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Written by Sam Yadegar on May 12 , 2020

Launching a new website doesn’t have to mean starting your SEO from scratch 

Here, you’ll find:

  • Why preserving your SEO is important
  • Steps to take to safeguard your SEO
  • Why creating a temporary site is recommended
  • Ways to test website elements before going live

When you’ve spent years strategically constructing your former site’s content and strengthening each keyword, you’ve likely built up decently strong search engine optimization (SEO). Good website SEO takes time, and once you’ve found success with it, guarding that success is a must.

So, what happens to your SEO once you revamp and launch your new site, or move it to a new domain?

Savvy digital marketers know preserving your SEO during the redesign or site migration process is critical. This 7-step website SEO checklist will help you get started.

HawkSEM: new website seo - balloons

Historical data is equally important in the SEO process, so instead of deleting old content, create a plan to improve it. (Image via Unsplash)

Steps to take to safeguard your SEO

Before you launch a new website, you need to protect your current site’s SEO to remain relevant on search engines and appear in organic searches. Here’s how to do it.

1. Audit your current site

A technical audit crawls your old site for errors. By establishing areas of concern on your former site, you can save yourself some headaches when launching your new site.  

Some examples of site errors include:

  • Broken internal or external links
  • Large files causing a slow load process
  • Low text to HTML ratio
  • Invalid sitemap.xml format
  • Non-secure pages
  • Duplicate title tags

2. Benchmark existing metrics

Document and save your old site’s performance progress. Google Analytics is one of the most popular tools to aggregate and assess site data. 

If you don’t have a sitemap for your old website, it’s a good idea to create one, along with a new version for the new site. Comparison metrics will assist you in analyzing and implementing each element of your new site. 

3. Use similar content

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The same can be said about your new site content.

Keep your old content
Comparable content provides uninterrupted optimization, helping you score higher organic search engine results page (SERP) rankings. This is why it’s wise to move old site content over to the new site. Historical data is equally important in the SEO process, so instead of deleting old content, create a plan to improve it.

Keywords
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to keywords for your new or revamped site. Rather, you can create a spreadsheet, organize each keyword, and compare the productivity. List the corresponding search volumes and define the strongest players from there.

One topic per page
Optimizing one keyword per page increases your site relevancy. Because of this, it’s a good idea to try to use only one topic and keyword per page on your site.

4. Create a temporary site

When your site is under construction, consider generating a temporary URL to use as your “staging site” during the design process. Using a temporary site curbs the risk of your new site being indexed while under construction. 

Users will also still have continued access to your former site to avoid any conversion interruption. 

HawkSEM: new website SEO - compass

Test to make sure each icon, button, and form operates and connects to the correct destination. (Image via Unsplash)

5. Test the 301 redirects

Permanent 301 redirects help confirm that each former URL is directed to the new URL. Keep things organized by creating a spreadsheet to map out each redirect. (Broken links are major hiccups and will slow down the SEO process.)

Watch out for deleted pages as well as static content. The technical audit will also effectively mend these possible glitches.

6. Update buttons, logos, and forms 

One misdirected link and you might lose the visitor for good. To develop a seamless site experience, test to make sure each icon, button, and form operates and connects to the correct destination.

Social media buttons
Social media can play a huge part in driving traffic to your site. When adding new social media buttons, make sure each icon is highly visible to the viewer and properly linked. 

If you’re a company that has multiple accounts within one social media platform (such as regular and support-specific Twitter accounts), verify that you’re linking to the proper account consistent with the relevant page content. 

Logos
Make sure each partner brand and logo is updated, since companies and organizations may have redesigned their logos.

Call to action (CTA)
Depending on your site’s CTA, test each link for the proper conversion. For example, if you want the viewer to subscribe to your newsletter, verify that each component of the sign-up form is functioning.

7. Choose the right agency

If you’re not going the DIY route (which can be a big — and potentially risky — undertaking), choosing the right agency for your site’s redesign or migration is critical.

When interviewing each agency, ask questions such as:

  • What are your revamp or migration strategies?
  • Do you have steps in place to preserve SEO?
  • Have you successfully revamped or migrated sites before?
  • What tactics do you use to avoid errors?

The takeaway

With the right strategy in place, you can easily integrate your previous site’s optimized data into your new website SEO strategy. 

Maintaining your SEO performance increases your new site’s relevancy, authenticity, and trustworthiness. By incorporating all of the elements above, your conversion rate will thrive and your new website will be a huge success.

Want more info on performing a site migration? Check out our guide. 

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

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