It is easy to assume that if you are updating your website on the same domain, then the “SEO” will automatically carry over from the old to the new website, but this is not the case.
If Google isn’t “advised” about the website update, essentially the old website “disappears” (leaving many broken links behind) and the new website is “brand new” and completely unindexed in Google, having to begin from scratch in getting indexed and building its own search engine ranking.
This video explains the key considerations for managing your SEO and Google Analytics when launching a new version of your website.
Or scroll down to read the steps and download our website launch checklist.
The most important thing to do from an SEO perspective when launching a new website, is to ensure ALL links from the old website are redirected to the new website (if they aren’t exactly the same already).
e.g. /about-us/ on the old website will automatically link to /about-us/ on the new website,
but /about-us/ on the old website will NOT automatically link to /about/ on the new website, unless a 301 redirect is put in place (see section about Redirects).
Another common mistake I see are new Google Analytics accounts being set up for new websites. YOU DON’T NEED TO DO THIS!
An existing Google Analytics account can be transferred to a new website, and this is preferred, as it allows you a continuous history of your website’s activity, and the ability to easily compare the performance of the old and new sites.
So, if you are launching a new website:
- Make a list of ALL the URLs of the old website.
e.g. in our Excel spreadsheet redirects log (available to download below).
A useful way to do this is via your XML sitemap or typing site:yourdomain.com.au into www.google.com.au and checking which pages are indexed
- Alongside the list of old URLs, list their new equivalent URLs, or closest equivalent.
e.g. if a same/similar page doesn’t exist on the new website, is there an overall section or page that might be relevant? If not, redirect to the homepage /
- Set up permanent 301 redirects for all OLD > NEW URLs.
Exactly how you do this will depend on your website. You may be able to set them up within the site, or at your hosting server, or using the htaccess file. If you are unsure. Speak to your developer or website host.
This will not only ensure that search engine spiders find the new website and pass the old SEO “juice” over from the old to new links, but any links from other websites or bookmarks will be redirected as well.
- Submit the new XML sitemap to Google to index the new website.
Once the new website is launched, submit the new XML sitemap to Google for full indexing using Search Console.
- Transfer your Google Analytics code.
As soon as the new website is launched, also change the Google Analytics code over from the old to the new website.
Ensure the code doesn’t exist in both sites at the same time, as this can skew your tracking.
- Make an annotation in Google Analytics to note the new website launch date.
Make it easy to remember when the new website was launched by making an annotation on your Google Analytics timeline.
If you’re not sure how to use annotations in Google Analytics, check out our blog post here.
Congratulations! You’ve just set up your new website for a successful start in Google.0