Building a new website is both exciting and scary for businesses. Companies are given the chance to design something more visually impressive, but getting the design right can sometimes come at the expense of Google and other search engine rankings.
This article explains the most important steps needed to retain (or improve) your website rankings in Google when launching a new website.
Before any design takes place, determine your goals are and how your website can help you achieve them. Goals can include generating new leads from people in Brazil or becoming a leader in a niche like WordPress website development.
Once your goals are determined, decide what keywords are important for reaching the goals. For example, “Web design Brazil” will target leads from people looking for Web design in Brazil. While “Web design WordPress” can attract companies who are looking for an agency that can design a WordPress content management system (CMS) website.
This is the foundation for the website. These keywords should be passed along to everyone in the design and development process at the start of the project.
Developing Structure and Sitemaps
Google tries to display the pages with the best answers to the user’s search query. Determine how many pages you need and what content should go on those pages to answer questions associated with the most relevant keywords.
Make Content Readable
My rule of thumb – let designers design. However, designers need to know not everything can be an image or built in flash. Google needs to determine what your content is about. If the content is all in an image, then Google can’t read it.
So if an image has text, take the text out of the image and use CSS to stylize the text. Instead of making menu items images, use CSS to stylize them. This will help Google determine the content of your website.
Put the Keywords in Your Content Copy
To rank high in Goggle, your website’s content should contain the keywords you are aiming for to reach your goals. It also should also contain variations because it also needs to NOT be spammy. Just let the copywriters write. They usually will contain your keywords. If not, adjust.
Apply On-page Tactics
This step is usually done by an SEO expert after the website has been built and ready for the launch. Make sure alt tags, meta tags, page titles, and such are correct and in sync with the keyword goals. (25 ways to make your website Google friendly)
On-page factors are very important make a big difference in rankings.
Set Up 301 Redirects
This, in my view, is the most important step. With this step you can either lose or keep your rankings. Setting up 301 redirects passes “link juice” from the old pages to new the website pages.
To set up redirects, you need to examine your old sitemap alongside the new one. Determine where each old page should redirect the user visit. For example, does the old website “services.php” page redirect to a new “web-design.php” page or to the same “services.php” page
This step requires someone who is experienced in setting up 301 redirects.
Creating and Sending Sitemaps
The final step is creating an HTML sitemap that allows the Google bots to find and crawl all your new website content pages.
Similarly, you can create an XML sitemap and send it directly to Google via webmaster tools. Do this after the website is launched. Google will load all the URLs and then begin to crawl them.
Test and Monitor
I call this prayer time – hoping everything goes smoothly. Once launched, go through the new website pages and make sure all the coding is correct. Go to the old URLs to confirm the redirects work. Monitor the error logs.
Review the rankings in a few days to make sure the website did not fall off the search engine planet. If it did, then you can contact us and we can help you figure it out.