Most of the time, when a website is redesigned, the goal is to upgrade the content management system or change the look of the website. I’ve been through redesigns and usually the owner wants a sleeker, less cluttered look. A lot can happen in the process – moving or deleting of content, duplication of pages, 404 pages, etc. If you want to reap the benefits of a redesign, you have to think about much more than the new look. All the changes you make may not be beneficial ones for your website and you’ll end up with a big mess to clean up.
A page on your website ranks well for its target keyword, but there’s a lot of text and it’s outdated looking. You want to get rid of content. Before you start eliminating content, remember that the reason the page was ranking well for the content in the first place was the amount and quality of the text on it. You can find a cleaner, more organized way to present that content using boxes, sub-headings, bullets, changing fonts and the lay-out. But, if you’re paring down to bare bones, the page is going to decline in its ranking.
If you have more than one page addressing the same topic, combining them would be smart. Perhaps it’s a case of duplicate content and you can create one, much higher quality page. Don’t just delete the page you won’t be using. Be sure to 301 redirect it to the page that’s staying so that page can reap the benefits of any links built to the old page.
If you move content to a new url, remember to redirect the old url to the new one. Don’t leave the old content up or you’ll have duplicate content on your site. But, don’t create new urls just to add keywords to the url string. It’s better to leave the url alone than create a new url and redirect the old one.
Adding Search Filters
In order to make things easier to find on a website, many webmasters add additional search filters. Remember that each filter option generates a new url. When the original page already offers up all the information that is served up on the filtered search results, each filtered search result url created is offering duplicate information. You can block the filtered search results options to prevent these urls from being crawled.
If you have a really long page and you’ve decided to break it up into several pages, you need to implement the correct code for pagination, i.e. rel next, rel previous. If you don’t, then you won’t have control over which page comes up in search results and you’ll also be dealing with duplicate information on these pages.
WWW vs. Non-WWW
Some how or another, even if the www, non-www versions of the website were properly handled in the original version of the website, the problem manages to crop up again in the process of redesigning. Stick with one version, internally link to one version, and be sure to configure the server to count both versions of the page as the same page so you don’t have duplicate content and split the link juice.
There’s much more to a redesign than the design. Don’t set yourself back by ignoring the consequences of moving content and changing the urls.