If your site is outdated and could use a major refresh, it’s probably time to do a redesign. The trouble is that you don’t want to lose the hard work you’ve put into your site in terms of SEO and placement. Surely you’ve heard at least one horror story of how a site’s redesign messed with these factors and pushed them down in the rankings. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to give your site the refresh it needs without hurting your hard earned SEO.

Assess Your SEO Strategy

Before doing anything to your site, it’s a good idea to take a look at your SEO strategy and determine which keywords and landing pages provide the most value. You can then use these elements in your redesign. A simple evaluation also tells you which pages and keywords are not performing well. You may address these issues and make adjustments so that the pages are more engaging to visitors. This approach can actually improve your SEO.

Optimize Each Page

As you reorganize, add and change content, make sure that you keep optimization at the forefront. Instead of keeping on-page optimization stable, work on improving it. Make adjustments to keywords that need it, review titles and description tags and inspect site URLs. Check for broken links or inconsistent anchor text as well.

Implement 301 Redirects

If it’s possible to keep the same URL structure, this will be helpful to your SEO. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. If you reorganize your content or move to a new platform, your existing URL structure won’t work. In this case, use 301 redirects to permanently redirect one URL to the next. This retains rankings and preserves links by guiding old URLs to the new ones.

Use HTML and XML Sitemaps

By creating HTML and XML sitemaps, you are helping the search engines discover content that has been moved to new URLs. HTML sitemaps are also useful for visitors, as they can discover new or existing content, too. By submitting your XML sitemap to the search engines and adding 301 redirects, you’re helping your site’s content to be crawled and indexed efficiently.

Monitor and Measure Your New Site

When your site goes live, you’ll want to monitor its rankings and traffic. If the rankings haven’t improved, go back and address the above factors. Other things to look for include engagement, traffic and conversion rates. A site redesign is not a one-time event, and you will need to monitor, measure and improve your site over time for the best results.