Websites are always evolving and growing with new features, designs and functionality. Often websites are re-designed and re-developed from scratch and then relaunched to replace the older and outdated existing website.
These existing websites have SEO value. In other words over time and through various aspects, the website starts to rank for certain keywords or key phrases in search engines such as Google. This is really valuable as this generates traffic to your website which ultimately can lead to brand exposure, sales and new business enquiries.
Ensuring that your new website can retain the SEO value (from the existing website) is highly important. Yet we find that many website owners, web designers and web developers overlook this hugely important fact. Even more worrisome is that they are not even aware that there is a risk of the loss of website traffic. It is often when the new website is launched and traffic drops tremendously that they realise that there is a huge problem, which unfortunately is too late in most cases as it will take ages to get the website to improve its SEO ranking.
Luckily there are methods that can be followed to ensure that your website retains it’s SEO rankings when your new website is launched.
HOW CAN WE RETAIN EXISTING SEO RANKINGS?
There are a couple of important SEO factors to keep in mind when redeveloping your website. In some cases, even if your website was not optimised properly the first time around, there is still history of this in the SERP (Search Engine Results Pages). To keep your rankings intact, you need to ensure the following is done:
1. OLD VS NEW URLS
With the development of any new website, the chances of keeping all URLs uniform are slim. With a website revamp, it is recommended to make your URLs as SEO friendly as possible (having keywords associated with the products or services within the URL is recommended).
For example, if the old URLs looked like:
At a quick glance, the old URL is SEO friendly, however, it can be improved by shortening the URL, which is a best practice SEO technique for example: www.clientwebsite.com/ladies-black-high-heels
The new URL string contains descriptive keywords which are easily understandable to any user and it does not contain any special characters or numbers.
SEO friendly URLs serve three main purposes:
1. It helps search engines read your URLs correctly.
2. It helps with your overall ranking, as SEO friendly URLs are one of many ranking factors search engines such as Google use to rate your website.
3. Lastly but most importantly, an SEO friendly URL also helps users to identify what your page is about.
2. 301 REDIRECTS
A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect from one URL to another. 301 redirects site visitors and search engines to a different URL than the one they originally typed into their browser or selected from a search engine results page or from an outdated link. These redirects also link various URLs under one umbrella so search engines rank all of the addresses based on the domain authority from inbound links.
Let’s put this it into practice. Below are two different URLs that take you to the same site. That’s thanks to a 301 redirect. That way, when people link to Domain – Black Leather Shoes using either URL, the URL we direct the traffic to will retain the search engine authority associated with inbound links to either URL.
If you do not have a 301 redirect the visitor will see a page that doesn’t exist. If you do not implement a 301 redirect you will end up with a list of 404 error pages (non-existent pages) and this could possibly affect your ranking and user experience.
Old URL: https://domain.com/shoes/black-leather
New URL: https://domain.com/mens/black-leather-shoes
3. XML SITEMAP RE-CREATION AND SUBMISSION TO GOOGLE SEARCH CONSOL.
With any new website development, it is essential to create a new XML sitemap and submitting the XML sitemap to Google, through the Google Search Console, once the website is ready to go live.
An XML sitemap allows search engines like Google, to access all your important pages within your website.
Creating and submitting an XML sitemap is considered best practice in SEO and is also considered one of many important SEO factors that help your website rank better.
4. MOBILE-FRIENDLY DESIGN
Designing an online experience for a mobile friendly website is the first approach taken before designing it for a desktop. Mobile internet usage has surpassed desktop usage in 2016 and Google has confirmed that they will index the mobile version of your website.
5. SECURE WEBSITE HOSTING
All websites should change from HTTP to HTTPS. This is done by upgrading your hosting to secure / encrypted hosting. HTTPS is essential for ensuring a safe and secure experience for users of a website, with the data that is sent and received between the website and the server being encrypted. Google considers site security to be a ranking signal and will favour websites with HTTPS.
7. PAGE SPEED
DON’T LOSE YOUR VALUABLE SEO RANKING AND VALUE
Any website is useless without traffic, therefore if you are considering launching a new website, ensure you retain your existing SEO rankings and source of traffic, through the various techniques and factors mentioned above. Don’t fall victim to the massive loss of traffic because you didn’t follow this best practice.