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Website redesign and SEO: how to redesign without killing your SEO

When done correctly, website redesign can actually improve your rankings, not ruin them. Here's how to approach it.

8 March, 2024
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Chances are, your website needs a redesign. If you’re still hesitant, first check out our post where we listed the top 10 most telltale reasons for a website redesign, then come back.

You are also right about worrying about your SEO. However, when done correctly, website redesign can actually improve your rankings, not ruin them.

Let us teach you how to approach your website redesign in a way that not only doesn’t mess with your SEO but makes it better.

Want to have an efficient, business-oriented design?

View a recorded webinar with Pavel Tseluyko on how design adds value to your business.

Watch now

Website redesign and SEO - what’s the connection?

The biggest connection between website redesign and SEO is rooted in the need to update and improve a website while ensuring that such changes do not adversely affect its search engine rankings and visibility.

Typically, a website redesign can significantly impact SEO, as it involves updating the site's look, theme, and possibly its content management system or URL structure, which can affect search rankings and, ultimately, your sales and visibility online.

Impact on SEO rankings

The redesign process can intensely affect your website's SEO rankings. Changes in the site's structure, content, and UX influence how search engines like Google understand and rank the site. 

This is because search engines value user experience, site speed, mobile responsiveness, and content relevance when determining rankings.

A useful tip from our Marketing Manager, Anastasiia Ulianovska:


Anastasiia Ulianovska


Marketing Manager

Let’s not mess with our best pages too much during the redesign. You don’t want to lose your organic traffic and potential customers. You can add some new things and tweak the layout a bit, but let’s keep the main structure and important keywords unchanged.

Redesign step-by-step: redesign one page, see how it affects your website metrics, assess whether you’ve lost significant traffic, and if not, proceed with the redesign.

User experience

You need to update your website's design to meet modern UX standards, which is directly connected to SEO. 

Google and other search engines reward sites that provide a good user experience, such as fast loading times, mobile responsiveness, and easy navigation. 

So, a redesign that focuses on these aspects will, on the contrary, improve your website SEO building and performance.

Need for an SEO-driven approach

A data-driven approach to redesigning websites is where you focus on understanding what currently works well on a website in terms of SEO. 

Protecting and building on these strengths while addressing weaknesses will help you ensure that the redesigned website retains its existing search engine rankings and is more successful afterward.

Top redesign website SEO fails

Top redesign website SEO fails
Top redesign website SEO fails

To not mess up with your SEO during a redesign, avoid the following six mistakes:

  1. Neglecting it from the beginning. One of the biggest mistakes during a website redesign is not considering SEO from the start. It’s crucial to involve an SEO expert early in the process to ensure that the new design accommodates existing SEO strategies.
  2. Unnecessary URL modifications. URLs hold significant SEO value, and changing them can disrupt the indexing and ranking of your pages. If there's no compelling reason to change a URL, it's best to keep it as it is.
  3. Ignoring crucial content and pages. During a redesign, it’s important to identify and preserve the content that performs well in search and conversion. This includes high-converting pages, popular blog posts, and other content that attracts traffic.
  4. Redirection to the homepage. This is a common mistake that can dilute SEO efforts. When pages are removed, or URLs are changed, redirecting them all to the home page can result in a poor user experience and loss of specific page authority.
  5. Forgetting to update and submit the new sitemap. An updated sitemap is essential for helping search engines efficiently crawl and index the new site structure. Failing to create and submit a new sitemap post-redesign can slow down the re-indexing process, affecting the site’s visibility and ranking.
  6. Overlooking SEO testing before launch. Before going live, it’s crucial to test the new site for potential SEO issues, such as broken links, missing meta titles and descriptions, incorrect use of header tags, and mobile responsiveness.

Does your website meet your conversion benchmarks?

Not quite? We have solutions to get you there.

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Website redesign SEO checklist

By following best practices and focusing on SEO from the initial stages of a redesign and afterward as well, you can successfully update their websites without sacrificing your SEO achievements. We’ve prepared for you 20 tested tips and tricks on how to do it.

What to do before redesigning your website

First, a set of guidelines on what to do right before the redesign to mitigate negative SEO impacts and ensure a smooth transition to a more modern, user-friendly, and SEO-optimized website.

Create a copy

Create a copy of your live website on a staging site to manage the redesign process without affecting the live user experience. Make sure it is blocked from search engines (tip 10) to avoid duplicate content issues. Create a backup of your theme files, plugins, and database to revert to the previous version if needed.

Audit your staging platform

You can also conduct tests in a staging environment to check functionality and prevent indexing issues that could lead to duplicate content penalties from search engines. Check for errors or issues that could affect SEO, especially if comprehensive changes were made. Pay attention to common issues like combined pages, deleted pages, and URL changes.

Take inventory 

Document all URLs from the current site, and plan the URL structure for the new site. This is crucial for maintaining link equity and site structure. 

Audit your site's SEO features, including sitemap, headings, metadata, and canonical tags. Also, consider adding missing assets like a contact form or a service selection page.

Plan for 301 redirects

Prepare a comprehensive redirect strategy for any URL changes. To address issues from combining or deleting pages and changing URLs, implement 301 redirects to forward old URLs to new ones, maintaining the SEO value of the original pages. This helps avoid traffic loss and preserves search rankings.

Identify any existing broken links on your current site and ensure they are corrected in the redesign. Broken links can harm your SEO and user experience.

"Coming Soon" page

You can also use a "Coming Soon" or “Site Under Maintenance” page in place of your existing site. Prevent visitors from encountering broken pages or links by activating this maintenance mode during the redesign process.

Does your website meet your conversion benchmarks?

Not quite? We have solutions to get you there.

Learn more

Mix text and images in website content for SEO

Make sure your new homepage isn't solely composed of visuals. Google relies on text content to understand your website's context. 

Aim for a balanced mix of text and images, utilizing proper headers and ensuring text integrates well with design elements to keep it visually interesting. 

Look for opportunities to add meaningful content to your site during the redesign to improve your site's relevance and authority.

Maintain the structure 

Aim to maintain the content and structure of your web pages unchanged. If changes are necessary, again, use 301 redirects for any altered or removed pages or URL structures.

Check your current SEO

Collect and export SEO data, including top-performing blog posts, pages, keyword rankings, and individual page ranks, to compare performance post-redesign.

Noindex the test site

When preparing your redesigned website on a separate server, add the noindex meta tag or block it in robots.txt to avoid creating duplicate content issues with Google. This prevents the test site from being indexed.

What to do after redesigning your website

The next thing is to do some maintenance and “fixing” magic to preserve your hard-earned search rankings and ensure a smooth transition to your new website design SEO-friendly edition. Here’s the detailed after-care plan for SEO in website development and redesign.

Check meta titles and descriptions 

Verify that each page on the new site has a relevant and optimized meta title and description, especially if content changes are made. Transfer them from your old site to the new one. Consider performing an audit to update or improve these elements for better performance.

Check your sitemap

Update your sitemap to reflect the new site structure and submit it to search engines (typically Google). This helps search engines find and index your new content more efficiently.

Monitor bounce rates

Analyze your bounce rate before and after the redesign. An increased bounce rate will indicate issues with the new design or user experience that need to be addressed.


Activate your website

Ensure the site can be found by search engines by removing staging site restrictions, reindexing the site, and setting up tracking codes for data collection.

Recreate important pages

Use Google Analytics or Google Search Console to identify pages that received traffic in the last 90 days to six months. Ensure these pages are recreated on your new site with identical URL slugs to maintain their search engine visibility.

Update and optimize images

Before uploading new images, rename the files for SEO and add descriptive alt text for improved accessibility and to help search engines understand the images' content.

Set up Google Search Console

Use this tool to monitor and manage your website's performance, submit URLs for indexing, and keep track of your SEO rankings. Then, after the launch, track how your redesigned website performs in SEO rankings and note any fluctuations, allowing for further improvements.

Launch the redesigned website

Publish the new site, remove it from the staging environment, deactivate maintenance mode, and notify visitors about the new design to gather feedback on potential bugs.

​​Post-launch audit 

After going live, rigorously check for errors:

  • Test your top-performing content,
  • verify redirects,
  • ensure the accuracy of meta descriptions, titles, and headings,
  • compare new and old page speeds,
  • remove unnecessary plugins,
  • fix 404 errors,
  • test cross-browser compatibility,
  • ensure mobile responsiveness,
  • and transfer tracking codes.

Don’t drastically change the content volume

Do not suddenly and significantly reduce or increase the number of pages on your site. Such drastic changes can cause issues with Google's indexing and affect your site's credibility and rankings.

Want to have an efficient, business-oriented design?

View a recorded webinar with Pavel Tseluyko on how design adds value to your business.

Watch now

Need help with a redesign?

If, by any chance, you’re still worried that a website redesign will affect your Search Engine Optimization, reach out to Merge for expert website redesign services. Our team knows how to update your site without losing your spot in search results. We plan carefully and use proven methods to make sure your website keeps attracting visitors. 

Let us help you refresh your site in a way that supports your business and keeps all your SEO gains. If you want to know more about the benefits of redesign - check out our website redesign strategy for improved conversions.

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CEO and Founder of Merge

My mission is to help startups build software, experiment with new features, and bring their product vision to life.

My mission is to help startups build software, experiment with new features, and bring their product vision to life.

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