Tips to Maintain SEO Rankings when Rebuilding a Website
Often times, our clients decide to build a brand new website, but don’t want to lose the SEO rankings we’ve obtained for them. So they ask us for SEO advice to prevent any lost in positions &/or traffic. Most of the time, a complete web re-design is good for SEO as long as you remember the following rules;
1. 301 Redirect old URL’s to new. If for some reason you change the URL naming (ie: yourwebsite.com/filename-old.php to yourwebsite.com/file-name-new/) of the pages/filenames, it is important to redirect all bots and traffic to the new pages. This way if any links are pointing to these pages, people will land on new desired page instead of an old (and possibly gone) page (and receive a 404 error). This also allows the new pages to take over the old page’s rankings in the search engines.
2. Make sure to use your robots.txt file to disallow bots from crawling pages, files and/or folders you don’t want to be indexed in the search engines.
3. If possible, make sure all images are named after keywords or relevant contextual terms instead of medium.jpg or logo.png or iStock_0005488107Medium.jpg, but something like keyword-phrase45.jpg or images/medium-keyword-phrase.jpg, or whatever. It doesn’t matter what you say, as long as it NOT purely numbers and picture specs.
4. Add a sitewide link back to homepage to the footer. Make sure anchor text is not ‘home’, rather something like your target keyword(s). This way every page of your site is calling your homepage a keyword you are targeting instead of “home”.
5. Create and submit NEW xml sitemap to Google. Make sure all new pages are listed in the sitemap.xml file and that you removed all old/missing pages from past website design. Also, don’t forget to reference your sitemap.xml in the robots.txt file!
6. Check your Google webmaster tools for crawl errors & fix. Crawls errors are usually pages within your website that are missing or causing redirect issues. Just 301 redirect them to new page or disallow them with robots.txt file. (NOTE: You may have to wait to do this step until after Google crawls new website.)
7. Check Google Webmaster tools for HTML suggestions & fix – Another important thing to remember is Google doesn’t like duplicate titles and meta descriptions. So make sure all pages have unique metas. (NOTE: You may have to wait to do this step until after Google crawls new website.)
That’s about it. The main goal is to keep the site keyword rich, makes sure all old pages redirect to newest relevant ones, and that you do whatever Google says in GWT. If you work it right, you should see improvement once Google indexes the new site.