In the last post, we talked about how SEO is affected when you change domains for your website. Now, let's discuss what happens to SEO with a website redesign.
First, let's assume that you aren't changing domains or altering your URL structure. If you are, then you run the risk of broken links, 404 errors, and Google being very angry at your error-ridden site. Refer to our article linked above for advice on what to do when you switch domains, and this article for further information.
If you're just redesigning your site and not touching anything having to do with the URL, you shouldn't have too much to worry about from an SEO perspective. All of your content should stay in tact; you're simply changing the way it's being displayed to the world. Still, there are a few things worth noting:
1. Optimise New Theme Files
When you switch from one WordPress theme to another, all of the files used to organise and display your website are swapped out for new ones while your content (pages, blog posts, images) stay in tact.
What this means is that any optimisation that was done on those old theme files will be lost when you go live with your new website. Typically the header and footer files are where most optimisation is done (for example, altering the logo's alt tag in the header or adding a business address or keywords to the footer).
To re-optimise these elements, hover over Appearance in your WordPress dashboard. First, click Theme Options if it's there; if not, click Editor. Theme Options is a more user-friendly way to alter your theme, while Editor requires you to be familiar with code in order to make any changes (i.e. do NOT touch the Editor if you do not understand PHP).
2. Re-Insert Google Analytics Tracking Code
Similar to the above, you'll want to ensure that your Google Analytics tracking code is transferred from the old site to the new site. If it's not, then you'll lose data on your site traffic.
There will often be a text box designated for this tracking code under your Theme Options. If there is, just copy and paste the code here and you're all set.
If you don't have Theme Options, you'll want to add the tracking code via the Editor. Click on the header.php file on the right side of the Editor, then paste your Google Analytics tracking code just before the <*/head> tag.
3. Double Check For Broken Links
Lastly, though it's unlikely you'll find any broken links, you should definitely comb through all of the pages on your website to ensure that links are working properly. Check your navigation menus, your sidebar, your pages, and your posts and correct any links you find that are broken.
If your website has too many pages to check, consider signing up for software that can run a site audit for you. Our Melbourne SEO specialists recommend SEMrush.