It is important to keep your website fresh and up to date while maintaining a positive user experience. As tastes change and websites evolve, there comes a time when a redesign is called for. However, you need to approach a website redesign with caution. Any change can cause a big drop in search ranking.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do when approaching a redesign is to bring your SEO expert into the process from the very beginning. It is critical to make sure that you retain all the history and standing with the search engines when you switch to the new site. This requires a plan and careful orchestration.
Web designers are not necessarily SEO experts, even though they claim to be. Be sure. Your search rankings depend on it. By the same token, not all SEOs are web designers. These are two very distinct skill sets. Each is important to the overall site effectiveness and are required for success.
Simple things like changing the URL from HTML to PHP means you now have a brand new URL in the eyes of the search engines. Many businesses are caught off guard and see their ranking drop not knowing why. Redirecting pages to the new site need to be done a certain way to ensure all the great history and ranking status follows to the new site.
When you bring the designer and the SEO expert together early in the process you end up with a great user experience and a platform for your SEO and ranking to continue on and upward.