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THE TASK OF RETAINING TRAFFIC AND RANKINGS FOLLOWING A
REDESIGN OR RESTRUCTURING OF A WEBSITE IS ONE OF THE
BIGGEST CHALLENGES FACED BY AN SEO. – ANDY KINSEY, SEOANDY
The task of retaining traffic and rankings
following a redesign or restructuring of a
website is one of the biggest challenges
faced by an SEO. Time and time again I
head about the process going wrong or not
being completed and organisations losing
money as their traffic and rankings drop.
This checklist is for SEO’s, Web Designers,
Web Developers and Importantly Website
It’s easy to follow, and doing so will help
ensure you don’t lose traffic or rankings. Andy Kinsey,
Founder of SEOAndy
1. Benchmark Your Current Website
Generate a month to month analytics report.
Check Your Bounce Rate
Check Pages Per Visit
Check Top Landing Pages
Check Avg Time on Website
Check Your Current Search Rankings
Check Your Domain Authority
Check the number of leads each month (avg)
Know which pages are most shared
Before you begin the redesign of your
website it is important to check your
current website status from an SEO
To check these you can use:
Google Webmaster Tools
Open Site Explorer
2. Create a Website Inventory
Perform an Internal Link Analysis (1)
Perform an External Link Audit (2)
Create an Internal Sitemap (3)
Do a basic Content Audit… (4)
What keywords are you targeting for which
Which keywords show to be the most used in
your organic search analytics?
Is your content all in a similar tone of voice?
Does your content convert well?
Is your content more than 6 months old?
Knowing the internals of your current
website can help you make choices
going forward. If you don’t have all of
this data to hand, you may find your
redesign fails to meet your objectives.
Tools to use:
1 – Xenu Link Sleuth
2 – Ahrefs
3 – See “301 Mapping”
4 – Spreadsheet software
3. Consider Your URL Structure
Is there an issue with your current urls?
Are there too many layers before a product url?
Are they ugly and non-user friendly?
Are they simple or very long?
Can you remember 5 of them easily?
Moving Platform May Force URL Changes
What would your perfect URL structure be?
Creating a new URL structure does
make the job of an SEO during a
redesign tricky. However, done
correctly (see “301 Mapping”)
changing your structure can be a
benefit of your new website.
Tip: Always think about the structure
before you start building your new
website. It becomes harder the longer
you leave it.
4. 301 Mapping / Redirecting of Old URLs
Hint: You MUST have completed an internal
and external link audit!
Using the spreadsheet (see link right).
This should (at this stage) be a one-to-one
mapping exercise, with your old URL (and
linked to URLs) to the left and the new
location on the right.
Follow the instructions within the
spreadsheet to complete your redirects for
your new website.
Redirecting old URLs is an important
part of your SEO relaunch strategy.
This may take some time to complete,
however without it you will suffer a
loss of ranking and traffic.
Download Your Free
301 Redirect Mapping Spreadsheet.
5. Be Awesome (always)
Create an Awesome 404 Page
Help the user find what they are looking for
Potentially include a search box or popular links
Be informal (and you can be funny)
Have your most popular links in your footer
Make your navigation REALLY easy to use
Check all pages for user friendliness
Keeping your website awesome isn’t
easy, but by taking these steps you
can ensure that when something goes
wrong (and it will) that your users
stick with you and continue using your
6. Don’t Stop SEO-ing
Continue your SEO on your old website and
mirror this on your new website, this means
ensuring that things like the items below are
similar or updated on the new site:
Meta Title Tags
Static Website Content
Ensure all images have a rich ALT Text
Time and time again I see that SEO
stops on the old website whilst a new
one is built and not yet launched. This
means you will lose traffic and
rankings, it’s almost a promise.
Don’t be silly and ensure you do SEO
on your old site whilst your new
website is built.
7. Build SEO Into Your New Website
If you’ve got a new website, now is the perfect
time to implement new SEO and improve on your
Here are a few things you could implement:
Microformats / Structured Data
Social Media Meta Tags (optimised)
Social Media sharing utilities
An improved sitemap / RSS feed
Ensure you are monitoring the site fully
Google Webmaster Tools
This is just a basic list that you could
bring to almost any website, easily.
There is much more you could do for
most websites, just ask your SEO or
web designer about this.
Tip: remember SEO isn’t just about
search engines it’s about user
8. Just Do It! – Go Live
If you have a website with traffic less than a few
thousand visitors per day, simply “flick the switch”
and Go Live.
If your website has thousands of visitors, I would
suggest putting your site into BETA for a portion of
your audience to try before the whole world.
Ask your developer about how to do this.
The important thing is to not be scared.
If you have completed this Checklist then you will
be singing and dancing fairly soon.
9. Post-Launch Checks
Now your site is live, it is important that you keep
an eye on it for a while to ensure there are no
issues. You can do this by:
Adding Google Webmaster Tools
To Check the index status
To Check for Crawl Errors
To submit your new sitemap
To “fetch and render” your key pages
To check Google is crawling your website
Adding Google Analytics
To monitor traffic flow through the website
Ensure no traffic is lost from key sources (eg referral links)
Ensure your website is converting correctly
You’ve just completed the SEOAndy
Checklist for Relaunching Your Website.
As you breathe a sigh of relief, don’t
forget that a new website is usually
tweaked in the first weeks of it’s life to
make it better and fix small bugs. Don’t
be disheartened by this.
Good Luck, Andy.
Thanks for Reading
This document is the culmination of around
25 iterations, at launch (august 2014). If you are
reading this later, it has no doubt been through many
more thanks to suggestions from readers like you.
To make a suggestion simply leave a comment on the
Thanks for Reading
Andy Kinsey (@andykinsey)
Founder of SEOAndy
Head of Digital Marketing @ RedStar
This document has been supplied for free by Andy
Kinsey, SEOAndy.net – You are welcome to share this
document as you wish, but please do not alter it.
The advice and checklist given may help maintain or
improve your SEO of a website you are relaunching –
however this is not a promise.
Please be aware that even though you complete the
checklist you may suffer loss of traffic and rankings.
CopyRight 2014 – Andy Kinsey, SEOAndy.net