

9. Great  Programming/Design is NOT Equal to Great SEO

I’ve seen many websites that look very nice and catchy but use lots of images, flash content and other formats which are difficult for search engines to read. This definitely is pleasing to the user’s eye but unless search engines capture most of your website’s content in a structured format, you are likely not to rank well in organic search results. SEO is just not about great design but sticking to web structure as closely as it possibly can be. Make sure your developer understands the impact of their work. Flashy sites with lots of AJAX, JavaScript, Forms etc may impact the search ranking of your website. So be careful when using these.

Final Thoughts: What Matters at the End…

Finally, it all boils down to one thing, great experience to both the users and the search engines. Don’t rush while redesigning your website, list down all the things which you find are the strength of your website and retain them. Work on the weaknesses and exploit opportunities. Chose CMS (if you decide to go for it) after a lot of research, work on redirection plans, on site page optimization, page design etc.

When users are happy while browsing the website and search engines are more than happy to put your webpages on top of organic search, you know you are doing it right.

Deepak Pal
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Deepak Pal

Owner at Lofoya.com
Deepak is a web enthusiast who loves to write on technology related topics. He runs two educational platforms, Lofoya and GyanPal dedicated to the promotion of FREE EDUCATION.
Deepak Pal
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  • Hello,

    Well, Greatly described points about SEO mistakes, we make or have made in our past.

    When it started my career in blogging, the only thing I know, was writing article and building links, but majority of my articles were full of keywords and the links I was building was just spam links with optimized anchor texts.

    Also, I was not aware of internal links important, but with time everything has improved and these days, I rarely make any SEO mistake.

    But, still a huge number of newbies are making these mistakes and I sadly say, that they are wasting their valuable time.

    So, considering this, a brilliant post written, it will help many out there, searching for this.

    Keep up the good work.


  • If effective SEO is a concern of yours (and it should be!) there are many things to avoid when building a website, many of which will have a very serious impact on whether someone can ever find your site using a search engine.

  • I have redesigned my website from desktop design to responsive design. I hope things go well!

    • Hope you have taken care of things I’ve mentioned in the post. Well it’s never easy to predict the future. With time it will become clear if you have taken a correct step.

  • Thank you for the write up. I will keep these SEO points in my website before redesigning my website.

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