Nowadays, for any business, it is extremely important to have a nice-looking and easy-to-use responsive website. As the limousine industry is continuously changing, redesigning your company’s website is an excellent opportunity to improve your digital marketing, but it can also mean an invitation to disaster if you don’t take all the necessary precautions to ensure a smooth transition from your old website to the new one. Unfortunately, many companies are quick to change the design of their websites considering that SEO will transfer over. Sometimes it might, but in other cases, it doesn’t, and companies pay a heavy price.
For many businesses in the ground transportation industry, the resolutions for the new year also included redesigning their websites. We received a lot of questions from worried business owner in the industry and one of them was “Can I redesign the website without killing my SEO?” Of course, if you have a website that search engines already like, you would be reluctant to lose those rankings even if your site is old-fashioned.
In this article, we have put together some of the most important steps you should consider during a website redesign to ensure you don’t lose SEO and rankings. We believe that planning ahead to keep your site ranking intact is much better than trying to fix the problems.
For many businesses in the transportation industry, organic search is the most prominent driver of website traffic. This is the reason why damaging SEO during the redesign process, can be disastrous. During more than 30 years of experience in the transportation industry, we have encountered numerous situations, and the following is a case that we thought you would find interesting.
When the marketing team of one of our clients reached out to us in March 2017, they asked us to get their website on the front page of the search engines. They already had a website with a lot of high-quality, valuable information for their clients, so they asked us to work with what was already there. More than that, during the years, they had gradually built organic traffic and awareness, and even if they were happy with their website, a small facelift was necessary, and they allowed us to make essential changes.
After just a year the number of keywords that our client’s website was ranking for, grew from 500 to 1400. The website’s organic traffic has grown by 166%. To be more specific, Google Traffic has grown by 94%, Bing traffic is up by 54% with Yahoo traffic showing a growth of 150%.
Unpleasant situations can be avoided with proper planning and consideration.
We started with an in-depth analysis, we went through the entire website to double check the information, and only then we started to restructure the website and make it more user-friendly.
We started to restructure the website from the ground-up and we simplified its architecture while keeping the valuable information.
Keyword Expansion Program
The initial keyword program of our client was focused on the multiple services they were offering; we started to expand the long tail keywords that could be built around those keywords. That meant we had to create fresh content for the website to attract more customers. We created a blog section and started publishing high-quality articles. That allowed us to grow the website from less than 100 keywords targeted by search engines, to 2300 keyword for which the website currently ranks in Google and other search engine results. This translated into almost 300% increase in organic traffic going to their website.
So, it is possible to redesign and make important changes to your website without killing your SEO? Yes, it is! But, to maintain and improve rankings and organic traffic during your website redesign, consider the following components:
- Understand what currently works for your SEO
- Know the common issues that come out with a redesign
- A plan of what will be changed on the new website
Below are some of the most essential optimization elements to watch for:
- Understand your current website and what currently works with SEO
If you are running SEO campaigns, and you probably are, a proper evaluation of how your website is doing in terms of SEO is absolutely necessary. You should have an idea of what is working now, from keywords and topics that rank, to pages that bring in organic traffic. This way, you can redesign your website without losing SEO rankings and you can even improve them through the process.
Quick tip: you can conduct an SEO audit to identify your website’s strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities and implement changes while updating your site.
- Common redesign issues
After redesigning their website, many businesses are surprised by the result, and sometimes not in a good way. This is why you should be aware of the things that can be problematic during a redesign. The situations below can cause issues with rankings and organic traffic.
- Content can be removed or changed.
- New content can be added.
- New sections can be added.
- URLs can change.
- Internal link structure can change.
- Protocol may be altered or may change.
- Domain name may change.
- New technical issues can appear.
- What will change during redesign
By knowing what works well with your current website and what can go wrong during the redesign process, you can set goals for the new website; two of them should be preserving the existing traffic and rankings and improving them.
Website redesign best-practices
With a little planning, you can save your SEO even when you redesign your website. The following checklist will help you get the most of your website redesign:
- Keep the old site live on a temporary web address and make sure it can’t be accessed by a crawler.
- Save crawl data even if you store the site on a temporary URL.
- If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – if possible, keep things as they are, especially URLs; changing URLs is a risky business.
- 301 redirects – redirect old URLs to new ones as soon as possible. Of course, it would be great to keep content on the same URLs when redesigning your website but, if this is not feasible, it is crucial to redirect your old URLs and provide your website visitors a pleasant experience.
- Minimize content changes – don’t change the content on your website if it is doing well.
- On-page optimization – by crawling your old site you will be able to easily export the key on-page elements including meta titles, meta descriptions, headlines, keywords, tags.
- Update backlinks – keep a list of sites that send traffic to your website and update backlinks in order to have the new website quickly indexed.
- Internal links – the internal link structure is also very important, so make sure you note any changes in this regard.
- Update XML sitemap – when redesigning your website, you want all the 301 redirects, page structure, sitemap, and navigation to align to help search engines understand the changes as soon as possible.
- Monitor rankings – you should encounter some variations, but things should be back to normal in a month or so after the launch. If you identify any issues, investigate and solve them.
- Monitor and measure organic traffic – it is difficult to track every keyword that drives traffic, so monitor traffic to key pages and see improvements.
- Technical site audit – use a technical site audit tool to give you proactive information about any technical issues.
- Use Google Search Console – this tool will give you valuable information directly from Google.
Updating your website should be an opportunity to improve SEO, maximize traffic and conversion, not compromise them.
We consider that an SEO manager should be involved in the entire redesign process and this is what we do here, at DriveProfit. If you consider a website redesign for your limo business, we are here to help. Our team of professionals is experienced in website design with an eye towards SEO success. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you redesign your website without killing your SEO, and actually improve your rankings in the process.
Also published on Medium.