How to Avoid SEO Disaster During a Website Redesign

The phrase “catastrophe” in all probability acquired your consideration and on this case, it’s not in the slightest degree hyperbolic.

Website migrations that don’t account for SEO or are undertaken with hasty and/or weak plans for SEO could be disastrous.

If you’re doing a web site refresh, migration, and/or relaunch, you doubtless have strong causes for doing it and expectations for enchancment in particular areas like UX, model notion, and conversion targets.

SEO is crucial for serving to you obtain all the above.

In this column, you’ll discover necessary pre-launch and post-launch steps to be sure that SEO is prioritized in your relaunch so you possibly can keep away from catastrophe and revel in the very best outcomes for your corporation.

Work via this piece as a guidelines as you propose and execute your web site redesign.


Before Migration

Think about what it’s you’re hoping to accomplish with this funding in reimagining your web site.

Whatever else you hope to achieve, you positively need to defend the worth and fairness your web site has constructed up over time. You don’t need to lose present rankings, hyperlink worth, or visitors — and also you don’t need to spend months to recuperate or rebuild them, both.


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On prime of that, you doubtless additionally need to enhance natural search efficiency.

Goals & Project Plan

There are doubtless some fairly compelling the reason why you might be embarking on a web site redesign.

Those may very well be tied to:

  • Business use-cases.
  • User expertise enhancements.
  • Marketing initiatives.
  • SEO enhancements.

Setting acceptable targets is a key facet of guaranteeing the venture’s success.

Establish your baseline and benchmarks, as you’ll need to have the ability to verify enhancements and ROI on the venture.

Most internet tasks comply with a particular plan or agile methodology. This plan is usually managed by the venture proprietor whether or not they’re in an account service, venture administration, product, IT, advertising, or another aligned function.

Make certain your plan accounts for SEO at each step so that you aren’t shocked by any unintended penalties.

Content & Information Architecture

Both the context of the web site material total and sub-topic your themes are important to SEO success.


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This impacts the particular content material on the positioning and the way that content material is organized.

Changes to the data structure, sitemap, and total content material plan within the redesign can impression SEO, and guaranteeing that everybody on the venture understands how is necessary.

You need to be sure pages worthwhile to your SEO technique should not omitted from the positioning going ahead, and that the general message and theme of sections of the positioning should not diluted by the design.

Use a crawling software (e.g., Screaming Frog or DeepCrawl) to discover all pages of your web site.

Then, along with your crew, work out of your present sitemap on necessities for the brand new one. This will likely be your information via the remainder of the steps within the redesign course of for SEO.

On-page Optimization

Digging deeper to the web page degree, it’s necessary that you just keep the relevance of content material to the intent of your goal searcher.

Once you recognize what context and total structure is altering (or remaining the identical), you possibly can work to defend or proactively optimize on the web page degree for the particular components that assist with relevance. This will embody URLs, web page titles, meta descriptions, physique copy, alt textual content, and many others.

How deep are the adjustments to your structure and sitemap? This will dictate how a lot you want to give attention to the relevancy of content material to make sure you don’t lose material content material on the positioning.

Optimize your staging web site or code-base; don’t wait till post-launch to make these updates.


There’s a primary person expertise case to be made for guaranteeing that you just map out 301 redirects for all pages which can be getting new URLs and people which can be going away within the redesigned web site.

We by no means need to serve up a 404 error page to a person if we are able to keep away from it.

Search engines are okay with 404s if we hope to have content material faraway from the index. However, any hyperlink fairness you’ve will likely be misplaced if backlinks to your web site end in a 404 error.

Ensure that every one pages with hyperlinks pointing to them are (on the very least) correctly redirected, particularly should you don’t have management over guaranteeing that the hyperlinks are up to date to the brand new vacation spot web page URL.


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If you have got a giant web site, this might very nicely be probably the most time intensive and necessary a part of the redesign SEO course of.

Use the crawl that you just did earlier on your sitemap planning to decide all URLs that want to be redirected.

You can even achieve a lot of perception from Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools as to which pages the various search engines crawl on an ongoing foundation, to ensure you don’t miss any redirects.

When you have got all redirects mapped out, be sure that they’re carried out on the server degree or in a web site plug-in or utility and are prepared to go for launch.

It is troublesome to do that work after launch, because the injury has typically been finished with search engines like google and yahoo and customers getting 404 errors. Every passing minute, hour, and day equals extra misplaced alternative right here.

Even when your SEO skilled can use forensics to discover the outdated web site URLs and implement redirects, you’ve misplaced valuable time. You’ll have to take the short-term hit and hope to get again the relevancy and authority standing you had with the outdated web site.


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At Launch

At launch time, comply with together with the go-live guidelines and carry out any attainable high quality management checks of the work you have got finished on the staging web site to date.

Don’t give the go-ahead for launch if any of your on-page work or redirects should not in place or examined.

It is far simpler to barely delay launch than to undo injury later or – exponentially worse – to have to roll again to the outdated web site (ouch).


Check Redirects

Your first step is to return to your redirect file, outdated sitemap, and outdated web site crawl to check and be sure that all outdated web site URLs carry out 301 redirects to new web site URLs, as you supposed.

This is the place you possibly can catch any stray 404s and implement further redirects rapidly.

Begin by spot-checking URLs after which go deeper as time permits to work via as many aged web site URLs attainable.

Also, verify for different sneaky redirects like 302s or server strategies to guarantee you have got clear 301s.


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Dev-to-Live Audit

Make certain that every one pages and particular on-page optimization carried over from the dev web site to the dwell web site.

This is especially necessary for web sites with a lot of dynamic content material, as typically databases and tables get missed within the migration.

For instance, should you optimized all title tags on the staging web site however the database they’re in didn’t go dwell at launch, you would possibly discover lacking or default duplicate titles on each web page or on product pages, and many others.

Code & Performance Validation

Don’t assume that the dwell web site will carry out the identical because the staging web site did.

Run the homepage and key pages via the mobile-friendly testing software or Lighthouse audits to guarantee the positioning achieves passing grades.

Additionally, run page speed tools to discover potential areas of enchancment on the brand new web site. Differences in servers, internet hosting, and different masses on the manufacturing web site may cause hiccups that you just wouldn’t have discovered on the staging web site.


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Also, don’t neglect about any schema markup you have got on the positioning.

Using validation instruments to guarantee correct implementation listed here are useful in case something modified between the outdated, staging, and dwell websites and the way the various search engines render them.

Submit XML Sitemaps

Once you might be happy along with your redirects working correctly and the implementation of SEO on the dwell web site, it’s time to submit the XML sitemap.

Ensure that the dynamic sitemap contains the specified full set of vacation spot URLs.

If you might be utilizing a static sitemap, generate a new one now, audit it, and submit it.

Note that you really want to make sure that your XML sitemap file(s) are pristine. You need to have zero URLs leading to 404 errors and guarantee all URLs are the vacation spot URLs versus redirects or pages that canonical to one other model.


It feels good to be finished with the arduous work concerned in SEO for the relaunch and the migration total. Now, it’s necessary to shift your mindset to a monitoring part.


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For the following 1-2 months, carefully monitor Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools to look ahead to reported 404 errors, crawl errors, and any HTML on-page points detected. Tackle these rapidly.

Ongoing SEO

Remember that SEO just isn’t a one-time factor.

Once the mud has settled and the monitoring part is in movement, you possibly can return to your authentic plan and targets and measure the efficiency of the brand new web site.

From right here, you possibly can resume your regular ongoing optimization plan.

Summarized Steps

Here’s the brief listing of what we unpacked on this article.


  • Goals & Project Plan.
  • Content & Information Architecture.
  • On-Page Optimization.
  • Redirects.



  • Check Redirects.
  • Dev-to-Live Audit.
  • Code & Performance Validation.
  • Submit XML Sitemaps.
  • Monitoring.
  • Ongoing SEO.


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Account for some steps taking longer than deliberate or having to add some as you go. Web tasks and SEO don’t at all times go in accordance to plan!

Beyond that, ensure you take each alternative you have got to use the redesign and relaunch for efficiency enchancment to maximizing the return in your funding in your web site.

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