Think you're ready to redesign your website? Check out these tips first to enjoy a smooth, rewarding launch experience.

Launch day is finally here. You've spent months in development; researching audiences, fine-tuning designs and preparing content. Your new and improved website promises to wow users and catapult your online presence to new levels. However, if you've failed to consider and prepare for one often overlooked detail, you may find yourself in an SEO slump that leaves stakeholders and team members asking, “What went wrong?” 

Avoid this decrease in rankings and organic search traffic with a few precautionary steps and enjoy a smooth, rewarding launch experience.

1. Inventory your site
Indexing your site and cataloging content and links will help ensure everything is migrated or 301 redirected to the new domain and site architecture. When doing a redesign, URLs can change. If you don’t inform search engines of this change you risk a significant drop in rankings and traffic. Doing a thorough inventory of your site will reveal your current URLs and allow you to create an effective 301 redirection plan.

2. Conduct an SEO audit
An SEO audit will help you identify strengths, weaknesses, risks and opportunities within your current site. This knowledge will equip you to make effective choices for what should be migrated and what should be left behind. The more thorough the audit, the more effective the road map for the new website.

3. Analyze your site report
Review and analyze your current site reporting before migrating your site. Pay close attention to popular content, pages and referring site reports. Knowing which pages are most visited will give you a better idea of which pages need to be prominent on the new site and easily accessed by your users. Keep in mind that the top visited pages may be saved as bookmarks by your users and must have 301 redirects upon launch to avoid lost traffic and frustrated users.

4. Perform an inbound link analysis & SEO maintenance
Inbound links are a strong asset in SEO and page ranking. When you change your URL structure, you risk losing these powerful SEO tools. Familiarize yourself with these inbound links and make sure they are carried over properly during the migration.

5. Deploy a 301 redirection plan
One of the most important steps in a website redesign is to ascertain that all URLs from the old site accurately redirect to their new counterparts. Doing so will pass PageRank from your older pages to your new ones and allow you to maintain search equity. The SEO information gained in the steps above must be considered and dealt with appropriately in this 301 redirection plan. If you do only one thing during a redesign or migration, it needs to be creating an accurate 301 direction plan.