Do you Need to Rewrite Content for Your New Website?
Posted by drew on July 28, 2015, 6 p.m.
A website redesign is the perfect opportunity to revisit previous choices to see if they still make sense. For example, you could decide to restructure your website’s information architecture, rewrite the content on the site, or completely revisit your brand for a total overhaul. However, redesigning your website can involve a significant investment of both time and money, so finding the resources for additional changes may be difficult. Here, I’ll talk specifically about rewriting the content on your site: when it is a good idea, when it is a bad idea, and how to go about it.
Before making any significant changes, you should get an understanding of your site’s baseline SEO performance. Are any of your pages ranking? If so, what are they ranking for? Pages that are doing well are probably doing so for a good reason, so you want to make sure you don’t ruin their authority by drastically altering the keyword targeting or removing all of the content.
If you do want to make content changes to these pages (perhaps to align more closely with new brand standards and messaging) you should maintain consistent keyword targeting. If you switch things up too much in your keyword strategy, it can cause big shifts in keyword ranking when Google reindexes your site. If you are already ranking well, the direction to shift is down.
When pages aren’t ranking particularly well, you should consider why that is. There are countless reasons why a page might not rank well in search engines, but it is possible that they are targeting more difficult keywords (or maybe not even targeting keywords at all). New content for these pages should follow a sound keyword targeting strategy to make sure you avoid keyword cannibalization. Keyword cannibalization is when two many pages on your site are targeting the same keyword, so search engines have trouble determining which page on your site is the most relevant to that query. To search engines, this can look spammy, so it can often lower the ranking of all of your pages.
We often encourage clients to rethink their content strategy and keyword strategy when undergoing a redesign, and we try to help them through the process of figuring out which content should stay the same, and which needs to be changed. In general, robust pages with a significant amount of content rank more easily in search engines than pages with little to know text content, so we take that into account when designing sites.
If your new content and keyword strategy involves eliminating some pages or changing URLs at all, it’s also important to implement 301 redirects from the old URLs to the new ones. You can find more information on maintaining SEO rank through a redesign here.