When redesigning your website, there are many moving parts, departments involved, and missions at stake. From SEO to marketing, development to design, multiple teams must stay on track and communicate on what’s been done and what’s left to do. This website redesign checklist will keep everyone on the same page and moving along to meet your go-live deadline.
Pre-planning for a Website Redesign
- Marketing/content should meet and decide their needs by assessing what they currently have (include landing pages) and where there are gaps in the content strategy.
- Marketing brings in design and development/SEO to figure out the best approach for the new site.
- Analyze traffic and popular pages. Share these with design and development.
- Catalog current pages and broken links.
- Consider changing the URL structures for pages particularly if you have numbers or other non-friendly SEO titles.
- Map 301 redirects from old pages to new ones so everyone understands the content changes and what comes over and what doesn’t. Give serious thought to this before deciding to abandon pages that may affect your authority and the visitor experience when they stumble across broken links.
- Evaluate need for additional technology. Integrations for shopping carts and other pieces are easier to do when you’re completing a redesign.
- Assign concrete deadlines and individual assignments based on feedback from departments.
- Reassess your keyword strategy and decide what long-tail and short-tail words you should optimize for.
Getting Down to the Redesign
- Block search engines from crawling your new site as you design it.
- Assess and remove shady backlinks from the new site/old content.
- Select/create a responsive website design.
- Optimize design elements for screens of different sizes.
- Test your design on all browsers.
- Allow for a test group of people who are not involved in the redesign directly to play with the site. Give them some assignments to find information so you can test the ease of use and navigation.
- Add open graph tags for easy social sharing.
- Make sure your most valuable SEO real estate is optimized for your keywords (things like meta descriptions and headers).
- Ensure the total number of links on the homepage is less than 100.
- Don’t redirect more than 3 times. Any more than that and Google’s not likely to follow to your final destination.
- Ensure your drop-downs are crawlable (or will be once you direct search engines to do so).
- Tease people on social media about your awesome new site design and how it’s coming soon.
- Run a contest based on audience questions and feature them in a blog post on the new site. Build buzz. Get people excited about the new launch.
The Final Steps of Your Website Redesign
- Draw a final line in the analytics sand so you know your stats before the new design goes live and you can measure what happens after it does.
- Test your 301 redirects and other links with a redirect checker.
- Unblock your website so search engines can crawl your marvelous new design.
- Submit your XML sitemap in webmaster tools.
- Share your website redesign on social.
- Write blog posts or record video on what you learned in your relaunch or ways to use the new site and its functionality.
- Keep an eye on the number of pages indexed. You should see a decrease (in future weeks) as the search engines crawl the new pages.
- Watch your analytics. Make sure you’re not seeing drastic negative changes in your rankings.
- Report on your data.
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