How to launch a new website without losing rankings?

Create websites with good UX and SEO optimization

Launching a redesign of your website can be very complex as well as critical for your business’s survival and lead to huge drops in Google SERP and ultimately lead to huge losses of revenue.

Meanwhile, a relaunch of your website can be necessary and even skyrocket your rankings, you need to be very careful and plan the launch to the slightest detail and make sure that everything is in order.

In this post I’ll guide you through the do’s and don’t to prevent losing critical Google rankings – or at least minimizing the potential damages.

You can never be 100% sure that you will hold on to your current rankings but do not let that spook you as a redesign can also boost your rankings for the better if you have created a better and more user-friendly website.

The basics of relaunching a website

First of all, you should never neglect the possible dangers when you make big changes to your website as a complete redesign. It’s very important to pay attention to every little detail and if you have the slightest doubt, it’s money well spent to consult an external SEO.

It’s a real nightmare for any SEO to deal with the aftermath of a failed relaunch and ultimately end up costing a slight fortune to fix when the damage is done.

Redesigning a website is far from just facelifting your design and publishing changes and involves everything from updating content, navigation, code structure, change of CMS, and creating a better user experience.

SEO plays a crucial role in redesigning your website, and it’s more than just a checkbox on your to-do list. It’s like having a trusted compass guiding every step of your redesign journey. Whether you’re sketching out ideas or launching the final product, SEO is there, influencing everything from how your site is structured to what content it showcases and the tech it runs on.

Why does it matter? Well, think of it as your secret weapon to get noticed in the big phenomena that we call the internet. By weaving smart SEO strategies into your redesign, you’re not only making your site look slick and run smoothly but also ensuring it climbs up those search result rankings. That means more eyes on your content, more clicks, and potentially more business coming your way.

In simpler terms, SEO acts as the magic thread tying together your fancy new design with real-world results. It’s all about making sure your website not only looks good but also performs like a champ in the online arena, helping you reach your goals and shine brighter in the digital world.

Keeping a good balance when launching a website

How bad can a redesign hurt your business?

It depends on your sales channels of course. If Google isn’t a platform that attracts visitors or sales today, you probably won’t feel a change – at least, it can’t decrease numbers that are already at zero.

On the other hand, if your business does rely fully or partly on your Google traffic it can change your current business quite drastically.

So, how bad can it actually be?

Let’s turn the time back to Prime Day in 2018 when Amazon launched the 36-hour sale.

During that time Amazon had website errors that prevented users from buying The opening minutes were the worst part and in general they felt the issues for just 63 minutes.

Based on those website issues it’s estimated that Amazon lost sales for $72,4 million from US consumers.

That’s how bad a failed relaunch can be.

Amazon’s issues weren’t due to relaunch but general website errors and they still ended up breaking all sales records at the time – but It’s fair to assume that they wouldn’t mind that being 72 million more.

To not end up in a situation like that, let’s look into a few tips to implement when you launch a redesign of your website to keep a firm hold on your rankings.

Common pitfalls to avoid

During a website relaunch process, several pitfalls can lead to a direct decrease in rankings. These are important to avoid as these are not only the most common but also the ones with the biggest impacts:

  • Poor site structure: Inconsistent navigation and URL structure can confuse search engines and undermine your site’s visibility.
  • Lack of redirects: Failing to set up proper redirects from old URLs to new ones can result in broken links and lost traffic.
  • Incomplete optimization: Neglecting on-page SEO elements such as meta tags, headings, and image alt text can impact your site’s ranking potential.

Avoiding the 3 most common pitfalls will take you a long way and make sure to avoid the biggest negative impacts.

Pre-launch preparations

prelaunch - Morningscore SEO tool

Before launching your new website, it’s essential to undertake thorough preparations to minimize the risk of ranking loss. Let’s dive into the preparations below.

Comprehensive site audit
Conduct a comprehensive audit of your existing website to identify any issues that could impact your rankings. This audit should assess factors such as site structure, content quality, and technical SEO elements. To test your technical SEO and onpage factors you can allow Morningscores User Agent to access your building domain and use the SEO checker tool to check for broken links, page speed, crawl errors, and more.

Backup existing site data
Before the launch, make sure to back up all essential data from your existing website, including content, images, and databases. This ensures that you have a safety net in case anything goes wrong during the transition process.

SEO optimization checklist
Create a detailed checklist of SEO tasks to be completed before the launch. This checklist should include items such as keyword optimization, title optimization, and schema markup implementation.

Monitor every little detail

Monitoring everything from keywords to backlinks is crucial before you launch your new website. Without monitoring your data you won’t know if anything is wrong – at least not in time to prevent the damage.

When the decision is made it’s time to find a tool for SEO monitoring and keep an eye on so you know:

  • Keyword rankings
  • Number of backlinks
  • Website value (linkscore)
  • Organic traffic
  • Load speed

These factors are the ones to look out for and have a list before launch and compare to your results after launch.

Think SEO into your design before you start

As mentioned earlier in this post, you should consult with an SEO from the beginning or onboard one into the project.

Implementing design principles based on SEO is crucial for your future growth with your new website. Following these principles will not only make sure that it’s visually appealing but also performs with efficiency in Google and conversions.

Let’s take a look at the core design principles to follow for a successful website launch:

Mobile first (responsiveness)

As mobile internet usage continues to surge, ensuring mobile responsiveness in website design has become an absolute necessity.

A mobile-responsive site is like a shape-shifter, tweaking its look and feel to fit any screen perfectly. This means everyone gets the VIP treatment, no matter if they’re on a phone, tablet, or laptop – this will also skyrocket your conversions.

And here’s the kicker: search engines like Google are all about mobile-friendly sites. They’re on and have been for years, a mobile-first crusade, giving props to sites that look good on small screens. So, if you want to climb the search engine rankings, mobile optimization is the name of the game.

By giving your website a mobile-friendly makeover, you’re not only attracting more eyeballs; you’re also ticking off a crucial box on Google’s SEO checklist. It’s a win-win for you and your users alike.

responsiveness - Morningscore SEO tool

Navigation and Architecture

Alright, let’s talk website structure—it’s like the blueprint for how search engines wander through and categorize all your site’s bits and bobs.

A well-crafted architecture, with its neat hierarchy, basically holds the hand of search engines, helping them understand and prioritize what’s important. Building a top-notch site layout isn’t just about chucking content anywhere—it’s about creating a virtual playground that’s easy to explore, with signposts that guide users smoothly from one spot to another.

Think of it like whipping up a slick menu that’s easy on the eyes and easy to use, connecting pages in a way that simply makes sense, and tossing in a sitemap that screams “Hey, bots, come check me out!” A solid site structure isn’t just about making life easier for search engines; it’s about making your visitors grin from ear to ear as they easily navigate your site—an absolute game-changer for SEO success.

Google is all in on User Experience (UX)

Search engines are all about giving users the best experiences possible, so they’re rewarding websites that treat visitors like kings. Stuff like how fast your pages load, how easy it is to get around, how readable your content is, and whether it grabs attention—all of that adds up to the overall user experience.

Now, here’s the deal: Websites that treat users right, with killer content and a smooth website, tend to keep people hanging around longer and clicking more stuff.

And you know what? Search engines are all over that. They see those lower bounce rates and higher engagement levels and think, “Hey, this site’s the real deal.”

So, when you’re giving your website a facelift, don’t forget to roll out the red carpet for UX. It’s not just about making your site look pretty; it’s about giving it that extra oomph that search engines, as well as users, love. By focusing on making things seamless, captivating, and easy-peasy for users, you’re not just improving their experience—you’re also giving your SEO a serious boost.

To sum it all up, when you’re sprucing up your website, make sure to sprinkle in some of these SEO-friendly design goodies. Mobile responsiveness, slick site architecture, and a laser focus on user experience are the secret sauce that will not only make your website shine but also rocket it up the search engine ranks.

8 tips to avoid ranking losses when relaunching a website


Let’s get down to the actionable things you need to do or consider to retain your Google rankings.

avoidrankinglosses 1 - Morningscore SEO tool

Keep your URLs

Unless you have a poor URL structure and this is the reason that you are relaunching your website, it’s recommendable to stick with your current URL structure.

Your URLs are equal to street names for Google. Imagine what happens if you change all the street names in your city and you are asked for directions to a certain street that is now called something else.

Firstly, you won’t even know that it has been renamed. When you figure it out you’ll take a long time to adapt and remember all the new street names.

That is what happens to Google when you change your URLs.

Besides that, you’ll save yourself a lot of redirecting, and updating every single internal link, and increase your chance of retaining your current rankings.

301 redirect URLs

301 Redirects are your best buddies when you’ve decided to shake things up with your URLs. If you want search engines to keep track of your old and new URLs like they’re one and the same, and you want your links to keep leading users and search engines to the right spot, then you have to add redirects. It’s crucial as new URLs otherwise will be handled as completely new pages and not that your existing pages have been updated with a new URL.

This will not only lead to losing the old landing page’s rank but also losing all of that link juice from links pointing to the old URL which no longer exists.

When you create a 301 redirect, you’re telling the crawlers and users that a particular page has packed its bags and permanently moved somewhere else. This little trick ensures that your page still pops up in search results, even after it changes address.

Keep your existing content

The main worry when launching a new website is that important rankings are getting lost. One of the actions to take to prevent that is to keep your existing content.

Keeping your existing content doesn’t mean that you can’t add new and updated content. Your existing blog posts, articles, and landing pages in general contain the content that has brought you to your current rankings.

Discarding your existing content will most likely lead to a direct decrease in rankings. Content updates are a great thing, but make sure not to change the full content or even the intent of the page when updating the old content during a migration.

Most important of all: Remember the 301 redirects if URLs are being changed.

Quality check new content

Every new content you publish needs to be thoroughly worked through. This applies not only to websites that are being relaunched but all new content in general.

Every piece of new content should be better and of higher quality than the existing content. Keep your content original, informative, and helpful for the user – and still, target the right keywords used by your audience.

Keyword stuffing is a huge no-no. Create high-quality and appealing content that is valuable for a user looking for whatever solution, answer, or product they are looking for. Keep relevance in mind and do not panic if you experience slightly decreased rankings.

contentshouldbe - Morningscore SEO tool

Check crawlability and indexability

If search engine crawlers can’t properly navigate and catalog your site, your pages won’t even make it to the search results. So, when you’re giving your website a makeover, make sure its architecture is search engine-friendly.

This means creating a smooth sitemap, using a robots.txt file to guide search engine crawlers, and steering clear of overly complex navigation setups that could trip up crawling.

Don’t forget to fix any broken links, ensure your essential content isn’t blocked by robots.txt, and employ redirects wisely to keep the link juice flowing and steer users and search engines to the right pages.

By applying these technical SEO fundamentals to your website revamp, you’re not just making it easier for users to navigate; you’re also rolling out the red carpet for search engines. So, focus on site speed, toss in some structured data, and make sure your site is a breeze to crawl and index. This sets the stage for a great SEO strategy.

Check for redirect loops

Internal links are one of the most underestimated features of SEO and are often overlooked. You will most likely remember to update your internal links in your navigational menu, footer, etc. but most people tend to forget that there are tons of internal links in category pages and blog posts that need to be updated.

But hey, you did your 301 redirects so you are good, right?

Not quite. Sure, the 301 redirects can do the job and make sure that neither Google nor users end up in an ally. Launching a new website is a huge task that requires a lot of time, hence you might as well go for the home run and not cut the corners by preventing potential redirect loops that will affect your page load speed by updating the links directly instead of redirecting.

Clean up invaluable pages

Before your final launch, you should consider every single landing page on your website. Every single page needs to add value, be useful, have original and helpful content, and match user’s needs and intentions.

There are tons of myths in SEO so you have probably heard that you should have as many indexable pages as possible, right?

It’s wrong. If a page doesn’t add any value it won’t do you any good having it indexed. The best case is that you’ll spend your crawl budget on invaluable pages and risk valuable pages not being indexed.

So, how do you determine a page is invaluable? After all, if you didn’t think a page would be valuable you wouldn’t have spent time creating it, right?

I’m referring to stuffing as “tag pages” as an example. These pages don’t add any value and you should add them to your robots.txt-file and let Google know not to index them.

novalue - Morningscore SEO tool

Get the timing right

This is the very last step of your website launch. You have created an exceptional great and appealing website, fine-tuned all of your content, created the easiest navigation possible, tested everything and you are set to push the final button to launch your new website.

Do not push the button.

Wait, what?

I know. It’s tempting after all of your hard work and endless hours to release your masterpiece. And you should, but not just because it’s fully done and ready.

No, you need to hit the timing just right.

This applies mostly to e-commerce businesses who can potentially miss out on a lot of revenue. To prevent lost revenue as an e-commerce you should aim for the periods with the lowest amount of traffic.

So, do not launch on Black Friday, holidays, or other big shopping days or periods. Check the calendar and your historical data and launch your website when you have the least to lose if everything fails. You’ll give yourself time to troubleshoot bugs or dysfunctions without putting your business on the line.

Lastly, Google recommends to launch small parts of your new website to test the effect of changes in traffic, conversions, and indexing before you do a full launch.

Post launch checklist

You have probably tested, tested, and tested for bugs, errors, dead ends, and everything you could consider by now as you have launched your website. But to prevent rank losses you need to put all of your energy and resources into monitoring for any changes that could decrease your rankings.

There is a list of things to monitor, test, and analyze closely. Let’s dig into them below.

  • Check and test your top content and be sure that those pages work, are optimized, and are connected through internal links.
  • Check and make sure your redirects work and directs properly to new URLs
  • Check you page titles, meta descriptions, and Schema data are correct
  • Compare the page load speed with the audit you made before launch. There are multiple tools to do that. One is to check the load speed in Morningscore.

Submit sitemap to search engines

Generate an XML sitemap from your CMS, a plugin, or manually insert and submit it to Google Search Console.

Submitting your sitemap to Google helps them index your landing pages with efficiency and make sure that all landing pages are being crawled and ranked accordingly.

Check for broken links

Even though you have run pre-audits, manual testing, and proofreading you need to run a post-audit to make sure that you have detected every broken link. When you launch the final website from your test domain links could be broken or linked to wrong pages.

Use a broken link checker tool to detect and fix broken links and make sure that you offer a smooth user experience.

Monitor changes in keyword rankings

Make sure to keep a close eye on the most important keywords that you have saved in your rank tracker.

A sudden decrease in keyword rankings could reveal problems or issues on your new page that you need to pay attention to and fix.

Experiencing small ups and downs is normal so if you see a few decreases keyword keep calm and patient. Do not make any rushed decisions and change a lot of content or structure again.

Monitor backlinks

Monitor your backlinks with a link checker tool to identify losses of backlinks.

Losing backlinks is like losing authority. Make sure to retain every link possible when launching a new website.

If you identify several lost backlinks it could be for deleted pages that haven’t been redirected to an existing page. Make sure to check the pages that are losing links in the time after launch to make sure you haven’t lost a link because of a non-existing page.

Monitor traffic

By monitoring website traffic post-launch, you can track changes in organic traffic specifically. If there’s a sudden drop in organic traffic, it could indicate a loss of rankings for key keywords or a decline in visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Monitoring traffic allows you to assess click-through rates from search engine results pages (SERPs). A decrease in CTRs could indicate that your website is no longer appearing prominently in search results or that your meta titles and descriptions are not compelling enough. This could lead to a loss of organic traffic over time.

How to monitor traffic to detect potential losses of rankings and organic traffic:

Set Up GA4, Google Search Console, and Morningscore (or Similar Tools) to track rankings and traffic data with different sources that detect changes in organic traffic.

Regularly Review Organic Traffic Reports: Take time to review organic traffic reports in Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Look for trends, patterns, and changes in organic traffic metrics over time.

Monitor Keyword Rankings: Use Morningscore or other SEO tools to track the performance of your target keywords. Keep an eye out for any declines in rankings that could potentially lead to losses of organic traffic.

Analyze Bounce Rates and Session Duration: Pay attention to bounce rates and session duration metrics in your traffic reports. An increase in bounce rates or a decrease in session duration may indicate issues with your website’s content or user experience.

Track Click-Through Rates (CTRs): Monitor CTRs from SERPs to assess the effectiveness of your meta titles and descriptions. If CTRs decline, it could signal a loss of visibility in search results.

Monitor Referral Traffic: Keep an eye on referral traffic from external sources to identify any changes in backlink quality or quantity. A decrease in referral traffic could indicate issues with your backlink profile that need to be addressed.

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