Seeing your SEO efforts pay off by having your site rank on the first page of searches is something to be proud of. However, redesigning a website can affect these rankings if done the wrong way. Marketers should take note of things such as technological, operational, and creative aspects during the redesign phase. In fact, the project’s success depends on proper collaboration between all parties involved in the process – UX and UI designers, developers, marketing strategists, and content writers.
Turning a website around can take weeks and sometimes even months since there are many things that a team has to consider.
This article will discuss the most important details to avoid during a website redesign.
What Is a WordPress Website Redesign?
A WordPress website redesign is the process of reconstructing a site to improve the overall performance. For example, it might involve updating website content, tweaking the layout, transferring the website content from one CMS to another, enhancing the navigation, or rebuilding pages. Implementing these steps can help brands get improved conversion rates, target new markets, and introduce new business models or specific groups of services.
Designers and coders have two options with the redesign location, depending on whether admins are planning to build a new site or redesign the current one.
Here are the two options available:
- Temporary hosting. You can go for a website maintenance plan if you are just planning on creating faster hosting. These plans often offer annual payment schemes, which is great for short-term or nonpermanent redesign projects. Go for a package that provides VPS servers so you can add a hosting account and start with the rebuilding process within a matter of minutes.
- Subdirectories. You can also opt to rebuild the webpage through its subdirectory. This option is less time-consuming and notably easier to execute. However, you should never forget to edit the root directory’s index.php file and fix the WordPress source files’ path.
When Should You Consider Redesigning Your WordPress Site?
Restructuring a WordPress site takes a lot of planning. Businesses should have clear reasons as to why they’d want to redo their webpage, such as the following:
- The website is not bringing in enough traffic.
- A poor UI/UX.
- Your leads are not turning into conversions.
- You are looking to rebrand.
- You are not satisfied with the functionalities of your website and are looking to change or add a few things.
- The WordPress webpage has a high bounce rate.
- The on-page SEO on your site is weak.
- You want to alter the way your website looks.
- Your links and content are outdated.
However, since we are talking about keeping your SEO in its original form while doing a website revamp, let’s start discussing how you should go about it.
Start with a Website Audit
The first thing that you should do before starting with the redesign is an SEO audit. It will help you monitor which pages and features are doing well and which ones need improvement. Tools such as Semrush, SEOptimer, or Screaming Frog perform comprehensive SEO audits to help companies improve their SERP rankings.
Here are some of the things that you have to take into account while doing an overall audit:
- Duplicate content.
- Incomplete data, including metadata, page titles, tags, and more.
- Broken images, external and internal links.
- Alt text on images.
- HTTPS and XML sitemap status.
- Site and page load times.
- Crawl errors
- Robots.txt files
You can run your URL through the tools that we’ve mentioned above to see if there are errors on your website. The app will generate a report of all the issues you need to work on during the redesign process.
Use 301 and 302 Redirects
If you are planning on changing your URL, you should be using 301 redirects to lead your web visitors to the new site. Redirects are used to signal search engines that the old domain has been replaced with a new one. The absence of 301 and 302 redirects will lead to 404 errors, negatively impacting your SEO ratings.
And here is the time to mention the difference between 301 and 302 redirects.
A 301 redirect lets web visitors know that the page has moved to a new location permanently, while a 302 redirect indicates that the page was moved to a new URL temporarily.
This means that developers should use the correct pages to redirect their guests. If you plan to eliminate a page, you can choose to reroute your leads to the most relevant page possible.
These pages should have similar keywords. You can choose to redirect your audience to your homepage or blog, but make sure that they are coming from a similar place that they have searched previously.
Create a Backup of All of the Pages
It’s always essential to backup all your web pages to prevent losing any critical data. Keep your plugins, theme files, and the whole database secure before proceeding with the reorganization.
There is a way to backup your WordPress site for free, such as using the UpdraftPlus plugin. Here’s how to start with it:
- Install the UpdraftPlus plugin through your WordPress dashboard.
- Next, go to the “Settings” option and click on “UpdraftPlus Backups”.
- Customize the settings to your backup needs.
You can either do manual or automatic backups through the said plugin. You can choose from hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly backups if you opt for the automatic option.
Examine Your Current SEO Standing
Determining the needed data is a must before advancing with the redesign. Analyze your old website’s numbers and see how each of the pages used to perform. You can use Google Analytics to determine the following data:
- The total traffic derived from each page.
- The total leads you got from your website.
- Average time spent.
- The number of leads that turned into conversions.
- Organic traffic gained from different pages.
- Engagement metrics.
- Inbound links.
Perform On-Page Optimization of the Web Content
Once you’re done implementing the changes, it’s time to perform an on-page optimization of your content. Remember to be consistent with the way your headers, title, body, and meta description look. Make a detailed spreadsheet of all the changes that you have made to avoid forgetting anything in the process.
You can use an on-page SEO checker or audit tool to make sure that the optimization goes smoothly.
Here is a roundup of an on-page SEO check:
- Choose one primary keyword and three to five related keywords to use for your content.
- Make sure that the keywords that you are using haven’t been used on other content posted on your website.
- Include the chosen keywords to your title, subheadings, and the rest of the article. The keyword density must be at around two to three percent.
- Produce original and unique content to avoid duplication and plagiarism.
- Keep your draft scannable.
- The primary keywords must be included at least once in a subheading and on the first and last paragraph of the content.
- Add relevant internal and external links.
- Open a new page for outbound links.
- Add high-quality images to the article.
- Optimize the graphics by adding the primary keywords to the image file name, title, and alt tag. Compress the image size so it won’t affect your page’s loading time.
- Include the primary keyword in the URL.
- Use an optimized meta title and meta description.
- Attach a structured data markup.
- Proofread and check the content to avoid any errors.
Keep the URL Structure Intact
Keeping the original URL structure intact can help retain the WP site’s SEO from going haywire. In a perfect world, websites can carry on using the same filename even after a redesign. However, there are instances where you’d have to consider removing or consolidating some pages, which leads to a change in the URL. Doing so can impact your SEO negatively, which is why it is vital to keep your structure in its original form as much as possible.
Here are some tips for structuring your URLs correctly:
- Be consistent and keep it as simple as possible.
- Keep it clear and organized.
- Include your keywords.
- Use “HTTPS” to ensure security within the website.
- Do not use special characters.
- Steer clear from using “stop words” such as “the”, “a”, and “an”.
Proper Testing Before Going Live
Lastly, you want to test every single function that you’ve changed or added before relaunching the website to ensure your SEO ranking won’t drop. Testing should be done during and after the redesign and development periods, as this will reveal the flaws that you need to focus on.
Here are two ways to test out the functionalities implemented before the launch:
- User testing. Have an individual, preferably one who’s not involved with the redesign, test the website. Ask them to navigate the website and pay attention to the buttons that they are clicking. Take real-time notes of the things they find and change them after the testing is done. Additionally, you can also create a list of important tasks that you want the user to perform. Ask them about their experience and if they have any suggestions afterward and take these into account.
- Beta testing. Once you are ready to roll things out, start by doing beta testing before the actual launch. This practice will help you to see if the redesign has been successful. You can also ask for customer feedback and decide if you need to change things further. Then, make the website available to just a few people before announcing it to the public.
Submit the Sitemap to Search Engines
An XML sitemap is used to provide important information on your site. Search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing read sitemaps to crawl the website better. Web admins should submit a sitemap to these companies once the redesign has been done. It usually only takes a few hours for the search engine crawlers to update the webpage.
Here’s how to submit your new sitemap to Google and other search engines:
- Go to your “Google Search Console” home page.
- Choose “Sitemaps”.
- Type in “sitemap.xml” in the text field at the end of your domain.
- Press “Submit”.
The search engine will then proceed to reevaluate your new WordPress site for better SEO rankings.
Closely Monitor Your SEO Ranking
Going live with the new WordPress webpage is not the end of your redesign journey. You should make it a point to closely monitor your SEO ranking to see that everything is going smoothly. Things can sometimes go wrong even if a quality control process is put in place, and observing your ratings after a few months is vital to the process.
You can use Google Search Console to help you measure your traffic and performance. It also aids with optimizing content through search analytics and alerting you to critical issues on your site. In addition, it is free to use, so there’s no need to worry about hefty fees.
Additionally, you should also watch out for slow loading times on your new webpage. Perform speed tests every week or so to make sure that nothing is lagging on your end.
Lastly, keep a close eye on your analytics. Review your top and worst performing pages, analyze your audience, examine your rankings, inspect your visitors’ behavior, and check which device your customers are using. Doing this will help you decide if you need to tweak anything or keep it as it is.
Comparing your old WordPress website stats to your new one is essential to keeping your SEO ranking. Plan your reorganization and make sure to redesign the website without losing SEO.
A site overhaul might sound complicated, but it should be easy to carry out if you have the proper guidelines in place. Maintain updates and your website will continue to rank well in searches.