Congratulations you worked on a new website to replace your dated website and need to launch the update without tanking your current search engine results. So what steps should you take?
Establish Website Performance Metrics
In order to know if the new website design is performing better or worse than your old website, you’ll need to have concrete data on how your current website is performing.
Important metrics to understand and have tracked are:
- How many visitors are coming from search engines?
- What keywords is your website currently ranking for?
- How many calls and conversions is your website driving?
- What is the average amount of pages a visitor views per visit?
- How many of your pages are currently indexed by search engines?
The above data will be used as a benchmark for the new site design.
Track Changes to Page URLs
Did any of your existing page URLs change? Did your website go from HTML pages to a CMS like WordPress? It will be important to understand if any URLs change and make sure you have redirects from the old URL to the new URL.
Have a Stranger Test Your Website
Often when we spend a lot of time on a project we can develop bling spots and overlook small issues. Having a user not already familiar with the website answer the following questions will help you understand if you have any changes you need to make.
- What do I want visitors to do when coming to my website?
- Is my content readable and clear?
- Does the website work well on mobile?
If you are able to get multiple people to test your website even better. Try to encourage different people to use different browsers when testing your website. Sometimes different browsers render the same website differently and an issue may exist on one but not the others.
Don’t Forget the SEO
A new website might mean new pages and images. Make sure each page of your website has useful keyword-optimized meta descriptions and title tags for SEO.
Images should also all have Alt text added to them. Alt text on images provides a text alternative for search engines.
Use h1, h2, and h3’s thoughtfully. Header tags help search engines understand the structure of the content on the page and what the page is about. It also helps site visitors by breaking up content into sections that are easier to read and understand.
Launching the New Website
You feel confident in your new website and have launched it. Now it’s time to do the following:
- Implement your 301 redirects
- If your domain changed from HTTP to HTTPS make sure to update your address in Google Search Console and Google Analytics.
- Check your website manually. Use a search engine to find your website and click on the results. Are all of them going to the proper page and behaving properly?
- Check your website site speed with tools like GTMetrix or PageSpeed Insights. A slow website will harm your search engine results.
- Tell the world about your new website update. Sharing the news on social media and releasing a Press Release are great ways to draw attention to your new website and encourage search engines to crawl the new pages more frequently.
Once launch day has passed it’s important to keep monitoring your website performance and compare it to the metrics of the last website. If you followed the above advice you’ll be in a great position to not see any drop in your search engine performance and instead experience better results than before.