Sometimes, during the evolution of an online site, there comes a time when you want to rebuild. Perhaps you are expanding your online stock. On the other hand, maybe you want to move in a new direction. Regardless of the reason, when it comes to web design, rebuilding happens. Whether your site is popular or not, you might worry about losing your current ranking. Below, the experts at 51 Blocks provide tips on how to rebuild while still preserving your ranking.
Step One: Establish Your Current Ranking
Whether your site does well or not, determining your current rank is important. After all, some people work hard to establish their current search engine optimization (SEO) rank. Some, however, get lucky and stumble on it! Google Analytics is a great tool to start with if you want to do this yourself. This tool will point out which keywords are bringing in website traffic for you.
Establishing your current rank does two things. It tells you what your most important keywords are. Perhaps more important, it tells you whether you rank is worth the work it takes to save it. After all, if you rank poorly, it might be better to just start from scratch.
Step Two: Establish Your Link Structure and Meta Descriptions
If you are new to SEO and rankings, “link structure” and “meta descriptions” may sound like a foreign language. (The experts at 51 Blocks may understand these phrases now, but like you, we were once new to this as well.) To help make this task easier, it helps to start with a spreadsheet.
Organization Is Key
Determine the current overall structure of your website. List each page of your website down one column of your spreadsheet. This should include Home, About, Services, and any other pages your site currently maps to.
Retain Relevant Content
This section applies to high-ranking content. It stands to reason that if you are already ranking number one for a specific keyword on one of your pages, leaving the content as it is important. Any changes stand a chance of reducing your ranking at this point.
Preserve the Web Design Architecture
Site architecture should be preserved where possible. Why? Maintaining this structure is your best chance to retain your ranking. This includes both your top-level site hierarchy and linking structure. In most cases, you can make dramatic design updates while leaving the site architecture alone. (Need help accomplishing this? Hiring a white label partner like 51 Blocks can ensure your webpage keeps its ranking while we incorporate your design updates.)
Redirect Where Needed
Remember that spreadsheet we started with? In the rows stemming from each page, you should create a list of links. When your content interlinks to itself, it is important to maintain these links. If any of your URLs have changed, you will need to update the links from your other pages. (If you use WordPress, the Redirection plugin can help you easily identify and replace these links!)
Maintain Meta Descriptions
Have you ever noticed blue titles on websites? The ones with little descriptions under them? These are referred to as “meta descriptions”. Webmasters should be able to locate these descriptions on each of your webpages. (If you fail to define them yourself, Google does it for you based on your content.) Whether you identified your meta descriptions or Google did, if you rank well, you want to keep them.
Step Three: Add Google Tools
Often, experts recommend you add two very important Google tools before you transfer your site. Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools can help ensure you do not lose any of your current data. They also help ensure your website is properly indexed.
Step Four: Monitor
It is important to always remember that SEO is constantly evolving. This means that you should continue to monitor your site for SEO ranking. For the first several weeks, you will want to monitor your site to ensure you do not lose your current SEO ranking. However, continually researching SEO and keywords can help your site ranking grow.
Things to Avoid
Most websites are not constructed live. They are built on a “staging site”. This site helps the developer create the content without live streaming it. (This helps preserve your ranking too! Do not develop your site on a live webpage if you want to preserve your SEO ranking!) In WordPress, you want to make sure you uncheck the “discourage search engines from indexing this site” button. WordPress adds this feature to prevent your staging site from accidental release.
Regardless of your host, you will want to thoroughly check your site once you go live. This includes checking every link on each page. Redirects should take you to the new associated webpage. Reviewing these links will help you catch any stray 404 errors early.
51 Blocks Can Help
As with most things in life, a website redesign is meant to improve your site. SEO rankings can be easily damaged if the redesign is not carefully coordinated. While you can redesign yourself, hiring a white label professional like 51 Blocks can reduce errors and give you peace of mind. Save yourself time, SEO ranking, and stress and contact 51 Blocks today to find out how we can help with your web design strategy.