How to relaunch a site without messing up your SEO

We discuss essential steps while relaunching a website to ensure that SEO is not impacted adversely.

seo illustration

Things to do on the older site

Run a spider and get a list of all URLs on the older site. You will generally find four categories of URLs: 200 (Properly functioning), 301 (Permanent redirects) and 302 (Temporary redirects) and 404 (Not Found). For more info on HTTP response codes, go here.

exemplifi spider crawl results

The 404s are typically discarded. The 301s and 302s need a discussion with the client to make the appropriate decisions. As for the 200s, you should attempt to retain the same URLs as this minimizes the SEO impact. But if there is a major reorg of the URLs underway, then you will need to setup the appropriate 301 redirects between the old URLs and the new URLs.

You should also closely analyze the robots.txt file and get familiar with all the rules. Some of these rules will be discarded and others will continue onto the new site.

user agent code snippet

Things to do with the New Site

As mentioned earlier, you should strongly attempt to keep the same URLs, but if you need to undergo a reorg make sure to setup the proper redirect rules. These rules can be set in many different places such as the .htaccess file or on the admin console of your hosting provider.

code snippet in text
exemplifi redirect rules in wordpress

After the site is built, run a spider to get the overall list of URLs. If your site is powered by a CMS, it will auto-generate a lot of URLs related to “Authors”, “Tags” and “Categories”. You will need to make decisions about whether you want these pages to be indexed and incorporate these rules in the robots.txt file.

Finally, be sure to install good modules within your CMS that make it SEO-friendly and provide features such as sitemap submissions, managing URLs and robot file management. Yoast, for example is a very popular SEO product for WordPress.

Google Search Console

The Google Search Console is an essential tool for understanding the state of your SEO while relaunching your site and also to monitor it on an ongoing basis. You will typically need to work with your webmaster to connect your domain with it. For further instructions click here.

google search console overview

In the URL inspection tab, you can type in any URL of your site and know the status. Is it indexed properly? Are there any issues?

google search console url inspection screen

The coverage tab provides a detailed overview of all valid URLs, excluded URLs and any errors based on the latest crawl.

google search console coverage screen

The Sitemaps tab is where you submit your sitemap.

sitemaps in search console

The Mobile Usability is quite helpful in identifying any mobile specific issues on your site.

mobile usability in search console

A very useful feature is the regular alerts that it sends when it sees any errors on the site.

search console alerts and notification

In summary, with a few simple steps and good planning, your new site can retain and build on the SEO rankings of the older site.

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