eCommerce Insiders

How to Retain Traffic, Rankings and Sales After Store Redesign

It’s inevitable…

At some point you’ll decide to redesign your store.

Perhaps you’ll get tired of the current design. Or realize it no longer delivers to your customers’ expectations. It doesn’t matter.

What matters is how much the change is going to affect your traffic, rankings and sales.

Launching new URLs will result in losing backlinks. Wrong redirects will cause drop in traffic. New templates might lack their predecessor’s on-page optimization and thus, will no longer rank so well, and so on.

In this post, I’ll detail which SEO elements you need to specifically pay attention to during a store redesign.

Before We Begin….

There is one important thing you must remember when redesigning your store: SEO should be part of this process from the start. Retailers often first do the redesign, and even launch the new store, before getting making sure everything is optimized for SEO. By then it’s often too late. New templates are already coded, URLs set and content has already been hidden behind javascript, for instance.

Fixing many of those and other common errors would require starting from scratch. Not ideal, is it? So if you plan to redesign your store, get an SEO specialist involved from the start. They will be able to look at any of your ideas from a traffic perspective – and spot problems designers and developers are likely to miss. With that out of the way, we can now look at ways to ensure you won’t lose as little traffic as possible after a redesign.

6 SEO Tips for Store Redesign

1. Don’t Change URLs

Chances are, if you’re only changing your store’s theme you won’t be amending URLs or a site structure. But if you’re:

Changing an ecommerce platform? The new platform may create different URLs.

Fixing prior poor URL structure? New slugs are inevitable.

Changing the strategy and site architecture? You’ll have to amend URLs.

Because of these changes, you might run at problems with how Google indexes your site. The search engine might drop certain pages from the index, causing a loss of traffic.

Prevent this by setting up proper redirects between old and new URLs. Ideally, use a 301 redirect to ensure Page Rank passes from old to the new URL.

Backlinks

Changing URLs may have one more negative effect on your SEO – loss of backlinks. Many of your URLs have backlinks pointing to them. New URLs means that those links will now point to pages that no longer exist. 301 redirects help somewhat, but inevitably, some links will be lost in the process. And without them, your store might lose its SEO authority. To ensure this doesn’t happen:

  • Review your current backlink profile. Use software like Majestic SEO to discover all links pointing to your URLs.
  • Redirect whatever links you can to new URLs. Reach out to webmasters behind sites linking to you asking them to amend the link. If that’s not possible, then…
  • Use 301 redirects to direct links from one URL to another. In the process, the redirect will also help to pass some links pointing to the old URL to the new. This however is the least effective method, as not all links will get redirected this way.

2. Keep as Many Pages Live as Possible

During the redesign process you might decide to delete some pages from your site. These might be old resource pages, tutorials you find out-dated, or other content you consider irrelevant. But many of these pages might still be bringing traffic.Removing them could result in drop in visitors. Not to mention that they might have links pointing to them as well. Deleting those URLs might result in loss of precious authority signals and rankings. Therefore, instead of deleting those pages, consider updating them with new content and making them even more attractive to visitors.

3. Don’t Reduce the Amount of Content

Given the effect images have on conversions, you may feel tempted to focus on visual elements on a site while reducing the content. Content, however, is one of the key ranking factors and cutting it from the site will reduce this important relevancy signal, causing a drop in rankings. Instead of replacing content with images, why not try:

  • Using tabs to make content take less space, leaving more area for images.
  • Making pages longer to accommodate both images and content.
  • Using a single video instead of a multitude of images, and so on.

4. Ensure Pages Retain their Optimization

It’s easy for pages to lose their original on-page optimization during redesign. New design might force new content, new templates might not allow optimization in the same way as their predecessors, or might present content differently, using Javascript for instance, rendering it useless from SEO point of view.

Ensure that you optimize your pages to the same level as they were before the redesign. This means ensuring not only that meta-tags are optimized but also ensuring pages load fast and contain no technical errors.

5. Update Sitemaps

With your new store ready, update sitemap(s) to tell Google of any new URLs or site structure changes and help the search engine index your site.

6. Conduct a Site Audit

Lastly, conduct a thorough site audit. But do it twice – once before the redesign process commences, to discover what elements you should fix. Then conduct the audit again after the process concludes. This will help you assess if:

  • Existing problems have been fixed.
  • Pages have lost their on-page optimization.
  • There are any new problems on the site.

Conclusion

Redesigning your store is a tricky process. New design can help refresh your site and increase conversions. But it can also cause a serious drop in traffic, rankings, and revenue. To avoid any of this from happening, involve SEO in the process from the start.

Pawel Grabowski

Pawel Grabowski is a copywriter and content marketer and the founder of UserMagnet.io, the content marketing agency helping SaaS companies grow the user base and generate quality leads with targeted content strategies.

Find out more about Pawel at smashingcopy.com and connect with him on Linkedin.

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