A website relaunch is normally associated with goals like improving usability, user experience, conversion rates, brand awareness, performance and, ultimately, generating more revenue for the business the website represents. Important SEO factors are often overlooked or considered too late in the planning of the website relaunch project.
If you are involved in planning a website relaunch in your organisation and you already know how important it is to consider the impact of the relaunch on your SEO performance, this article will help you make SEO a priority in the website relaunch project.
What are the SEO risks or potentials of a relaunch for your business?
First of all, in order to find the right arguments for making SEO a priority for your website relaunch, you should evaluate the risks and potentials of a website relaunch or migration for your organisation. From an SEO risk and potential perspective, there are three categories of relaunches:
- Low-risk, high-potential relaunches: This scenario applies to websites that are not SEO-friendly yet and thus have “nothing to lose” from an SEO perspective. In this case, a relaunch is a good opportunity to take care of basic technical, structural and content-related optimisations. The new, optimised website will most likely bring a significant improvement to the overall SEO performance, if SEO is properly integrated into the project.
- Medium-risk, medium-potential relaunches: This scenario includes websites that have already been optimised in the past and that have reached a certain level of SEO success, but that still have room for improvement. Here, a website relaunch that ignores SEO can destroy the work of the previous years and harm the organic website performance. On the other hand, if the latest SEO techniques and principles are integrated into the relaunch project, the SEO performance can still receive a boost after the relaunch.
- High-risk, low-potential relaunches: Websites that are already state-of-the-art from an SEO perspective and that do not have much potential for further optimisations belong to this last type. When a website like this is relaunched, the role of SEO within the relaunch project is to save the current status quo and to undertake all necessary measures to prevent traffic and revenue losses that could be caused by the relaunch.
This evaluation does not normally require an in-depth analysis. A quick check of the optimisation status and history should be sufficient to assess the level of SEO risk and potential of a relaunch project.
Next, based on this first assessment, it makes sense to define some SEO goals your organisation could achieve with the relaunch.
Defining SEO goals for your website relaunch
No matter which of the relaunch types that we discussed above applies to your organisation, one basic requirement should always be to create a search engine friendly technical structure. A good crawlability and indexability of the new website are prerequisites for a successful relaunch. Let us now have a look at some goals you can define (depending on the scenario that applies to your project).
- Goals for low-risk, high-potential relaunches: The general goal of a website relaunch from this category should be a significant increase of organic traffic (and revenue generated by this traffic). Concrete goals could be to catch up with a competitor that already has a good SEO performance or to dominate organic search engine results for a certain topic.
- Goals for medium-risk, medium-potential relaunches: The minimum goal of this type of relaunch should be to preserve the current SEO performance status quo. On top of that, the opportunity of increasing SEO traffic (and attributed revenue) that a website relaunch brings should be seized. As the organisation has already invested in SEO in the past, it is likely that it has already received a number of SEO recommendations that have not been implemented. These should be incorporated into the website relaunch project and joined by further measures, in order to create a new website that is state-of-the-art from an SEO perspective.
- Goals for high-risk, low-potential relaunches: In this scenario, all SEO resources should work towards preserving the current SEO performance and making sure that the website relaunch does not cause a loss of organic traffic. If there are any additional resources available, current SEO tactics, strategies and processes can be reviewed and optimised for the new website.
Next, we should calculate some concrete numbers to underpin our arguments and to better communicate our goals within our organisation.
Forecasting the SEO impact of a website relaunch on your most important KPIs
In order to create a decent forecast of the SEO performance development after the website relaunch, it is necessary to look back at the past first. In the best case, your web analytics data already provides a value for revenue that is attributed to SEO traffic. If this is not the case, you can replace SEO revenue data with traffic data for your forecast (and you should think about improving your web analytics configuration so that you can tie SEO measures to revenue in future).
Now you can have a look at the development of the SEO performance over the last 12 to 18 months. If the goal of the relaunch is to preserve the current status quo, the development of the past year or so should just continue after the relaunch. In addition to this, you can forecast a scenario with performance growth after the relaunch (slight or significant, depending on the potential you have identified in the first step). For comparison, it makes sense to project a worst-case scenario: This would be a relaunch without any consideration of SEO factors that causes a significant loss of organic traffic and revenue.
Your forecast could look like this (with the numbers and outcomes adapted to your circumstances):
If you manage to work with revenue data, and not just traffic data, you can even go a step further and calculate an ROI for the SEO part of the website relaunch project: The difference in revenue between the worst-case scenario and preserving the status quo has a real value for your organisation. How much would it cost your organisation (budget + resources) to reach this goal? Can you present a positive ROI for these measures? And what about the optimal case where the revenue grows slightly or significantly? Can you forecast a positive ROI for this?
In the example above, the difference between the worst-case scenario and preserving the current status quo is 323k. It should be possible to plan an SEO project that generates costs that are justified by this value. The gap between preserving the current status quo and the case where the revenue is increased is another 51k. If the additional budget needed to reach this goal does not exceed this value, it should be possible to get the funds.
Now that you have collected all of this important data, you just have to present it to the right people.
Draw your organisation’s attention to the importance of SEO for a website relaunch
Next, you should identify the most important stakeholders in the website relaunch project and present your SEO forecast to them. Depending on your role and the structure of your organisation, you might want to get the following people involved in the project on board:
- Website relaunch project / programme manager
- IT department
- Marketing team
- External contractors, agencies and consultants
- Designers and developers
- Website content managers
The numbers and charts you have prepared will help you convince the different stakeholders that SEO plays a crucial role for the overall success of the website relaunch and that resources and budget should be dedicated to the topic. If everybody, especially the management, commits to working towards the established SEO goals at this early stage of the project, the relaunch is very likely to turn into an SEO success story.