Rebuilding and relaunching the website need a proper plan. One wrong step could ruin your years of SEO work. Three requirements to execute a successful relaunch are Responsive design, no losses of search engine traffic and a keeping current version of CMS. In this post, I’ll summarize the most important steps and most common mistakes to prevent the successful website relaunch.
1. Mark the Current Metrics
First of all, it is necessary to keep current metrics such as traffic, conversion rate, visit time and bounce rates so that we can compare it with the metrics after relaunch and measure the success of the whole transformation. These metrics should be monitored at least for a period of 2-3 months to have meaningful figures. Free tools such as Google Analytics, Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) give an indication of the current status.
2. Defining Goals and Requirements.
It is also important to consider technical feasibility when defining the requirements and objectives of the new website. It is therefore advisable to put the project manager, at least one developer, as well as the customers themselves together at the beginning of the project. Together, one creates realistic requirements, which make sense both from a technical, as well as from a content and graphical point of view in order to achieve an optimal result.
3. Use the Appropriate CMS
Every software and content management system have its advantages and disadvantages. However, the right choice is crucial for long-term success. Staying with an existing system also means that the editors are already well-trained in the content management. However, it may well be that over the course of time it has become clear that the existing software has not met all expectations. Word press is considered the best CMS for websites, however, there are some cases when Word Press does not meet the requirement of the website to archive the desired results.
4. Create Mockups and Wireframes
Now that there is a concept for the new website, it is important to make clear how the structure of the main page and internal pages. To do this, you can use tools for mockups and wireframes in order to keep the “design effort” as low as possible and to provide the customer with an accurate idea of the later page division and usability. Mockups & wireframes are colorless layouts of the individual page elements and far from as complex as creating a complete design in Photoshop or other image processing programs. Mockups save resources and those saved resourced could be used to do the best website design and relaunch.
5. Setting up a Test Environment & Development
A stable development environment is an important quality for a successful relaunch. It is particularly important to ensure that PHP, MySQL, database conventions and character sets are the same so that the latter move will not lead to complications due to outdated software or different language settings.
6. The right SEO Strategy
In a relaunch, SEO can go a lot. The most frequent source of errors is non-existent or unsuitable 301 redirects, the so-called “permanent redirects”. The following scenario: Google has index the URL www.yourdomain.com in the index, but due to the relaunch it’s now www.yourdomain.com/en. If you do not pass this URL further, there is a 404 error and the page flies to short or long on the search engine index. Thus all positions and keywords are lost and you start again at zero with the SEO ranking.
This SEO checklist helps you with the website relaunch:
Does the URL structure change? If so, I can intercept them individually or generically by regular expressions
What happens to pages that may not exist anymore? Where do these content now go?
Are the meta descriptions and title tags in the new page set to optimize?
Is a Sitemap already installed?
Extremely important in e-Commerce: Do the images have meaningful file names so that they also have the chance to rank in Google Image Search?
A processing of this checklist can be very complex, but worthwhile in any case. In the case of doubt in the implementation, you should be careful, because any changes could do more harm than good.
7. Making it Live
The test environment is running smoothly, the customer has taken the project and is satisfied with the implementation. Now it is time to make all the changes on live website and ensure a minimum downtime of the website
8. Test, test, test
Now it’s time to test the new website thoroughly. This includes the correct linking of the menus, access to the individual pages, assessment of the different content elements and – most importantly – the test of contact/query forms. Not testing the contact form could result in a huge number of sales.
9. 404 and other Crawl Errors
Once a stable functionality of the web server and the software used is ensured, crawling and 404 errors should be observed and eliminated as quickly as possible. Various tools such as “ScreamingFrog SEO Spider” or “Google Search Console” comes in handy to locate them. Taking too much time to correct the broken link could deindex the link completely from Google, which should be avoided in any case.