Site Relaunches and SEO
When a website is redesigned, search engine optimisation (SEO) is a vital component of the process, both before and after the relaunch. A site cannot survive such a fundamental change and retain its old rankings, traffic and conversions without effective SEO. It just doesn’t happen.
So what can you expect from relaunching your newly redesigned website and how does SEO fit into the process? Well, in most cases you will either see a rise in organic traffic or a fall. Let’s look at both of these in turn.
A rise in organic traffic after relaunch
Every website owner wants to see an immediate rise in traffic to their redesigned website, which is something that quite often happens. The problem is that this is usually a temporary increase, which after about a week settles down to a more comfortable baseline.
If optimised correctly, this level should be greater than previous and over the next few weeks, as your website is indexed and your new URLs are crawled, you will start to see a gradual growth in traffic.
A fall in organic traffic following relaunch
Again, this is usually only a temporary glitch and should rise to your previous levels or greater within a few weeks. It can easily take up to 4 weeks for your site to be deeply crawled and indexed, particularly if you have 100s of pages.
Here are a few check-ups you can do to make sure you maintain SEO for your redesigned website:
- Make sure all your 301 redirects are in place. This is because the search engines need to know that your page URLs have changed. Direct visitors who use your sites URL to access your website also need to be redirected. If you don’t have all of your pages and sub-domains redirected, visitors will be faced with a 404 error and if Google comes face to face with a 404 error – it doesn’t go looking for your pages, it just assumes they no longer exist and you lose your rankings and traffic.
- Make sure all of your SEO settings have been imported from the old site to the new site. These include your title tags and Meta descriptions, as without these you are really behind the eight ball as far as rankings and traffic are concerned.
- Check that your new sitemap has been submitted to Google and ensure that all indexing restrictions have been removed (these prevented your site being crawled during its redesign).
- Use your analytics and make sure that Google is indexing your site and keep an eye open for any 404 errors – fix them immediately.
- Another tip is to check the amount of traffic to specific landing pages and the referring keywords, before and after your launch. This helps to spot any underperforming pages, which you can fix up quickly.
- If your analytics indicates a large drop in traffic, just check if your tracking codes are on all of your pages. If some pages have been missed and they performed well on the old site, this is most probably the reason that your traffic appears down – just embed your tracking codes on all of your pages.
- Don’t forget to change your conversion URLs and update your analytics package or else your results will be skewed.
Prior to relaunch, a redesigned website needs to be expertly optimised for search engines. Post launch, such a site will, over the next 4 weeks, begin to gain ground and surpass previous rankings, traffic and conversions. An un-optimised, website redesign on the other hand, is highly likely to see a dramatic drop in traffic post relaunch and possibly never recover from such a mortal injury.
Co-founder of Cornerstone and web junkie, Michael knows just how to diagnose your online problems and remedy the issue. An online enthusiast who believes in technology as an enabler of growth, Michael worries about all the details so you don't have to.