Unless you know the ins and outs of website design, the idea of updating your website can be terrifying – especially when you start to hear horror stories about how updated websites lose their search engine rankings.
(Sorry if you haven’t heard any of those horror stories and I just scared you more.)
So, now you face a dilemma: do you improve your established website or hold on to your current search engine rankings?
Actually, with some extra work at the beginning, a redesigned site can improve your rankings.
I am now assuming that:
- You have decided to update your site.
- You are hiring someone to do the actual work.
- You want to be able to have intelligent conversations with that person you hired even when you have no idea of what’s going on!
One of my favorite sources of blog inspiration is SearchEngineWatch.com. They recently put out an article titled 5 Steps to Execute a Site Redesign Without Compromising SEO that I found very informative. However, I think your average website owner would find it a little heavy in the tech‑ese. So, here’s a simplified (notice, I did not say “simple”) version so that you can start those intelligent conversations with your designer.
- Evaluate Your Current SEO: If you do not currently have an “SEO strategy,” now would be a good time to develop one. The professional you hired will be able to tell you what parts of your site currently attract visitors, as well as what parts are not so popular.
- Keep the Same URL Structure: Each page of your website has a different address. To maintain the links other people have made to your content, you want to keep those addresses the same. With a redesign, some URLs will have to change. For those, make sure your designer puts in a redirect from each old address to the new.
- Optimize: This is where you implement the strategy you created in the first step. Make your content properly reflect you, your business, and your target market.
- Have HTML and XML Sitemaps: DON’T PANIC! Your designer will know what I just said. A sitemap is a file that spells out where everything is. When you submit a sitemap to search engines, it helps them update your content in their searches.
- Track, Evaluate, Implement: The internet is dynamic. Both when it comes to content and the rules for finding content. Pay attention to what works, what doesn’t, and what you can improve. Then get rid of what doesn’t work and improve the things you can.