A website redesign can ruin SEO and destroy your position on Google Search if you do not do the redesign properly. It is important to pay attention to the situation before and after the redesign, monitor and analyze the results. If the visits start to drop after the redesign, it means that the redesign does not work or something is not working properly.
Before and during the redesign
Save everything that can be used later. That include files (images, documents, articles), databases (MySQL database, newsletter database, phone number database) and all without which your job can not work properly. Here’s what usually you need to do:
Before you start with the redesign – backup everything
Backup is the basic and simplest action that can solve every problem when it comes to the breaking point. Although this is the easiest to do, many people forget it or feel that they do not need a backup. Before you start with a redesign on the site, make a backup file of the site and database that the site uses. Adriahost makes weekly backup of hosting accounts, so if you do not have your backup, you can count on this option.
During the redesign, it is advisable to make a daily backup, so if you destroy something on the sixth day, you can always return to the backup from the fifth day when everything worked correctly.
Copy all URLs, you will need it later
If you do not change page URLs (or posts) when creating a new site, then you do not have to record. But, if you create a new website with new addresses (links of the pages and posts), you will also need to redirect old addresses to new addresses.
For example, the old page had the address your-web-site.com/p4345363 and this was the contact page, on the new site you decided to make it a little more meaningful, so you put the site’s contact address as your-web-site.com/contact-products-flowers. Here you will need to set up “301” redirects from your-web-site.com/p4345363 to your-web-site.com/contact-products-flowers.
In this way, people who have recorded the old page address, Google, which has an indexed old address and did not index the new one yet, posts on social networks leading to the old address will automatically be forwarded to the new address. Also, if you delete a page, make a redirection of that address to a related page or contact page.
Pay attention to Google indexing of a site that is just being made
Someone makes a new site with a new design in the subdirectory of the existing one and it looks like this old-site.com/new-site, somebody does it in the subdomain, and it looks like this new-site.old-site.com, someone else leases even a new domain for programming purposes only, for example, here-we-test.com and create a new website. All together, when you finish a new website, replace the old version of the site with the new final version.
Whatever you do, exclude the possibility that Google will index that version of the site in development. Otherwise, you can make “noise” in SEO results, duplicate content, and cause problems.
After the redesign
Here you need to be careful because the new site with a new design should finish the job that the old site did, and even be better than the old one.
Change the path of the addresses in the new site’s scripts
You have created a site on your computer locally or on another domain (subdomain, subdirectory…). Such website has its address in its scripts (and database). For example, the site created on the computer has an addresshttp://localhost, the site that you created in a subdirectory of a domain has the address of that sub-directory.
In order for such a website to work where it is needed, when the time comes for this site to become active, it is necessary to change all the addresses in the site and database scripts from the address on which the new site was created to the address on which the site will work. If you use WordPress, you can see the official manual for changing the site’s address here.
Check the functionality of all plugins and complete website functionality
Once you have set up a new site publicly, you need to make sure everything is working. This check includes plugins, whether they are working and whether something should be changed regarding the address (link, if entered manually in plugin settings), check the functionality of the theme that the site uses, as well as the functionality of the contact form, the menus, whether the links from the site open correct pages. If you are using a newsletter plugin, test it.
In addition, the site is new, more beautiful and more modern than the previous one, it is extremely important that everything works. If your business is such that people often contact you through the contact form, they will not be happy if they see a note saying “something happened, try later” when sending a message from your contact page.
Enable search engines to see your new site
If you’ve been working on a new site in WordPress, you probably checked the option “Discourse search engines from indexing this site” so that search engines do not see the new site while it’s under construction.
Now, when this same new site is publicly available, remember to clear this option in order for browsers to see your site. Also, check the plugins that are in charge of SEO, check if the sitemap is turned on and set up correctly.
Google your site and read if the search results show what needs to be shown.
Check the texts, images, pages
Now the new site is publicly seen and at first glance, it seems that everything works. Check how the content is displayed on the new site. SEO will not be good if the page formatting is corrupted or images are “stubble”.
Test all of that on your phone and tablet
Do not forget that Google Speed Update affects the ranking of the site in mobile searches. Google your site over the phone or tablet and check that everything in the search results is all right. Does the site open quickly on the phone?
Keep in mind that you do not have to turn off the traditional test access, so take your phone, tablet and ask your colleagues to do the same, test everything you see on the site. Report errors to the designer or developer.
Take a thorough look at Google Search Console
Google Search Console provides enough useful information if something is wrong. Of course, if your site is signed up for this Google service. Follow everything and carefully analyze what’s going on. If you need to re-register sitemap, do it.
Google Search Console provides enough information on all the issues that arise when Google attempts to index the site so you can follow it well.
Track the possible loss of visits with Google Analytics
Write down the exact date when the new site was put into operation. Follow the number of visits and compare with the visits you had on the old site. If the number of visits falls, this usually means that something does not work on the site. If the number of visits grows, that means the new site is doing its job. In both cases, do not react to the first look and wait with the impressions to settle.
We can help in this part of the website redesign
If you have created a site on a computer or other hosting and want to use hosting with us, we can help when the migration of a new site is in question. Also, if you have set up a site by yourself and something is not working well, we can advise you about everything we have already encountered, so feel free to contact us. We can even make a new website for you.