The key to successfully launching a new website is to connect all the teams involved, early in the process! This includes graphic designers, developers, and your SEO team. While this requires a lot of teamwork and coordination upfront, a collaborative site design will be much more cost-effective, and less time-consuming, than if teams are isolated and working in linear fashion.
It can be daunting to expose the health of your website traffic and your conversion rate to several teams all at once. Make sure you have very clear, concrete goals for your website redesign, like:
- Optimize conversion rate to generate more leads
- Improve user experience and update for mobile trends
- Increase organic traffic
Below we’ll share some tips, particularly on the SEO side of things, for managing a successful website redesign and maintaining your overall momentum.
Open the lines of communication between your in-house team, your developers, and your SEO team. Make sure the SEO team and developers are familiar with each other before work begins. Also, consider using a project management tool, like Basecamp, to organize all communication related to the site design.
Make sure your SEO team gives lots of guidance to the developers, in order to maintain you current rankings and visibility in search results. That guidance should include:
- Assess the new URL structure. Determine whether it’s needed based on your keyword targets.
- Ensure redirects. If you move to https:// or otherwise change your URLs, your old site needs to point to the new site.
- Update your keyword universe. Determine if you need to add new landing pages or retarget any sections.
- Check site speed. Making relevant technical changes during a re-design will spare you major headaches after.
As early in the process as possible, have your SEO team perform an audit of your current site and establish a punch list of items to consider for the new site. Once that’s been communicated, SEOs can move to the background and work on:
- Additional keyword research
- Development of new pages
- Ongoing link building campaigns
It’s important that your teams establish a last date for changes to be made, before the site goes into its final stages and launches. This way your SEO team can budget time for a final sweep of the test site, to make sure everything is intact and you won’t experience a severe drop in rankings, traffic or leads.
You’ll want to make sure these guidelines are addressed, for after the launch:
- What will the development team’s availability be like for bug fixes, last minute questions, etc.?
- What’s the plan for your SEO team to monitor the new site?
- Who is responsible for post-launch to-dos and project management?
Important reminder: SEO improvements are rarely immediate, and the length of time it takes to see results depends on how much of an update you just went though. The day your new site goes live, your SEO team should be on standby to run a quick assessment of the site and take care of little things that pop up, like:
- Making sure the site is being crawled and indexed properly
- Ensuring robots.txt was removed
- Submitting the new sitemap and robots.txt to Google Search Console
- Making an annotation in your Google Analytics account
- Changing the goal URLs in Google Analytics
Yes, there’s a lot to consider when trying to maintain SEO momentum through a website redesign. We believe the most important thing you can do is involve all relevant players early in the process. It may take a highly coordinated effort to establish a site that functions well, looks good, and connects you with your customers, but it’ll all be worth it if you can pull it off.
About the Author:
George Zlatin is lead SEO and Co-founder of Digital Third Coast, a search engine marketing firm based in Chicago. George has over 10 years of experience in the SEO space and has managed or overseen SEO campaigns at Digital Third Coast for approximately two hundred clients. Feel free to connect with Digital Third Coast on Twitter or Facebook.