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Revamp Without Risk: A Guide to Redesigning your Website Minus the Loss in Ranking

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Revamp Without Risk: A Guide to Redesigning your Website Minus the Loss in Ranking

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

While change is the only constant thing in the world, it’s an undisputed fact that people are generally averse to changes, good or bad. And when it comes to redesigning your website, the same tenet applies. Yes, businesses must exercise a ton of caution when implementing changes to their virtual home. The mistakes can be costly.

THE RISKS OF A WEBSITE OVERHAUL

In 2022, a massive Facebook redesign went live. On the desktop version, most of the navigational elements and settings were moved to the left. Not everyone liked it, considering it was the first major redesign in the last 2 years.

Last year, Google introduced the latest iteration in its analytics platform, GA4. But with the removal of long-perceived core features and a complex new user interface, multiple marketers expressed disdain of the many changes. As for how many are willing to embrace the Universal Analytics replacement just yet, the jury is still out!

If you’re contemplating making strategic changes in your website this year, you might want to pay attention to the cautionary tales other brands have ignored around site redesigns and relaunches, ultimately to their peril.

NO INDEX

Before a redesigned website is launched, the codes are prepared and deployed on a different server where a copy of the live site is stored. It’s at this stage where the look, feel, and functionality of the ‘new” site are tested. To avoid being penalised in the future due to duplicate content, you have to add the “noindex” meta tag to the test server.

Adding the metatag will dissuade search engines from crawling that version of the website. In some website relaunches, the developers forget to remove the no index command prior to releasing the website in production. This is not an urgent issue immediately after the launch, but if it takes weeks before somebody removes the tag, there will have been serious negative effects like fallen rankings, lost leads, sales, and revenue.

NO REDIRECTS

URL redirects are important once you relaunch your website. If the changes involve a change in the site architecture, you need to “inform” the search engine that the pages have moved elsewhere. Otherwise, both crawlers and users might land with error messages, killing user experience and missing opportunities like leads and sales. A website that is rife with dead links negatively affects your traffic, ranking, and conversions.

Don’t forget to migrate your 301 redirects permanently.

CONTENT ISSUES

Sometimes, when developers begin coding the new website design, he or she uses placeholder text in the form of “lorem ipsum.” There are instances when a website is launched live, but the lorem ipsum text remains unreplaced or removed.

On the other hand, businesses may want to discard content from the old website version. This is fine, except if that specific content may carry some link equity from past optimisation efforts. If it gets deleted, the precious link juice can go down the drain without you even knowing it.

The best practice is to conduct a comprehensive content audit and choose which pieces of content are performing well versus those that aren’t. If Google detects a website shrinkage in a brief amount of time, it can be flagged as suspicious activity.

The fix? Use only one address per content. You can also try adding canonical tags to identify the main page among those that feature similar content.

WHEN SHOULD YOU REDESIGN?

Now that you know the common risks that come with a website overhaul, what are some legitimate reasons why you should take the first step to redesigning and relaunching your website.

  1. OLD TECHNOLOGIES

One of the most compelling reasons for a website relaunch is to abandon old and supported technologies and change it to a new or upgraded one. If your site used Java or built using Flash, those could be reasons why you needed to relaunch a website. Or it could be that a legacy technology embedded within the code is no longer supported by major browsers like Google Chrome.

  1. REBRANDING OR CHANGE OF BUSINESS MODEL

A website relaunch can be triggered by something purely visual or strategic. For example, a rebrand requires that all marketing and visual collateral of a business must align with a single, coherent brand identity. From logo to website, from PR kits to social media posts, they must all share a unified look and feel.

If the nature of the change is strategic, like a change of business model, the business may launch a new website that best showcases the new direction the organisation is heading towards. This means that old services may not be part of the new menu of services the company is currently offering.

  1. ACQUISITION OR EXPANSION

In some cases, a website may herald a sparkling new era of the organisation through a merger, acquisition, or expansion. A redesign may not be imperative, but if an organisation wants to introduce new services, or cater to different markets, they can embark on a website haul project.

To this end, the website can feature multiple languages, bigger service menu, wider product catalogues, among many others.

With all those caveats, go ahead and start implementing your website redesign roadmap. We’re excited to see the dazzling new look of your new virtual home!

Author:
Drin Priestly
Published:
Google Partner
SEO Premier is a Certified Google Partner
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