A lot of clients approach Perficient with the desire to redesign an existing website, which typically involves new site architecture. Although a fresh and improved design and architecture can positively impact user experience, navigation, search robots crawling and consequently search engine rankings, it’s important to develop an SEO migration plan that covers action items before and after the website launch.
During the Design Period
- Review your current SEO performance using Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. Capture any data that can serve as a benchmark for the new website.
- Review your on-page and off-page SEO practices. It is important to take advantage of the redesign opportunity to evaluate the content, html tags, page URLs, etc. Think of it as a fresh start.
- In an excel spreadsheet, create a table with the following information: Page Name, Current Page URL, and Description. This is the first step in planning which URLs from the old website will be redirected to the new one. This is very important to avoid losing any “link juice” your website already has (more on this later).
- Use a free tool like Open Site Explorer to review the top current backlinks of your website. Download the information and save it.
- Make sure you ask for an XML Sitemap besides the traditional sitemap. This sitemap will help search engines crawl your new website and index the webpages faster.
The Digital Essentials, Part 3
Developing a robust digital strategy is both a challenge and an opportunity. Part 3 of the Digital Essentials guide series explores five of the essential technology-driven experiences customers expect, which you may be missing or not fully utilizing.
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Right Before the Launch
- Now that the website has content, optimize the title tags, page URLs, and meta description tags. Make them very specific, relevant, and unique to the content of each webpage. Avoid having the same exact phrase on all of these. The objective should be to help both robots and humans understand what the page is about before clicking.
- Open a Google Analytics account for the new site and make sure the Google Analytics code is implemented in the new website. This will help you start tracking data as soon as the site is launched and will avoid any duplicate traffic.
- Now that you know the page URLs of the new site, go back to the table you made during step 3 and add a “new URL path” column. The objective is to figure out which old pages should be 301 redirected to the new pages based on their content. This will
- Avoid any duplicate content penalties
- Help search engines and humans understand there is a new page for the content
- Save almost all of the “link juice” or authority the old pages had.
After the Launch
- If possible, try asking the top backlinks’ sources to update the link to your site.
- The XML Sitemap should be submitted to Google Webmaster Tools.
- 301 redirects should be successfully implemented.
- Use the data you collected on step 1 as a benchmark for your new website performance.
- Start building some healthy and natural links by promoting your website through social media, blogs, press releases, etc.