A new article on Search Engine Journal says that redesigning or migrating your website is a huge undertaking, but you can protect your valuable investment with this SEO checklist for website redesigns.
The author says website migrations that don’t account for SEO or are undertaken with hasty and/or weak plans for SEO can be disastrous. Here, you’ll find important pre-launch and post-launch steps to ensure that SEO is prioritized in your relaunch so you can avoid disaster and enjoy the best possible outcomes for your business:
Think about what it is you’re hoping to accomplish with this investment in reimagining your website. Whatever else you hope to gain, you definitely want to protect the value and equity your site has built up over time. You don’t want to lose current rankings, link value, or traffic — and you don’t want to spend months to recover or rebuild them, either.
At launch time, follow along with the go-live checklist and perform any possible quality control checks of the work you have done on the staging site to date. Don’t give the go-ahead for launch if any of your on-page work or redirects are not in place or tested. It is much easier to slightly delay launch than to undo damage later or – exponentially worse – to have to roll back to the old website (ouch).
- Check Redirects: Your first step is to go back to your redirect file, old sitemap, and old site crawl to test and ensure that all old site URLs perform 301 redirects to new site URLs, as you intended.
- Dev-to-Live Audit: Make sure that all pages and specific on-page optimization carried over from the dev site to the live site. This is particularly important for websites with a lot of dynamic content, as sometimes databases and tables get missed in the migration.
- Code & Performance Validation: Don’t assume that the live website will perform the same as the staging site did. Run the homepage and key pages through the mobile-friendly testing tool or Lighthouse audits to ensure the site achieves passing grades.
- Submit XML Sitemaps: Once you are satisfied with your redirects working properly and the implementation of SEO on the live site, it is time to submit the XML sitemap. Ensure that the dynamic sitemap includes the desired full set of destination URLs.If you are using a static sitemap, generate a new one now, audit it, and submit it.
- Monitoring: It feels good to be done with the hard work involved in SEO for the relaunch and the migration overall. Now, it’s important to shift your mindset to a monitoring phase. For the next 1-2 months, closely monitor Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools to watch for reported 404 errors, crawl errors, and any HTML on-page issues detected. Tackle these quickly.
- Ongoing SEO: Remember that SEO is not a one-time thing. Once the dust has settled and the monitoring phase is in motion, you can go back to your original plan and goals and measure the performance of the new site.