Brand Biz: Redesigning? Here’s what you need to know from an SEO pro

At CookIt, we help bloggers think outside the blog format—we help them think bigger! Often, this means that the blogger needs to redesign her blog in order to build a “house” big enough for all her ideas. But what about all the traffic and links she’s built up over the years? What if she wants to change the name and domain of her brand?

We went to Arsen Rabinovich, founder of Top Hat Rank, a digital marketing agency with expertise in SEO, for the answers to these and other questions.

How risky is it to change your domain/url if you want to change the name of your blog?

Arsen: We try to avoid changing URLs as much as possible. However, sometimes you just can’t, like when changing your domain name during a re-brand.  For this specific reason, Google provided us a “change of address” procedure and submission through Google’s Search Console (http://bit.ly/2zV16Fd). When doing this, both sites need to be up at the same time. You’ll need to validate the new domain via Search Console and update the old domain with redirects (301) from the old domain to new domain.

What about a blogger’s links — can she take them with her?

Arsen: Yes, if the migration was implemented properly, the redirects will continue to pass “authority” from external backlinks to your new site. Accurately handled redirects are vital!

Does SEO play a role in the redesign process? If so, when? How?

Arsen: Not so much in the design process. We tell our clients to go through the design process without getting us (SEOs) involved. You want to design for the user, for the conversion, NOT for SEO. Once the site is wire framed/designed, we come in and mark it up with proper HTML and schema before it goes into production (coding the design into a theme).

Any tips on plug-ins bloggers should be using in their redesigns?

Arsen: The premium version of Yoast SEO is probably the best SEO plugin for WordPress. However, if you are using another plugin and it’s working, I would not recommend swapping it out. Always make sure your plugins are up to date. Not paying attention to this will create many issues and in some case get your website hacked.  So keep them updated.

We know SEO is a long game, but how long until a blogger begins to see results after the redesign?

Arsen: Again, when handled correctly, your redesign should not only retain rankings but help the site grow further. Post-launch, keep an eye on your Search Console to make sure that the daily pages crawled by Google (http://bit.ly/2zT9JjO)  are always trending upwards. This is a good indicator of a successful migration.