Web Redesign or SEO disaster?

Web Redesign or SEO disaster?

Website redesign and disaster shouldn’t go hand in hand. If you are looking to refresh, migrate or relaunch your website, I have a list of pre and post-launch activities that will help your website ranking not slip and achieve all your SEO goals at the same time. 

Website migrations that don’t take into account SEO while migrating or any hasty migrations can seriously hinder the website’s SEO. SEO is essential for any website to make an impact on SERPs. 

This list can be used as a checklist as you plan your website’s redesign. 

Prerequisites before migration 

Layout a plan of goals and objectives that you are trying to achieve with this website redesign. 

Whatever your new goals for the website might be, you still want to maintain the current rankings and traffic. It would be difficult to rebuild or recover them. 

Before we get started here is a checklist to keep in mind for a website redesign. 

  • Current site analysis 
  • List high performing content 
  • Set SEO goals
  • Optimize existing content
  • Setup 301 redirects beforehand 
  • Reorganize site architecture
  • Optimize page speed for mobile and desktop
  • Update sitemap

Keep this checklist handy for reference whenever you are migrating a website or redesigning it. 

Define Goals and Project Plans 

To simply put it there can be various reasons why you are opting to change your website in whatever way you can. 

A few of these reasons can be 

  • UX improvements 
  • Marketing goals 
  • SEO improvements
  • Business upgrades

To ensure the success of a project it is key to develop a plan and set goals that are real and achievable. 

Create benchmarks and baselines which you will want to refer/touchback to while monitoring the  ROI of the improvements. 

These web plans are usually managed by a project owner who then has various departments involved like IT, product, marketing, and most importantly SEO. make sure to keep SEO a part of every step of the planning process, so that you don’t encounter any sudden unintended consequences. 

Content and Information Framework 

In SEO, your content, theme, and overall subtopics are important for SEO success. This will affect on-site content and how you organize your content. 

Changes in sitemap, content, information framework, and overall content will impact SEO and ranking. It is important for everyone on the redesign team to understand this and how it works. 

SEO should be the central theme of the web redesign. 

Make sure not to remove or omit pages that are crucial for SEO in the website’s new design; neither should the theme or overall message be diluted or changed in the new design. 

Use crawling tools like SEMrush and Screaming Frog to find all pages of worth to your website. 

Then with the help of your team create a new sitemap. This new sitemap will now be your guide for the next steps of the redesign. 

On-page Optimization

Diving deeper into the page level of SEO, it is crucial to preserve the appropriate content to the intent of your target audience who is making the searches. 

Once it has been established what is staying and what needs to be changed, you can now focus on protecting and proactively optimizing content at the page level for content that will be important for relevance. For example, URLs, page titles, meta descriptions, body text, and alt text. 

Now, check how deep the changes are to the framework and sitemap? This will lay down the relevancy of content to ensure that your website doesn’t lose subject matter on it. 

Optimize your clone website don’t wait until after your launch to make these changes. 


For great user experience enhancements, you need to map out all 301 redirects for all pages that are getting a new URL or for those going away with the redesign. 

It is our responsibility to not serve any 404 error pages to our users. 

It is okay that 404s are appearing on search engines, but any backlinks will be lost to your site in a 404 error. 

Make sure to properly redirect pages that have links pointing to them. Especially when you can’t control or ensure that the links are updated to the new page URL. 

For big websites with several pages that can be a time-intensive part of the SEO redesign process. 

Use the crawl tools you did earlier for your sitemap to plan and determine all the URLs that have to be redirected to new URLs. 

Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools can also be helpful tools here to gain insights as to which pages are being crawled by search engines on a regular basis so that you don’t miss any redirects. 

When all the redirects have been mapped out, ensure they are infused at the server level or site plugin before you are ready to launch. 

This update can be difficult after the launch, the harm is already done where search engines and users are getting 404 errors while using the website. Every lost second is a lost opportunity here. 

Doing this work after the site has been launched, you will be wasting time on finding old URLs and implementing redirects. It will just be sheer luck to get back the authority status your site had earlier. 


During the launch follow the checklist mentioned above. Perform quality checks of the work that has been done during the clone site development to date. 

Don’t go ahead with the launch if any of your on-page optimization or redirects are not properly placed or tested. 

It is better to delay the launch rather than redo a lot of work after the launch as it will damage the authority of the site more. 

Post Launch Checks 

Check redirects 

The #1 step is to check up on the redirect file, old sitemap, and the old site crawl test and make sure that all the URLs that had a 301 error redirect now to the new site URLs as needed. 

This is an important step where you can seize and stray 404s and execute additional redirects fast. 

Begin your process by spot-checking URLs and then dive deeper if you have the time to work on as many old URLs as possible. 

Additionally, check for other sneaky redirects like 302s and 301. 

Clone to Live Audit

Make sure all the optimization for pages and specific on-page optimization is carried over to the live site from the clone site. 

This is important for websites that have a lot of dynamic content because sometimes data and tables can be missed during the migration process. 

For example, if you have optimized all URLs on the clone site stage but the database that they are in doesn’t go live at launch, you will find default URLs and duplicate URLs on pages. 

Performance and code check 

Don’t suppose that the live website’s performance and the staging site will be the same. 

Run checks on the home page and other important pages on mobile as well as desktop to ensure the site passes and achieves grading. 

Also, run a page speed test on the new website. New servers, hosting and other loads can slow down performance that wouldn’t have risen during the staging website. 

Let’s not forget to add the Schema markup that is present on the site. 

Update XML Sitemaps

Once the redirects have been updated and are up to mark with SEO on the live site, it is now time to update your sitemap. 

The new dynamic sitemap should include the whole set of URLs destinations.

For static sitemaps, generate a new sitemap, audit it and then submit it. 

It is important to note that you have to be sure your XML sitemap file is in the best shape possible. no URLs should be 404 errors. All URLs have a destination instead of redirects that are canonical to other versions. 


Once all the hard work of migration and conducting SEO tests are done it is the stage for monitoring. 

For the next couple of 4-8 weeks, crawl your website and use tools like Bing Webmaster Tools to check for 404 errors, crawl eros, HTML problems, or any other issues and tackle them as soon as possible. 


SEO is a lifelong commitment. Once the monitoring phase is done and dusted, it’s time to create an SEO plan and go with it. 


Site migration can be very hectic and confusing, it is important to make lists and checklists and follow through with them. They can simplify your work and let you focus on more difficult tasks at hand. 

Leave a Reply