SEO Website Redesign Checklist

It’s that time of year here in Columbus, Ohio. The grass is getting greener, the days are getting longer, and thoughts of website redesign are on every one’s mind.

We’ve worked through dozens of website redesigns with our clients over the years. We’ve taken that panicked call in which someone calls us to say that they just redesigned their website and all their search traffic disappeared. We’ve also seen redesigned websites increase search engine traffic by 70% and leads by even more.

So, courtesy of Webbed Marketing, here is our best of advice for website redesigns. And, even if everything below doesn’t make perfect sense to you, make sure to print this off and hand it to your web design shop.

Plan URL structure and naming

  • If feasible keep the same URL structure and naming as old site for the new site unless old URLs are not search engine-friendly
  • If changing the structure or naming, have a plan for redirecting old content to new content via 301 redirects on a page by page basis.
  • Avoid dynamic URLs

 Site Layout/Navigation/Content

  • Ensure custom, unique page title, meta description and meta keywords can be added at page level
  • Keep in mind space for new site content – will there be less space for copy? More space? (Keyword density)
  • Will the main navigation change – Flash versus text (search engine indexing)
  • When planning new site content, plan internal linking strategy
  • Include a custom 404 with new html sitemap to avoid losing visitors with old site pages bookmarked

 PPC/Analytics

  • When planning new site, keep in mind any PPC campaigns running and plan new landing pages accordingly including content, quality scores and conversion methods

Post-Launch Considerations

Archive the old site for back up purposes

  • Use a robots.txt to nofollow old site pages
  • Test 301 redirects.
    • Site level redirects
    • Directory level redirects
    • Page level redirects
  • Verify tracking codes
    • Google Analytics or Omniture
    • Quantcast
    • Alexa
    • PPC conversion codes
  • Create and submit a new xml sitemap
  • Refine Analytics goals if necessary

Common 301 Redirect instructions
Windows Server – IIS Redirect

  • In internet services manager, right click on the file or folder you wish to redirect
  • Select the radio titled “a redirection to a URL”.
  • Enter the redirection page
  • Check “The exact url entered above” and the “A permanent redirection for this resource”
  • Click on ‘Apply’

(Linux) Redirect to www (htaccess redirect)
Create a .htaccess file with the below code, it will ensure that all requests coming in to domain.com will get redirected to www.domain.com
The .htaccess file needs to be placed in the root directory of your old website (i.e the same directory where your index file is placed)

Options +FollowSymlinks
RewriteEngine on
rewritecond %{http_host} ^domain.com [nc] rewriterule ^(.*)$ http://www.domain.com/$1 [r=301,nc]

Please REPLACE domain.com and www.newdomain.com with your actual domain name.

Note*This .htaccess method of redirection works ONLY on Linux servers having the Apache Mod-Rewrite moduled enabled.

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