So you’ve had your current website for awhile and have decided that it’s time for a refresh?
GREAT! Redesigning a website can have quite a few benefits, including boosting conversion and overcoming technical constraints from the way the old website was coded. However, if your team isn’t careful when launching the redesigned website, you can lose your hard earned Google rankings overnight!
We often work with companies that are redesigning their website to ensure that the transition from old website to new website goes smoothly- below are 2 important things we see companies often overlook.
If you’re doing a pretty serious redesign, there is a chance the the webpage addresses are going to change. While debating whether or not this is a good idea is a blog post for another day, let’s assume that this is what you’ve decided to do.
Make sure to “301 redirect” all of the old webpage addresses to their nearest equivalent on the new website. This will ensure that search engines move the SEO authority of the old webpage to the new webpage.
If you don’t redirect the pages, or you use a “302 redirect” or some other form of redirect, then the Google authority of your old webpages could literally disappear into thin (internet) air. This would cause your newly redesigned website to not get the same amount of traffic from Google rankings that the old website had before the redesigned version launched- that’s not good for anyone.
In order to share the redesigned website with your team as the project is worked on, the web design team will most likely make the website accessible online. However, if the site is accessible to the public and search engines, you could run into issues with Google thinking that you now have two websites with similar content online. This could cause a drop in Google traffic for your site as Google gets confused about which site to show to searchers.
Luckily, the solution here is pretty straight forward. You can block the website behind a password, which should block everyone including search engines (although you should still do the robots.txt method below just to be safe). Or, if you want the site accessible to the anyone that visits the link, then you can simply block search engines in the robots.txt file.
To implement the robots.txt method, simply ensure there is a robots.txt file on the server you’re using to develop the website and include the following lines of code.
*IMPORTANT- Make sure you change this on launch day, or Google will deindex your website when they encounter the robots.txt file on your main web server!
If you’re in the middle of a redesign, check with your website design team to ensure they’ve addressed the above issues. If you’re unsure, feel free to connect with us and we’ll take a look.