Revamping a High-Ranking Website: Strategies for a Successful Relaunch

Losing Google Rankings Post-Relaunch

Launching a new website often sparks anxiety, especially when high Google rankings are at stake. The fear of a traffic dip, lead decline, and sales slump can be overwhelming after investing countless hours and thousands of dollars. However, a relaunch doesn’t have to be nerve-wracking. Adhering to best practices can not only maintain but potentially enhance existing rankings.

Drawing from extensive experience in relaunching high-ranking websites, we present curated best practices alongside a comprehensive 55-point Website Launch Checklist, crucial for websites heavily reliant on search engine traffic.

Focus AreasPre-Launch PreparationPost-Migration Technical Focus
Count Pages“site:” search or Google Search ConsoleImplement 301 Redirects
Crawl WebsiteXenu Link Sleuth or Screaming Frog (Optional)Outreach to Editors for Link Updates
Identify Ranking PagesGoogle Analytics or SEMrushReview Robots.txt File
Pages with AuthorityGoogle Search Console or MOZ Link ExplorerVerify Sitemap.xml File
Enhance ContentUpgrade content, reinforce relevanceCreate a Custom 404 Page

Pre-Launch Preparation: Safeguarding SEO Rankings

To retain rankings, ensure all high-ranking pages seamlessly transition to the revamped site and remain discoverable by search engines.

Let Google Count Your Pages

Begin by letting Google count your pages through a simple “site:” search or refer to the Google Search Console’s Index Status report for a more accurate count.

Crawl Your Website (Optional)

Tools like Xenu Link Sleuth or Screaming Frog can crawl websites for potential migration. Alternatively, extract data directly from Google Analytics, focusing on pages that truly matter.

Identify Pages Already Ranking

Use tools like Google Analytics Queries Report or SEMrush to pinpoint pages ranking on search engines. Prioritize pages with high traffic and incoming links.

Locate Pages with Authority and SEO Value

Discover pages linked from other sites using Google Search Console’s Linked to Your Site report or MOZ Link Explorer’s Top Pages report. Redirect these pages to maintain SEO and referral traffic.

Enhance Content During Migration

Use the relaunch as an opportunity to upgrade content. Reinforce relevance for ranked phrases, add detail, examples, and video content. Aim for 1500 words per page.

Post-Migration Technical Focus: Ensuring a Seamless Transition

With content optimized, shift attention to the technical aspects of the relaunch.

Implement 301 Redirects

Create 301 redirects for pages from the old site to their corresponding URLs on the new site. Prioritize URLs based on importance and rely on CMS tools for efficiency.

Outreach to Editors for Link Updates

Reach out to editors of sites linking to old URLs. Request updates directing links to the new addresses on the revamped site for preserving authority.

Review Robots.txt File

Inspect the website’s robots.txt file and remove any “NOINDEX” tags added during development to avoid erasing search engine rankings.

Verify Sitemap.xml File

Examine the sitemap.xml file to confirm that it lists all prioritized URLs from the site.

Create a Custom 404 Page

Enhance the 404 error page by adding links to relevant sections, guiding users back to valuable content.

By meticulously following these best practices, you can navigate the complexities of a website relaunch with confidence, ensuring minimal disruption to SEO rankings and a seamless transition to a new digital landscape.