Redesigning and relaunching a high ranking website is not an easy task. There are many ranking factors to manage, and missing just one of them can impact SEO and rankings. We explored a few of the tactical and site-specific reasons why your traffic dropped after your website relaunch, so we wanted to look at it from a different angle. Understanding how to manage and integrate SEO into a website redesign and relaunch process is key towards retaining traffic levels and keeping users happy.
Relationships are a fragile part of any business. If you’re an agency your website redesign process can make or break your relationship with your client. If you’re a business, your website redesign process can make or break your business and your relationship with your users.
With this in mind, we wanted to outline key points for project managers, or anyone embarking on a website redesign project that will make or break your project’s success.
Open and Constant Communication
With any project, communication is vital. Having an open line of communication between all team members involved will help your SEO consultant provide detailed recommendations and possible high-risk tactics and strategies that, as a business, you might view as minor.
Tip: Make sure you copy each team member on all email communication that impacts website changes of any kind. It is key to keeping everyone in the loop.
Knowing when to bring in your SEO transition planning expert is important to the success of your website redesign project.
There are two timing points
The preferred method of SEO transition planning is injecting the SEO consultant into the process at the website redesign planning phase. This is usually less costly for the business because the SEO transition expert can manage the process and provide recommendations along the way.
The second type of transition plan takes place after the website has launched. This is more of a reactive strategy that usually takes place when the website owner realizes they have lost 50%-60% of their traffic. This strategy is usually more costly since your transition expert will need to do a deep dive into the strategies used to rebuild the website, a comparative analysis, and full site audit – prior to moving onto the execution phase of fixing the issues.
SEO Integration Points
Understanding the key SEO integration points is imperative to building SEO into your website redesign and relaunch. This includes integrating the SEO expert into, at a minimum, the strategic processes below.
- Information Architecture Creation
- Taxonomy Creation
- Content Strategy and SEO
- Content Hierarchy
- Conversion Rate Optimization
- Page Structure Optimization
- Redirect Strategy
- QA Strategy
- Post-Launch Audit
Current State SEO Audit
As a website project manager or business owner, to understand where you are going, you need to gather current benchmarks and understand concerns with your current website. Your SEO professional will need to gather and provide a current state outline includes three key components.
- Baseline Metrics Gathering
- Current State Audit
- Comparative Audit
Make sure you include the SEO team or SEO transition expert in the QA process. They will have their own set of data points they will need to check.
Tip: Make sure your SEO expert has the ability to crawl the staging website to uncover any implementation issues. This will make their job much easier, lower turnaround time, and increase quality.
Post-Launch Audit – Not Everything Will Go Perfectly
Not everything will go perfectly. It is the SEO transition expert’s job to understand there will be hiccups, and thus providing a post-launch audit and recommendations will be part of the ongoing management of the transition.
The post-launch audit will usually take place over a time span of 1-2 months after the website is launched.
This includes weekly monitoring of the following:
- Monitoring and Mapping 404 Errors
- Technical and Content Crawls and Recommendations
- Baseline Measurements
- Monitoring Traffic Levels From Key Sources
- Constant Communication With The Client Team
Top-Down Buy-in For SEO
This is imperative to any successful website redesign and relaunch. Without top-down buy-in for SEO integration, it will be an uphill battle between teams.
Usually, when this battle takes places its due to SEO being viewed as a strategy that limits great experiences – when we all know it compliments great web design, and when done correctly, amplifies experiences and builds brand value.
Complete Project Teams
Make sure that your team is complete and included throughout the process. Don’t leave certain team members out of meetings, just because you don’t think the topics for the meeting will have an impact on what they are providing to the project.
Tip: It should be left up to the team member to decide if the meeting is not going to be valuable for them.
Team members should include:
- Content Strategists
- Copy Writers
- Project Mangers
- Information Architects
Knowledge Sharing Sessions
Everyone has specific knowledge that when combined is what provides value. Each person was cast on the website transition team for a reason.
Tip: It is the project manager’s job to understand each person’s strengths, and how each person’s knowledge and skill set fits into the web design project’s success.
Understand The Balance Between SEO and Users
Not everything will be perfectly executed to align with how an SEO feels it should be done – and this is ok. Remember it’s ultimately about the user, and it’s the SEO professionals responsibility to provide insights to help build an experience that both users and Google loves.
Tip: For items that are outside of SEO best practices, it’s the job of the SEO to provide data and insights on the risks associated with those items.
When relaunching a website there will be a period after the launch when Google and users are assessing the changes and learning how to use and interpret the new website. This will result in SEO rankings fluctuation – don’t be alarmed.
Tip: Don’t think that once it’s launched you are done – figure 1-2 months of tweaks and updates to content and SEO variables. You will need to continue to monitor and tweak the website to get every little bit of traffic that you can out of the new design.