Throughout the life of a website, it will undergo, or should undergo, several redesigns. Time changes, technologies change, and websites need to be kept fresh and appealing. Using the same design that you’ve had for the past 10 years is a sure fire way of telling your customers that you don’t really care too much about your online presence.
In order for the redesign process to go smoothly, there are a number of things that you should pay attention to. By following our easy to follow Ultimate SEO Checklist for Website Redesign, you will be well on your way to the successful relaunch of a website.
Carefully plan the new site structure
Will you be keeping the same site structure, or will you be changing it? It is very important to know the site structure before you start working on the redesign. If you are switching over from a static HTML website to one that is running on WordPress, then you will need to take care of the URLs to make sure that any redesigned pages from the old website can still be found.
Set up your 301 Redirects
Redesigning a website can be tricky in terms of making sure that any old pages can still be found with the new site structure. The best way of doing this is to use 301 redirects. If you are using WordPress there are a number of plugins you can install to do this. If you are hand coding the site, then you’ll need to add these redirects into the .htaccess file.
When it comes to planning the new design of the website, you must make sure that it has a responsive template, which means that it will work on all types of devices, from desktop computers down to mobile phones. Mobile users make up the largest portion of internet users, so it is vital that a redesigned site works on all mobile devices.
Check the speed of the website
No one likes a website that takes forever to load. You will want to try and keep the loading time down to a couple of seconds. There are lots of ways that you can help improve the loading time of a website. Proper image optimization is one of the most important. You can also add a plugin for caching if using WordPress, or add a few lines of cache code to your .htaccess file. Tools such as Google Lighthouse and GTMetrix are great for checking your speeds.
Important Meta Tags
Your meta tags are a very important aspect of good SEO, and you’ll want to make sure that your title tags are both well written, and include your search terms and keywords. The title tags should be no more than 60 characters, and should be unique on each page of the website. Subsequently, the meta description tag should also be uniquely crafted and shouldn’t exceed the range of about 160 characters
You should try to make good use of the <H1> and <H2> tags on your pages. Use your main keywords in the H1 tags, and then any additional subheadings in the H2 tags. For good SEO, don’t use the exact same keyword phrases in your title and H1 tags – mix them up a little.
Good Internal Linking
One thing that a lot of people don’t really pay attention to is the internal linking on their own websites. This is of extreme importance, and is a good way to help the users of your website find relevant pages that could be of great interest.
As mentioned earlier, is it vital to have a good loading time for your pages, and properly resizing your images is a big help with this. If you use WordPress there are various plugins such as Smush that you can use for image optimization. Also, make sure to include alt tags on the images that you are uploading, but don’t go overboard and stuff them full of keywords. Be description and drop in a single relevant keyword to the image.
Are you simply updating the design of the existing website, or are you also adding or updating the content on the site? Good content is very important for a successful website, so if you see that the content on the website is very small or outdated, then you should consider either writing new content, or getting it written professionally.
Test Everything again and again
Before you relaunch the new design of the website, make sure that you have tested it thoroughly. The worst thing to happen will be to launch the site, and then discover that different sections do not function properly. Test the new website on your desktop, tablet and mobile. Make sure the menus and internal links all work. Make sure that the images are loading correctly.
Also check to make sure that you are not blocking Google or any of the other search engines from crawling your website. You’ll be surprised at the amount of times people have forgotten to unblock Google when launching a redesigned website and then wondering why the ranking has tanked and the site is nowhere to be seen.
As long as you follow the above checklist, then the transition from the old to the redesigned website should go without problems. Just make sure you have properly tested it.