Designing, building and launching a new website is exciting.
We’ve done this ourselves recently, and you can see the result of it on these very pages. But, during the process, it got us thinking.
You see, we’ve come across far too many web design projects that appear to look fantastic - on the surface. However, dig a little deeper, and it becomes clear that whoever was behind the redesign failed to take search engine optimisation (SEO) into account.
We’re not talking about deeply technical SEO, either. There are just five simple things you’ll need to do when switching to a brand-new website to ensure your Google rankings don’t take a significant hit.
Chances are, if your old website has been around for a while, it’ll contain shed loads of internal and external links.
In order to maintain your rankings, it’s vital these links come across to your new site. It’s also a great excuse for a clean-up and will help you identify any dead links.
Just remember to go through each blog, too. It’s a big task, but one that is often overlooked, and which can cause the most damage if left.
When you create a new website, the URL structure will almost certainly change. This is why URL redirects are so important.
A URL redirect simply makes a web page available under more than one address. So, if you had a bunch of old, irrelevant pages on the website that you simply want to link to the new homepage if people access them, a redirect will be needed.
Another fiddly, laborious job, but an absolutely essential one.
When you create user forms on your new website, make sure you apply the correct contact details. There’s nothing worse than a contact form that either doesn’t work at all or which ends up disappearing into the ether once someone fills it out.
Test each contact form until you’re happy it’s working exactly as intended.
Your old website probably has lots of images. Not all of them will need to be carried across, but a great many probably will.
Again, this relates most significantly to blog posts. This is why it’s so important to scour your old blog posts, grab the images and ensure they feature in the same places on your new website.
Images play a big role in SEO, therefore make sure you bring over the correct alt tags, too.
We get it - you’re super-excited about your new website, but before you hit the ‘go live’ button, make sure you’re as confident as possible that all is in order.
You can’t over-test a new website, so continually do so until every bug or dead link is ironed out. And get lots of people involved at this stage, too; several eyes are far better than one, after all.
Give yourself some space from the new site, as well. A day or two working on other projects will enable you to return with a fresh mindset and spot things you may otherwise have missed.
Once your website goes live, keep returning to stage five above - we can’t overstate how important that step is.
The more you check, double check and sniff out each page for broken links, missing images and bad contact forms the more likely you are to retain your rankings and enjoy a healthy influx of new leads.
As far as tools go, Moz is a great platform for checking for abnormalities on your website. Although, we can help, too!