Freshen Up Your Website Without Sacrificing SEO
Has your business website lost some of the sparkle it had when it was brand new years ago? Maybe its performance has lowered over time, or your current content feels stale. A site-wide redesign can keep your website attracting customers, but there's a catch: some redesigns can hurt SEO.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is essential for helping customers find you in internet searches by increasing your chances of ranking high in search engine results (like Google). If you've had your website for a while and already have good SEO, making big changes can actually make it harder for search engines and human users to find your pages. However, a carefully planned redesign can preserve the credibility your website has already earned while improving how it looks and performs.
Let's look at the reasons, risks, and rewards behind website redesigns:
Reasons to Consider a Redesign
First, let's talk about what a redesign actually is. A redesign is more comprehensive than a refresh. In a refresh, you might make small changes to your website as needed. A redesign is a big project that requires careful planning. A redesign may involve large-scale changes to content, visuals, site structure, and code.
There are many reasons why businesses choose to redesign their websites. Here are some goals a website redesign can achieve:
● Keep up with technology changes and best practices
● Make the site simpler to navigate
● Makeover the site's visual appearance
● Refresh or reorganize content
Your website reflects on your business. If it seems outdated and hard to work with, visitors might think your business is the same way. Here's an exercise that can help you assess your website. Pretend you're visiting as a potential customer for the first time, and think about these questions:
● Do your website pages, images, and videos load slowly?
● Is your website hard to use on a mobile device like a smartphone?
● Does your website fail accessibility tests?
● Is it hard for users to find what they're looking for?
● Is your site navigation too complicated?
● Does your website look old and tired compared to your competitors’?
● Does your visual appearance reflect poorly on your business?
● Are some of your pages irrelevant?
● Is your content outdated?
● Is important content hard to find?
If you answered 'yes' to a lot of the questions above, it might be time to consider a redesign.
How Redesigns Can Risk Hurting SEO
During a redesign, pages on your website move and get deleted or combined. Let's say one of your blog posts is very popular and gets a lot of organic traffic in searches. Other people have linked to this blog post and shared it at its current URL. If you move this page and its URL changes, those backlinks won't work anymore, resulting in an error message. While reorganizing pages and refreshing content may be the right move for your website long term, you risk having to rebuild your authority with users and search engines. The solution: Preserve existing links and authority by using URL redirects to match old URLs with new ones.
Another potential problem is that search engines like Google rely on sitemaps to allow their crawler bots to discover and understand your website. If that sitemap is incorrect, your website could get ignored and left out of search engine rankings. The solution: Make sure your XML sitemap (a file that lists your website's pages) is up to date.
A final risk is broken links-both to your website and on it. You don't want visitors' first impression of your business to be a website that doesn't work correctly. The solution: Test your website thoroughly after your redesign to ensure this doesn't happen.
Rewards of a Thoughtful Redesign
Here's the good news: a redesign that's done carefully and well can actually boost your SEO rankings instead of lowering them.
Freshening the look and function of your website can improve user experience, meet the expectations of your target audience, and represent your business well. Fresh content and logical site navigation can improve your ranking on search engines. And faster load times, mobile-friendliness, and accessibility can improve key metrics, further increasing SEO as your site attracts and keeps organic traffic.
The benefits of a well-executed redesign outweigh the risks if the redesign is done in a way that mitigates those risks and preserves your existing SEO.
If you're a current CIS Agency client who's ready to freshen up your website, we're happy to offer a complete redesign at a discounted rate. Don't worry--we'll make sure you don't lose out on SEO and end up with a website that matches current trends and best practices.