If your site designer is not affiliated with your developers and SEO team, make sure they get acquainted. In fact, they should be regularly communicating because each plays a crucial role in how your website will ultimately perform. Once these three all understand your goals and ambitions, it is time to move on to the redesign.
Do Not Rush Launching the New Website
This part of the process is much more than one step, so let’s break it down.
Keep Your Current Website Live
First and foremost, do not take down your old website. Have you ever gone to a site that was under construction for an extended period of time? How did that feel? Don’t put that frustration onto your clients and customers.
How Do Your Keywords Look?
What better time to reevaluate your keywords then when you are starting a new design. Do some research and check to see if your keyword strategy is still performing well or if new long tail keywords would benefit your business moving forward.
The New Sitemap Should be Maintained If Possible
Your users may be used to going to certain pages directly so maintaining a similar sitemap structure is beneficial to them and your business. However, when you create a similar sitemap make sure you 301 redirect the pages. Do not use 302 redirects as they do not pass on as much authority. Do not delete pages.
In some cases the original sitemap may have been so bad that it is not worth time or effort to use again. In any case, always have an up-to-date HTML and XML sitemap. These will help search engines discover the new location of your pages and properly categorize and rank them.
Customize Your 404 Page
If your previous site did not have an effective custom 404 page make sure you create one. If done well the page will not deter your users like a traditional 404 page tends to do.
Place Tracking Codes on the Website
Before you launch make sure all tracking codes are in place. You do not want to launch a new site and not have any data. Your analytics code should be in place with any conversion codes you wish to track.
Monitor Your Traffic Once the Site is Launched
Congratulations, you have launched a newly designed website! Do not forget to remove all indexing restrictions on the development site. Also, make sure the robots.txt specify the location of your sitemap.
Next, go to Google Webmaster Tools and submit your new sitemap. Now that everything has been moved over and your new site is live, watch your Webmaster Tools and Analytics for any strange activity. Make sure your site is being indexed and watch for large numbers of pages 404ing. Finally, monitor your traffic closely. How are things going?
Redesigning a website can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be a hair-pulling experience. Keep the before, during, and after in mind when you are going through the process. Break each step down, and take your time doing it correctly. There is nothing worse than rushing the process for a poor result.
By: Tom Damitio