Rebuilding your website: 7 steps and tips to maintain SEO

Every marketing campaign begins with a good company website. It needs to offer a good first impression. Therefore, every business should audit and rebuild their websites every year or so, to keep it looking fresh, on target and up-to-date with best practice.

A good website redesign is more than just switching up the look and feel. It needs to tie into your current and future marketing goals, directly speaking to and reaching your target audience.

One big worry for many business owners is that rebuilding a website will destroy any hard earned SEO. However, if you work with a developer who is fully up to speed with SEO best practice, then your SEO won’t be impacted and is even likely to improve post-build.

Getting a website rebuild right is simple when you follow a few clear steps – of course, you should also consult a professional if you’re stuck on any of the stages.

Step 1: Look at your current website

When rebuilding your website, the first step is to take a cold hard look at your current site. There’ll probably be a thing or two that you don’t like about it (after all, you’re rebuilding it!). It’s vital that you list everything that is and isn’t working for you with your current website, as it gives a good starting point for a website redesign. Delve into your analytics and do some A/B testing to determine what areas of your website are performing well.

Step 2: Know your customers

A website redesign is a good time to revisit your target customers. Sometimes, your customers change as your business goals evolve – or they might remain the same. However, in order to build a website that clearly works and speaks to them, you need to pinpoint exactly who your customers are. Figure out your ideal customer and use this to inform your tone, style, and the user experience of your site.

Step 3: Consider your content

There’s no point in rebuilding your website and keeping old content. A website rebuild must be paired with a reevaluation of your site’s content. Make sure that it’s current and aligns with your company’s goals and target audience.

Consider the keywords that you’re currently using and what you need to reach the right prospects. Incorporate any new keywords (including long-tail keywords) into your new content.

If page names are changing, make sure that you re-direct to the correct pages post-build. List out every link on your website, including within blog posts which can sometimes be overlooked. You don’t want a bunch of ‘Page not found’ 404s when customers are visiting your site. Also, don’t redirect pages of one type to another – a customer won’t want to see an article about cats when they were originally reading one about computers.

Finally, don’t throw away old content that is performing well SEO-wise. Redirect old, valuable links to new ones with your keyword-rich, improved content. Age can help with SEO, so don’t simply throw out an old page because it’s, well, old.

Step 4: Design and wireframe

Wireframing lays out where the different elements or your site will appear on a webpage, including your website hierarchy. From this, you can begin working on your website design. It’s crucial at this stage to prioritise your user experience and you may wish to gain feedback from potential customers.

Step 5: Develop your website (with SEO prioritised)

This is the stage where you hand your design and content over to a web developer. There are some key things to bear in mind at this stage, and to ensure that your developer does. First, make sure any new website theme is built with SEO best practices or that’s it’s bespoke to your company. We’ve seen many occasions where a website’s visual appearance has been improved but its code is so bad that SEO is negatively impacted.

Images should never be used to hold information. Some websites are built in a design software such as Photoshop and then the JPEG image file is simply uploaded. This is terrible SEO practice, and it’s also not mobile-friendly or accessible to the visually impaired. In other words, it’s a huge no no.

Make sure your website is optimised for mobile as many searches now take place on smartphones. Plus, Google won’t rank your website on search results if it’s not mobile  responsive, so you’ll potentially miss out on a lot of new customers.

Step 6: Check, check and check again

Once you have your website pretty much there, it’s critical to check it for any typos and broken links. Finalise your URLs and redirects for any old web pages and troubleshoot your site for any potential issues. To make sure your customers and prospects have a good experience on your website, it’s worth testing it with a group of your target audience. This also offers another set of eyes to spot any mistakes.

Step 7: Launch your rebuilt website

This is the exciting time when you get to show your snazzy new website to the public! Be prepared for any bugs or issues that might arise when you launch it. Double check your site when it is live to ensure everything is working properly.

Once your website has launched, wait a few days and then check your analytics to see how it is performing. Compare these to previous reports to see whether your website rebuild has been a success.

Rebuilding your website is the first step

A full rebuild of your website should occur every few years or whenever your marketing and business goals drastically change. However, improving your website is a continuous practice and mustn’t be overlooked. Analytics can tell you a lot about website performance and areas to improve. Likewise, take on feedback from customers over any part of your site that they don’t like.

In many ways, your website is the first look that someone gets of your company. It needs to accurately convey what you’re about and why you are different. Don’t underestimate the power of your website – or the value of a website redesign.