SEO CHECKLIST FOR A SUCCESSFUL WEBSITE RELAUNCH

SEO CHECKLIST FOR A SUCCESSFUL WEBSITE RELAUNCH

A website relaunch serves to fundamentally revise your website. The artaxo SEO experts will explain when such a relaunch really makes sense and how you can avoid possible risks .

Reasons for a website relaunch

With a website relaunch, you have the opportunity to thoroughly revise your own website: from the website design to the page architecture and the content concept to the content management system and/or shop system. However, such a project is not implemented overnight and requires precise planning. In addition, a complete relaunch is associated with a number of risks: If, for example, the topic of search engine optimization (SEO) is ignored and no forwarding is set up or the documents are not optimized on the basis of a clear keyword strategy, the organic reach, which was often laboriously worked out beforehand, is endangered. A complete website relaunch is not always the most sensible measure. Continuous testing and optimization of the website is often more helpful and advisable.

A website relaunch involves a lot of effort and should therefore be carefully considered. Certainly such a general overhaul of the website is often the right decision. Nevertheless, many companies tend to carry out a complete relaunch every few years, even though this is not necessary. In most cases it makes more sense to continuously work on improving the website. Therefore, weigh up the reasons for a website relaunch carefully in order to make your decision for or against the relaunch.

When is a website relaunch recommended?

  • Design, structure or technical conditions are outdated: If your website is very outdated in terms of design, structure and/or technology or is poorly designed, it is often more effective to fundamentally revise the page than to constantly make small adjustments.
  • CMS/shop system no longer meets the requirements: Especially if your (possibly even self-built) content management system (CMS) or shop system no longer meets the current requirements, a relaunch and switching to another CMS/shop system is a good choice. The same applies if the optimization of various aspects, such as e.g. B. SEO, would be disproportionately expensive.
  • No mobile optimization: A website optimized for mobile devices is essential these days. A responsive design for your website is therefore recommended. If your website has not yet been optimized for mobile devices, a relaunch offers a good opportunity to introduce a responsive design without errors.

When is a website relaunch not recommended?

  • Conversion rate is low: Instead of revising the entire website, it often makes more sense to optimize the conversion rate by changing various landing pages and testing the success of these adjustments.
  • Usability is bad: Poor usability of your website can e.g. B. lead to high bounce rates and have a negative impact on the ranking of your website. Nevertheless, a complete relaunch is usually not necessary and a targeted optimization of individual aspects that improve usability is sufficient.
  • Website traffic is low: Even with low traffic numbers, a website relaunch is not necessarily helpful. Find the causes of the low traffic and fix these problems in a targeted manner. Traffic can already be increased by improving visibility in the search engines or targeted content distribution.
  • Loading times that are too long : Loading times that are too long can lead to a high bounce rate. Nevertheless, a comprehensive website relaunch is usually not necessary for this reason alone. Look for reasons for the long loading times, such as B. image and video files that are too large, missing browser caching or too many plug-ins and fix these problems.

Risks of website relaunch

Especially if you have good rankings in the search engines before the relaunch, this is associated with risks. A revision of your site can lead to ranking losses and the associated decrease in traffic . The reason for this is often that the URLs often change when the page structures change. The redirects required at this pointare often forgotten or incorrectly implemented. As a result, users who call up the old URL are not automatically redirected to the appropriate new URL. Users and also Google bots do not get to where they are supposed to go. The results are a negative user experience and declining rankings. If old URLs have backlinks and are not forwarded correctly, the link power of the backlinks is also lost. This also hurts the ranking of the website.

Avoid these problems by preparing as best you can for your relaunch. Before the relaunch, deal with the necessary steps and think about SEO already in the preparation phase. Our website relaunch checklist gives you an overview of the most important steps.

SEO for website relaunch: checklist

The procedure can be roughly divided into the following three phases:

  1. Pre-launch: preparation phase
  2. Re-launch: implementation phase
  3. Post-launch: follow-up phase

1. Pre-launch: Preparation of the website relaunch

Analysis of the existing website: First, get an overview of the current status of your website. This is the only way you can identify weak points and develop a strategy for your domain.

Page crawl:

  • Crawl your entire site and save it as a backup. In addition, export all important rankings so that you can later understand the changes caused by the relaunch.
  • Our tool tip: Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool , pagerangers

URL structure:

  • Get an overview of the existing URLs. To do this, automatically create an XML or HTML sitemap from your old website. Then identify the URLs and landing pages with high traffic numbers.
  • Our tool tip: Google Analytics , Google Search Console
  • Also, identify URLs with lots of backlinks and social signals.
  • Our tool tip: SISTRIX Toolbox

Keyword analysis:

  • A keyword analysis and subsequent topic channeling will help you to optimize the page structure of your website. To do this, first look at the content of your website, e.g. B. the products and categories. Use keyword tools and find out which keywords your competition ranks for. Then evaluate your keywords using key figures such as search volume and competition. Sort out irrelevant keywords and include relevant keywords. Finally, sort your keywords into higher-level categories and, if possible, note the search intention for each keyword for later optimization.
  • Our too tip: KWFinder , Keyword Planner , Answer the Public

Evaluation of the current state:

You can now evaluate your existing website based on the analyzes carried out. What is good, what is bad and what needs to be changed?

Planning the relaunch:

  • define goals
    • What should the relaunch achieve? Define your goals as specifically as possible so that you can then evaluate the success of your relaunch.
  • Define new navigation structure
    • Your keyword list and topic channeling gives you information about what information your users are looking for and what information belongs together in terms of content. Based on this, you should determine the new website architecture.
    • Our tip: Make sure that your most important categories can be reached with two clicks and the deepest level of the website with less than five clicks.
  • Define URL structure
    • Use your analysis to identify the URLs that should be removed or changed as a result of the relaunch.
    • Our tip: When planning, make sure that each piece of content can only be accessed via a single URL.
  • Distribute tasks and create a schedule
    • Define exactly who takes care of which tasks during the relaunch.
    • Our tip: Create briefings that are as precise as possible for everyone involved and set a schedule with intermediate stages.

2. Re-launch: Implementation of the website relaunch

  • Set up test system
    • Do not carry out your relaunch on the current system. Instead, create your new website in a test system that corresponds to your future live website. This allows you to check your changes as well as possible and identify errors at an early stage.
    • Our tip: Be sure to use server-side directory protection so that the test version is not accessible to everyone during the relaunch. If this is not possible, tag your test system with the “Noindex” tag so that your new website is not yet approved for the index. Be sure to remove this tag when you launch your website.
  • Adjust URL structure
    • During a relaunch, the URL structure is often changed or URLs are deleted. Store 301 redirects for changed URLs so that users can also access the content via the old, known URL. Create the HTTP status code 404 (not found) for deleted pages for which there are no more pages after the relaunch.
    • Our tip: As soon as you have set up the forwarding, you should e.g. B. Crawl the sitemap of the old website with the Screaming Frog. This allows you to ensure that any URLs that will change will correctly 301 redirect to the new URLs.
    • Our tip: Make sure your new URLs are short and easy to understand. Also, place important keywords in the URLs and avoid numbers and special characters.
  • Avoid duplicate content
    • Despite all precautions, duplicate content can occur, e.g. B. if you use parameter URLs or filters on your website. Therefore, carry out an analysis for duplicate content and try to avoid duplicate content if possible.
    • Our tool tip: Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool
  • Check metadata
    • Also check your metadata as part of your relaunch. Adjust the length of the title and description for each URL.
    • Our tip: The important pages should have individual meta data and encourage clicks. In addition, the respective main keyword of the pages should appear in the title and the description.
    • Our tool tip: Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool
  • Optimize texts
    • Revise your texts as part of the relaunch. Divide your text into meaningful sections to make it easier for users and search engines to read. Also pay attention to the linguistic and content quality of the texts and adjust them if necessary.
    • Our tip: Draw your headings as H1-H6 headings. Make sure each page has only one H1 heading that includes the main keyword. Use the results of your keyword analysis for text optimization.
    • Our tool tip: PageRangers , Ryte
  • Optimize images and graphics
    • When relaunching, don’t forget the graphics. Your images should be compressed as much as possible without compromising image quality.
    • Our tip: Use meaningful alt tags and use the main keyword in the alt tag and in the file name. Add relevant text in close proximity to the image.
    • Our tool tip: Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool , Kraken.io
  • Check internal linking
    • If you have created a new URL structure, you should check the internal links . Good internal linking improves the rankings of the most relevant URLs, accelerates the inclusion of new pages in the index and can have a positive impact on user signals.
    • Our tip: Don’t just set links in the menu, but also in the text. Avoid internal links to redirected URLs and use the keyword for the link text of internal links for which the target page was optimized.
    • Our tool tip: Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool , DeepCrawl
  • Optimize loading time
    • The speed of your website has a significant influence on its success and should therefore be checked and optimized. First, identify the items that are causing long loading times and troubleshoot any issues.
    • Our tip: Compress images and graphics, keep CSS and JavaScript “above the fold” low and use browser caching.
    • Our tool tip: PageSpeed ​​Insights
  • Use responsive design
    • A responsive design ensures that your website can be used easily on mobile devices. This in turn can have a positive effect on the user experience.
    • Our tip: Make your website thumb-friendly. Leave enough space between buttons and don’t use fonts that are too small.
    • Our tool tip:  Google Search Console , Am I Responsive , Responsive Web Design Testing Tool
  • Set up tracking
    • Shortly before the relaunch, you should reactivate the necessary tracking pixels on your website. This includes, for example, services such as Google Analytics , which enable the analysis of your website and retargeting. At this point, be sure to pay attention to GDPR compliance .
  • Register domain change
    • If you change domains as part of the relaunch, you should inform the Google Search Console of the new domain shortly before going live.
    • Our tip: Set up a 301 redirect from the old domain to the new one and inform Google about the address change .

3. Post-launch: Follow-up work on the website relaunch

Going live on your website is by no means the end of the relaunch. All changes must now be checked for their functionality and the success of the relaunch evaluated.

  • indexing
    • Create an XML sitemap of your new website and see if it includes all relevant pages. In order for Google to know about your new URLs, you must submit your XML sitemap to the search engine. Also check that the URLs are linked internally, are not set to “Noindex” ( Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool ) and are not excluded via robots.txt ( Google Search Console ).
    • Our tip: You can add your new sitemap to the “Crawling” section of the Google Search Console. Speed ​​up indexing with “Fetch as Google” feature. There you can request indexing for important pages such as the start page and selected overview pages.
  • Check status codes
    • The status codes of your websites should be checked regularly after the relaunch. If necessary, identify internally linked URLs that return the 404 status code. Make sure that only URLs that return a status code 200 are linked internally.
    • Our tool tip: Google Search Console , Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool
  • Check redirects
    • The redirects have an immediate impact on website traffic and ranking. You should therefore definitely check the redirects after going live.
    • Our tip: Check that all old URLs have the correct 301 status code and that they are redirecting to the correct new page. The redirect URLs should have status code 200. For 404 errors, you should adjust the redirects and fix any problems.
    • Our tool tip: Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool
  • Check SSL certificate
    • Your website should be encrypted (https). So check for your domain and for the subdomains whether your SSL certificate is valid.
    • Our tool tip: SSL Checker
  • Check tracking
    • As soon as your new website is online, you should check your tracking for functionality.

Conclusion

A website relaunch is a very complex project. Therefore, a relaunch should not be decided prematurely and carried out too hastily. Instead, plan carefully, especially if your website has good rankings and traffic from organic search. Our SEO checklist for website relaunch will help you to implement your relaunch effectively. 

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