Being in the SEO world for over ten years I see different issues come and go and change. Sometimes you seem to run in to handfuls of the same problem in batches.  Recently I have run in to a number of clients and prospects that had issues or were planning to redesign their websites to update and make things nicer, faster, more modern, and or mobile friendly.  Most people don’t know some of the basic things from the checklist below that can be very important that you take care of before updating your site or changing your domain.  I’ve seen many cases where the developer didn’t know these needed to be done and it can cost you thousands of dollars if you are relying on SEO for business at all.

You can dig in to the details yourself or hire a good SEO to help lead you as many have done. Here is a checklist of some important things to take care of if doing a redesign in the coming months.

  • Find out what pages on your site have inbound links from other sites or are just getting significant traffic.
    • Links build up the strength of your domain for SEO when they are legitimate (they hurt you if they aren’t).
  • Create and implement a 301 redirect mapping from your old site url’s to your new ones.
    • 301 redirect tell the search engines that this old page doesn’t exist any more, but that they should send visitors (and link strength) to the new page that has been created to take it’s place.
    • If you don’t have a relevant page that accounts for that old page on the new site, you should make one.
    • You should do a 301 for all of your old pages but if you must prioritize, do all of the pages with links and high traffic.  Some small businesses only have a few pages so this isn’t overly complicated, but if you have a lot of content, this can be a project in itself.
  • Make sure you don’t get hit with duplicate content
    • If the developer builds  your new site in a test environment and Google indexes  your content in a different spot, then indexes again when you go live, it can view your new site as having
      “duplicate content” and then hold that against you in the rankings.
    • Make sure the developer doesn’t allow engines to index the content in the test environment.
    • Make sure when you go live they do allow the site to be indexed.
      • This can be a very simple mistake but recently saw a developer accidentally leaving in one line of code telling engines not to index the site cost a business hundreds of thousands of visitors before they noticed that that one line was causing all of the problems.
  • Meta-Tag Transfer
    • Though Google is changing how it uses meta-tags like the title tag for ranking, it still matters and is a symbol to search engines what the page is about.
    • If you have well targeted meta-tags that were helping pages from the old site to rank and then move over to generic tags or the same tag on every page, you may see your traffic disappear.
    • Again, if you had an old page bringing in lots of good traffic, you should have a version of that on the new site, with the same or similarly targeted tags.
  • You definitely should go mobile friendly and probably go https
    • Being mobile friendly is hugely important these days so if you are updating your site, it is a given that you should make sure the new version is mobile friendly.
    • Having a secure site is important to Google and will likely get more so. Taking care of this during the redesign can be more efficient in general.
      • You will need to do 301 map when you go to https and you need one now, so you can do this all at once.

So these are the biggies for a site redesign that I see people forget to do time after time. Some of it can be a little complicated and you need to make sure you do it right. I would advise hiring an SEO for the project even if you don’t have ongoing SEO. Just someone you can trust to hold your hand through the changes and minimize damages that can occur from a major change like this.  Site redesign is important to keep you up to date and working well, but it is similar to surgery in that it may take a brief period to adapt and recover before being better off in the long term.  Hire an SEO to make sure that period is indeed brief and you don’t end up starting from scratch.


Article Name
Can I Be (301 re-) Direct With You About Your Site Redesign?
Google Certified Partner and SEM Specialist
Most people don't know some of the basic things from the checklist below that can be very important that you take care of before updating your site or changing your domain.
Jeremy Skillings