Redesigning your website or migrating your website to a new platform is something that every established business is going to have to deal with at some point. The capabilities of what can be accomplished with a website grow every year and it’s highly likely that your competitors are upgrading their sites to provide a more professional appearance, a better user experience, and to better drive conversions through paid and organic channels.
Have you ever walked into an office that’s clearly outdated and not well kept? How about a store where merchandise is all over the place and nobody offers to assist you?
Your website works in the same way. People are not going to want to work with someone who doesn’t maintain a professional appearance and they’re not going to shop on a site where they can’t find what they need.
These types of considerations are typically what drives the decision for a site redesign or migration to a new platform, and rightfully so. You’re going to have a hard time bringing in business with a bad looking website.
But, there are a lot of technical things going on in the background that people fail to consider during the course of a site redesign or migration. Failure to plan properly can result in a serious decline in organic traffic, conversions, and keyword rankings, even if your new website looks great.
If you’re undertaking a site migration, there’s a lot to be considered.
It’s impossible to measure the impact of changes to your website if you don’t have something to measure against. And traffic isn’t enough.
Many times we have clients come to us with organic traffic reports – which is a great start, but doesn’t give you a complete picture of how the site is performing and how your users are interacting with it. Anything that drives sales, leads, or any other type of conversion needs to be well-documented before the change takes place.
The exact metrics you choose to use as a baseline for success will vary based on your business, but it’s key to remember – traffic doesn’t necessarily mean customers. Sometimes traffic will drop after a redesign – but if you’re getting the same amount of conversions, you’re getting higher quality traffic and filtering out the fluff.
Often, when you’re redesigning your site, you’re going to be both adding and eliminating pages, categories, and content throughout the site. You’ll have an idea of what you want to remove and what you want to add, but cutting things out without consulting analytics programs can result in a serious dip in traffic and conversions.
Before we dive into selecting what to migrate, let’s do a quick review of some basic SEO factors that are key to this process:
For SEO professionals, in an ideal world, we’d keep all URLs intact during a migration to maintain full link equity, but most of the time this just isn’t realistic. We can preserve some link value from removed pages through the use of a 301 redirect, but those redirects will never be as valuable as a direct inbound link.
Here’s a basic evaluation for any page you’re considering removing or changing as part of your site migration/redesign:
Once you’re established a plan for migrating pages and maintaining all that lovely link equity along with the content which drives visits and conversions to your site, it’s time to consider some additional technical aspects of your new website.
In general, what’s good for users is good for Google. Most of this will already be covered by your developer, but a quick review of some technical factors that matter to your success include:
A site migration or redesign can be confusing and bring about plenty of worries – even more so when you begin considering the vast number of technical factors which affect organic search performance. The best things you can do are to research and prepare – and trust your team.
You hired a developer and a designer for a reason – because they have expertise in making great looking websites that drive results. You hired your marketing team, be they your own employees or an agency, because they have the expertise in organic, paid, social, and earned media channels to get you the results you need. You are where you are in your industry because you understand your customers and you deliver value.
It’s easy to get nervous during these changes, to start questioning every decision, to wonder if a site redesign is worth it. But having a great web presence is no longer an option – it’s required. And with the help of talented developers, designers, and marketing professionals, you’ll be able to make a site that looks great, delights your customers, and drive organic visitors and new customers into your sales funnel.
If you have questions or concerns about your site redesign or migration, I’ve written an e-Book with more insights to help you out. Check it out here or leave a comment below!