You have a medical practice site that you have had up since 2004 and you think it’s time for a “fresh design”. How do you go about updating the look of your site while still maintaining your organic traffic and page index? By following these tips you can save yourself from a big Google punishment and keep your medical practice from losing rankings on the keywords you care most about.

If you are considering a website redesign then I strongly recommend you get advice from someone who understands SEO and website design.  Here are some questions to ask:

  1. What pages are we deleting and why are we deleting them? Can the content be reworked into existing pages? If a page needs to be deleted, make sure you point to the new page and get some of the same content in place so Google understands what to rank the page for.
  2. Where are the pages being redirected to? All pages that are deleted should be 301 redirected to a new page you want to rank in place of the old page.
  3. What keywords do the deleted pages rank for and how much traffic are they driving? If you have a page driving considerable traffic for a valuable keyword I would think twice before deleting it entirely.
  4. How many internal links are we losing and to what pages were they linking? Deleting internal links can be a major factor in lost rankings.
  5. What URLs are we redirecting the deleted page URLs to?
  6. Are the redirected pages doing a good job of covering the same content and optimized for the same keywords? If you are 301 redirecting to a new page, make sure it is relevant and optimized for those keywords.
  7. Are we keeping the same URL structure or changing it. Google indexes pages based on the URL. It’s like a social security number for your pages. If you change the URL structure, it looks like a whole new page to Google.
  8. Is the main navigation or sub navigation changing significantly? Changes in the hierarchical structure of your site can significantly change how Google passes link juice through your site and rankings can be affected.
  9. How are the title tags and meta descriptions changing for each page? Changing these to new keywords can essentially reset your rankings for a page.
  10. Are the image alt tags changing? You may be surprised how much traffic you drive from images on Google images, or how much your image tags affect your page ranking for a certain keyword. Change these with care.

While this seems like a daunting list of questions to tackle before a site redesign, failure to look at these questions and have a plan for them can severely affect your website. By addressing these questions, you can change your website redesign and still keep your legacy SEO benefits.

Aaron Evans