Having a structured and attractive website is one of the effective marketing strategies that can bring high ROI for your business. If your website effectively attracts more users and brings more sales through conversions, then there is no need to redesign it. However, redesigning your website plays an inevitable role in branding, improving conversions, generating valid leads, and more.
This checklist can help you understand the important points to note by your management, design, development, and SEO team to make sure all the crucial details are taken care of before making your website live.
Why Website Redesigning/Restructuring?
One of the important aspects that you need to consider while doing the website restructuring is the structure and navigation path. If the visitor cannot figure out what to do and where to next when he/she enters your website, obviously they will exit from your website causing a huge bounce rate. Also, the structure and the navigation path of your website have a significant impact on conversions and sales. A properly structured website is beneficial in diverse aspects. So restructuring or redesigning the website is a good idea if your current website has poor navigation features and URL structure.
- Chances are high to get your website ranked on the top of search engines if you have a finely structured website. Google recognizes the authority of your web content and automatically fetches the most relevant page with quality content to the top of the search results based on the information it obtained from the content hierarchy.
- A website with proper navigation menus helps visitors easily access the page they’re looking for. The higher the number of visitors who land on your website, the greater the conversion rate will be.
- When it comes to the implementation of different schemas, adding different categories with separate content and sections is beneficial. That is different types of pages such as reviews, events, articles, and products require different Schema implementations, helping the website rank better.
Apart from these points, proper structuring of your website can bring more advantages for our online business. Now, let’s talk about the checklist and important points to consider while redesigning/restructuring a website.
Points to Note While Redesigning a Website
More than just giving your website a new appearance, redesigning will be a major shift, sometimes risky, while considering the traffic, ranking, and authority of the website. If you have already decided to redesign your website, know the strength and weaknesses of the current website to make the restructuring a beneficial one. Since it involves a good sum of cost, time, and effort, make sure that you are going in the right direction. Even a trivial mistake can cause fatal damages in terms of website ranking and traffic that you already achieved.
This article outlines the checklists to consider while restructuring your high-traffic website which ranks pretty well on Google. So, take some time to read the given below points that you need to take care of while redesigning your website to ensure everything ends up well.
Avoid your Peak Time
This point is for those who have not yet decided to go on with the website restructuring. If it’s the peak time of your business, then let’s hold it on for some more time. Will until the time is safe. When your newly restructured website goes live, there will be some fluctuations in the ranking and traffic of course. Sometimes, it may even take weeks to get back your old traffic. So avoid the peak time of your business that receives high traffic. For example: if you are running a travel website, avoid website restructuring during the travel seasons.
Audit your website
The website audit is an important step you need to take before starting the website restructuring. It helps to under the major issues of your website, features to change and things to be fixed. A proper website audit will help you identify the pitfalls, issues, challenges, and weaknesses of your website in driving more traffic, ranking, conversion or user-friendliness. Understand what your visitors find useful and what they don’t. You can use free website auditing tools as well as manual auditing to figure out the issues. If needed, ask an SEO expert, and then initiate website re-designing to reduce the redundant effort.
Pick the Appropriate Strategy
Choosing the right strategy will ease your website restructuring work and bring better results. Restructuring strategies vary depending on the clients and various scenarios. Pick any of the strategies that suit best for your website health.
- Do changes to the entire website altogether and move to the new structure. It’s considered the most practical strategy but involves some risk factors.
- If it is a small website with a minimal number of pages, the ideal strategy would be making changes to pages one by one to the new structure, scaling results through a progressive method.
- The next strategy involves less risk but the highest effort. Create a new website in a new structure while retaining the old website and URLs as it is, letting the old pages gradually go down from visibility.
Considering your website traffic and risk factors, you can decide which strategy to choose. The slow migration process works well for clients who want a risk-free restructuring. Clients who own high-traffic websites can retain their old website while building a new website with a new URL structure.
It is crucial to keep responsiveness a focal point of your website revamping efforts. While restructuring a website, you should choose a responsive design that changes in response to the device used to view the website. With a responsive design, the Text, Layout, image scaling, and Ad placement shift for smooth visibility on various devices such as desktops, smartphones, and tablet screens. Since more and more people are using mobile phones for data search and other online activities, it is important to capture and retain the mobile audience. So, find a better responsive design solution that works for your consumer base.
Pick the best structure
While restructuring your website, make sure that you adopt the best structure. Since this is a major change that happens to a website, you should be very attentive in terms of the URL structure, UI, navigation, content placements, and everything that affects the look and functionality of the website. Design the website wireframe before all development activities and discuss it with your web developer, design team, and SEO expert before starting the restructuring work. As the restructuring involves some risks, you need to ensure that your team has enough time to dedicate to this process. Consider a time that your team has no other priority works so that they can involve completely to fix the issue in case any issues arise.
When you restructure your old website, the URL also changes. Hence we recommend implementing 301-redirection from all the old URLs to their corresponding new pages. By providing 301-redirection, you are informing the search engines to transfer the ranking of the old URLs to the respective new URLs and not to lose the traffic. Create a custom 404 error page for permanently deleted pages. This is one of the most important tasks that need to be completed while doing website restructuring.
Analyse Internal Links
One important step that you should never miss before the website restructuring is the analysis of Google Search Console. Go to your Google Search Console account and analyse the most performing pages and most liked pages. Retaining those high-performing pages is a wise decision not to lose your website traffic while restructuring. Export all your internal links and keep the list to make sure that you didn’t miss including them on the new website. If you changed any of the URLs, give 301 redirections to the respective new URLs when the website goes live.
Keep a backup of the old website
Keep a backup of the old website for future reference while doing the website restructuring. Even after the new website goes live, you can refer to this copy of the old website to review the previous version in case needed. You can retain the backup copy as a subdomain. However, don’t forget to use the no-index directive in robots.txt to block this old copy from getting indexed on search engines. If possible add a no-index tag on all individual pages of the old website.
XML Sitemap Implementation
A sitemap is very much important for a website, especially for a new website to indicate Google about all your pages to be crawled and indexed easily. Once your website goes live, you need to add sitemap files with relevant pages. For dynamic pages, which are updated frequently with several pages like blogs, product listings etc, the sitemap can be implemented programmatically [dynamic sitemaps] to include all the new pages you are adding to the site. By doing this, you don’t have to add the new URLs every time on the sitemap file.
Don’t leave your new website unoptimized while going it live. Once you have redesigned the whole website and replaced all elements, make sure that you have optimized the pages with proper meta titles, descriptions and keywords. Also, make sure that internal links to relevant pages are retained while revamping the website.
Websites that have great domain age might have acquired a lot of backlinks over some time. Also, if your SEO team has invested pretty good effort in off-page activities and backlink building, your website might have got a good number of backlinks. In such a scenario, it’s better to change the old backlinks to your website manually. Even though have you already implemented 301 redirections on your website, it is not a fool-proof technique. Losing the old backlinks to your website may increase the chance of losing your website’s ranking and traffic. Better get the old external links changed to the corresponding URLs. Contact the webmasters of your backlink sites and request them to replace the old URLs with the corresponding new URLs of your site.
Test Your New Website
Testing should be a regular practice for any website. It is always recommended to test your new website before it goes live, after launch, and each month to make small optimization changes and to make sure that your website doesn’t have any glitches or missing elements. Website testing helps your design and development team to quickly fix potential issues and bugs upon the launch. Make sure your website gives users an easy way to report the errors to your team. Also, track the user’s behaviours on your new site, thereby understanding where you’re losing visitors and making changes.
Website Content Migration – Checklist
- While transferring your web content, make sure that you don’t change the URL restructure of the pages.
- If are changing the URL structure, provide 301 redirections to the most relevant corresponding URLs to protect the SEO values that your existing page has already attained
- Use a custom 404 page for the permanently deleted pages with no similar pages.
- Always make sure that your website has only one active version [preferably HTTPS]. All other versions of the website should redirect to the actual variant.
- While doing the migration activity, make sure that a backup of the old site is retained for future reference. Don’t forget to add a no-index tag in the robots.txt file. If possible add the no-index tag separately on all pages.
- Make sure that the content/URL is not duplicated.
- Confirm that the images added to the new website are optimized with proper Alt tags
- Add proper XML sitemap and robot.txt files to the website.
- Test in mobile and multiple Browsers and see how your site looks in Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari etc.
- Verify your website’s Google Analytics & Google Tag Manager are implemented correctly on the new site as well.
- Relevant meta tags should be added to all pages. Better avoid changes on the high-ranking pages of your website.
- Your content should have proper heading tags with the primary focus keyword in the H1 tag.
- Update internal links to relevant inner pages
- Before making your website live, verify that all the lead forms and contact forms are working perfectly.
- All the pages should have correct canonical URLs to prevent indexing of duplicate content pages by specifying the “preferred” version of a web page.
- Test and confirm the mobile view of pages are fine with no broken links.
- Do speed testing to confirm your website is loading pretty fast.
- Make sure that your Favicon is shown on the website.
- After migration, test your site to ensure that all the new URLs are indexed on Google and are working properly without any internal redirects. Check using https://httpstatus.io/ to know the status codes of the URLs
The Bottom Line
If you planning to change the hosting of your website, then this is the right time. Buy a better hosting plan and move your new website to the new hosting. While restructuring your website, you must consider all the above-mentioned factors as it is a risky action in the lifetime of your website. If you are not an expert in handling these kinds of activities from an SEO perspective, it is better to hire an SEO consultant or a digital marketing agency to execute this. A digital marketing agency with an expert design and development team can execute the website restructuring activities, retaining all the essential aspects of your website traffic and ranking.