Change is a wonderful thing. It’s demonstrative of one’s ability to grow and adapt when faced with new technology and changing needs. It may be time to launch some huge changes on your website, but don’t get too eager just yet. If you don’t implement these changes correctly, you risk significantly damaging your current SEO standing. If you want to stay on your current successful trajectory, you’ll need to make some considerations regarding how you intend to do so.
Since this is your second go around with SEO, you’ve probably crawled your site a lot. After you redesign, you need to start the process from the ground up. URLs are inevitably going to change, and in the eyes of a search engine, this means they will have fallen off the face of the earth. The same goes for any subdomains you may have. Google needs to know where everything has moved to. Just repeat what you did when you first established your site, using the crawling tool of your choice.
In some instances, it’s better to roll out a mobile overhaul first. If Google doesn’t view you as mobile friendly, it isn’t going to keep you in good standing. More people than ever use their smartphones to access the internet, and that number is only going to grow. If you don’t utilize mobile optimization techniques, Google is going to knock you for it pretty hard. They want their top ranking sites to work across all platforms. Don’t put mobile off for later – either launch your mobile overhaul before your site overhaul, or do them both simultaneously.
Look for Duplicate Content
Check yourself before you wreck yourself. After an overhaul, you may be inadvertently hosting duplicate content – even if you’ve technically copied it from yourself. This could be flagged as black hat SEO if you aren’t careful, so you need to either remove or “noindex” pages that feature this duplicate content. Providing visitors with original content is still one of the most effective things you can do to strengthen your SEO strategy, so make sure you aren’t cutting out content altogether. It may help to have new content written that can be immediately posted in the wake of your overhaul so you don’t miss a beat.
Update or Create a Robots File
Your robots.txt file is the file that every search engine uses to get the full picture of your website. When you overhaul, it’s very likely that your URL structure is going to change. It doesn’t matter whether these changes are minor or drastic – any change that isn’t reflected in your robots.txt file will throw everything for a loop. You’ll either want to update this file to reflect your new structure or create an entirely new one. Just make sure you test it several times before your total overhaul is complete.
Don’t Forget About Titles
You need your meta data. If you aren’t carrying your old page titles and descriptions with you, you need to write new ones. As long as your previous meta descriptions and titles don’t currently exist anywhere else, you’re safe to transfer the same ones. It may be a wise move to write newer, stronger titles and descriptions. Most people forget to update these and allow them to go stale. You might want to take advantage of this opportunity to beef up your meta descriptions in particular.
Be Cautious When Switching Domains
Sometimes, an overhaul means starting over with an entirely new domain. One of the worst things you can do would be to completely pull the old domain when the new one us up and running. Keep your old domain and use 301 redirects. Google recommends doing so for at least 180 days before you allow your previous domain to completely disappear. This will keep traffic coming, and people who didn’t get the memo that you moved won’t assume you’ve ceased to exist.
No matter what you do, remember that you can’t tell Google too much. Use your webmaster tools to the fullest of their ability in order to keep Google updated during your transitional period. You won’t be penalized for overhauling your website as long as you come by all of your SEO honestly. And once you overhauled your website completely, you must focus on 7 Easy and Effective SEO Tips to give extreme boost to organic results. Here is a short explanatory video on how to boost organic results via pure SEO.
About the Author
Simone Cormack is a Communications Specialist working at eFax where she is responsible for guiding and bolstering dialogue between the company and customers. Simone is also a content expert and constantly looks for new ideas for reaching bigger audience.