The SEO Audit Before a Relaunch or Redesign

The SEO Audit Before a Relaunch or Redesign pixelwork

The SEO Audit Before a Relaunch or Redesign


So you're going to redesign and relaunch your website. Congratulations! Without a doubt, it is an important task. But before the relaunch, you may want to perform a SEO audit, just to be sure. A proper SEO audit identifies potential SEO pitfalls before you launch, giving you time to resolve issues before replacing your current website.

Unlike a general SEO audit on your website, a relaunch site audit is a little different, as you're looking at and comparing two different sites: the old site vs. the newly designed site. Relaunch audits also come with their own set of challenges.

Many of the tools used to perform an audit require that a website be accessible on the web to scan the site, but when redesigning, the new website may be hidden behind password-protected doors or may be on an internal server. , Inaccessible to these tools.

When conducting a relaunch audit, I divide it into two main pieces: pre-launch and post-launch.


Pre-launch audit

While you can wait until after the relaunch to perform an SEO audit, wouldn't it be better to capture most of the SEO errors before launching your new site?

I have worked with many clients who engage with web design companies. If the web design company is not on retainer and SEO issues are not detected before the relaunch, you could face additional costs after the relaunch is completed and any newly discovered SEO issues are addressed.

Therefore, address most of this (if you can) in a pre-launch audit, while the web design is under contract and the content management system (CMS), files, images and more are being edited.

Your pre-launch audit should cover at a minimum:

  • Google Analytics Analysis
  • Technical review
  • Content review
  • Link Review
  • Benchmarking

Some audits may go beyond these five points, but these are a good place to start.


1.- Google Analytics Analysis

When relaunching your website, you'll want to ensure that your web analytics continue to seamlessly track from version to new version. It would be terrible if you were collecting data year after year, only to discover later that your tracking was inconsistent! Make sure that your analytics tracking code is on every page of the new site and that it is programmed correctly.

Are you using Google Tag Manager (GTM)? If not, now is a good time to integrate it. I tend to recommend GTM to my clients as it makes adding additional marketing tags to a site much easier and doesn't require a web designer or developer to help every time you need a tracking pixel added to the site.

If you're adding GTM for the first time, remember to remove any Google Analytics code from the site and add it through GTM instead. The same goes for other pixels and conversion tracking scripts: make sure you move them to GTM and don't duplicate them on pages.

Finally, when the new site is live, if you use Google Analytics, be sure to add an annotation so you can easily identify the relaunch date when looking at the charts.


2.- Technical review

Technical issues can really hurt SEO. You may know how SEO works on your existing site, but do you know how your new design, layout, images and code will work? Often it won't be an apples to apples comparison.

One of the Most common SEO technical trapsWhat I have witnessed with a relaunch is not accounting for loading times of a new page. How impactful can page speed be? This company did not make any other changes to their site for content or design. Just moved everything to a new CMS. Almost immediately, you lost almost 15% of your organic traffic from Google:


In this company's case, the new CMS increased page load times enough to drop about 20 rankings for high-traffic keywords and non-commercial words on page two of Google search results. That's the impact page speed can make!

If your test site is accessible on the web, even for a short period of time, I recommend that you test it using the tool Google Insights PageSpeed to evaluate the loading times of your page before its launch. Not only will you learn from the page load score, but Google will provide detailed suggestions to improve page speed on desktop and mobile versions of the website.

Are you changing servers with this re-release? Not all servers and hosts are created equal, and some are not as fast at loading your pages. Test the time using ByteCheck. Compare your current server with the new one. Is the new server at least as fast in receiving the first byte as the old one?

I have often seen test sites have a robots.txt file that prohibits Googlebot and other search bots from indexing because it is a test site. That's a valid approach, but be sure to test your site immediately after relaunch to make sure the test robots file isn't carried over to the new site. If so, then your live site will stop showing in search engine results very quickly.

Is the site responsive? It's much easier to add now than after the relaunch, when you'll have to re-engage with web designers. Check out the page on the Google Mobile Testing Tool. Most of Google and Bing's mobile requirements focus on design issues, so it's helpful to find those issues before they launch and rectify them before they are implemented.

Does the new site use structured markup? As with GTM, a relaunch represents a good time to update site templates and code. Even if there are no rich snippets for a particular schema category. Structured markup is used in a number of ways by search engines.


3.- Content review

One of the common problems I have found on websites is the size of the images. Many times when you are using a CMS (content management system), the people who update the content of the website are not web designers. That's the beauty of a CMS, it helps everyone in an organization contribute to the website without requiring much (if any) technical knowledge. But this can lead to big problems in the way of page speed due to image loading. Here's an example of how this happens.


The image at the top is the size shown in the blog post where it appears. The image at the bottom is the actual size of the image that was uploaded. Uploading a large photo for a smaller space is a waste of file size and page load time. It takes your page longer to load a large file than a small one.

Fortunately, many CMSs have plugins to solve this problem. Personally, I use the plugin WP Image Size Limit for WordPress to restrict the magnitude of image upload size.

If you are rewriting the site's content, have you reviewed your keywords? Are there keywords you want to optimize for, but there is no suitable page on your current site for them? Consider creating a new page where needed on the new site.

Can you edit the title tag and meta description tag on each page? If you are using a CMS, you may also need a plugin to be able to edit these fields. For WordPress, I use the plugin Yoast SEO to edit title tags and meta descriptions.

If you have a CMS, will you dynamically create and update your Sitemap XML? Here again, I find that many CMSs need a plugin to do this. The Yoast SEO plugin also performs this task.

If your URLs are changing, which can be common with a new CMS, have you mapped and scheduled your 301 redirects? Scheduling 301 redirects is essential if you're relaunching to ensure that when those URLs change, Google and the other engines can find the content in its new location. Here is an example of a website that relaunched using a new CMS with new URLs and did not schedule 301 redirects:


This screenshot is from a client who came in after a relaunch when they were seeing dramatic drops in site traffic. As you can see here from Google Search Console, everything was purring well until the relaunch, when the number of URLs not found by Googlebot shot up to over 15.000! They did not do 301 redirects. If you are using a Linux server (PHP and WordPress), then you can easily schedule these redirects using the .htaccess file.


4.- Link review

If your domain isn't changing and you take care of those 301 redirects, the inbound link might not be a major issue with a relaunch. However, you certainly want to be sure to optimize your internal links from page to page on your site. Without a doubt, if you are in the process of adding or editing content, it is a good time to add internal links to pages.

Google Search Console shows you the current internal links it sees on your site. When updating content, are there places you can add appropriate additional internal links?


4.- Benchmarking

Finally, just before the relaunch goes live, I like to compare my SEO metrics. What is the site's organic traffic from various search engines? What are the current rankings for several high-traffic keywords? You'll use this baseline data after the relaunch goes live to monitor and make sure your SEO stays on course.


Post-launch audit

After the new website is live, you'll need to monitor it closely for changes in organic traffic and rankings. I like to run checks internally every day for about two weeks to ensure everything stays on track, comparing daily data to my benchmark for signs of dips in organic traffic.

If you start to see declines or losses, diagnose the problem quickly. Have some pages stopped receiving organic traffic? Check your 301 redirect for that page. Have certain pages dropped in organic traffic or ranking compared to the benchmark? Determine what changes occurred on that page – Could it be the page loading speed or the image size?

Even if you have to delay a relaunch program, it is much better to ensure that your redesigned site will be launched as SEO-friendly, as it can help you maintain the rankings and traffic you may have compared to the old site and grow. With the launch of the new site.

Source: Janet Driscoll CEO of Marketing Mojo