Redesigning your website is no small endeavor.
Most likely you’re redesigning it because it’s not as effective as it should be. When clients describe their existing websites to me, they are often embarrassed and don’t want me to look at their old site. It’s almost as if they’re happy no one visits it. While I hope this isn’t the case with your site, the fact is a lot of people are struggling to get their businesses noticed because of bad websites. Your real estate website can be a goldmine or your greatest disappointment, but either way, you know you need one–and there’s a good chance it’s not the one you have now. To compete in today’s market, you need a website that’s tuned to your specific audience, that’s intuitive, engaging and most importantly, it answers the questions that your customers are asking online. If you want some more ideas about creating a site that your customers love, read an earlier geekestateblog post: Website Love
For now I will assume that you are investing in a real estate website re-designing for all the right reasons; To get more business, establish legitimacy, build trust and provide continued value for your customers. If you need more insight into a website redesign, check out: Real Estate Website Redesign Kit for more info.
OK, you’re on the right track. Now let’s talk about the value of your existing site. With a redesign you are at somewhat of an advantage in that you have some pre-existing SEO juice. Juice that is worth preserving and nurturing. You have a real estate marketing site that shows up in search engines for your important key-phrases and may even has some pagerank worth protecting.
Here’s a list of the the top 17 things you can do to help maintain you valuable SEO juice.
- See what keyword phrases you’re ranking for. Use a ranking monitor to find all the phrases you rank for and the associated pages.
- Measure your existing pages to see where the traffic is coming from.
- Make sure your new site includes those high traffic’d pages.
- Make new pages for your old keyword phrases.
- If you can, avoid changing your URL and don’t change the URLs for the most important pages.
- If you must change your URL, change it to something key phrase rich.
- Add internal links. It’s important to link between pages as much as possible.
- Create key phrase centric links
- Redirect your backlinks.
- Research your indexed pages.
- Use a “permanent 301” redirect for each to new or similar page on the redesigned site.
- Create a new sitemap.xml file.
- Update your robots.txt file.
- Check for 404 errors (page not found!).
- Make sure you use your key phrases at least the same number of times in the same spots (headers, titles, body text, meta descriptions…)
- Create a custom 404 page.
- Don’t forget to optimize your title tag, meta tag descriptions, headings and the main content.
Redesigning your website doesn’t have to be harrowing. It only needs to be purposeful. Search engines and people like fresh content and thoughtfully redesigned websites. For a bit more detail on the 17 Tips, see Maintaining your SEO When Redesigning Your Website. So, have no fear of redesigning your website, just keep your focus on SEO and functionality during the process. When in doubt, talk to an expert.