Aqueous Digital

The Ultimate SEO
Guide to Optimising
your New Website.

Game-changing performance marketing
through Search, Paid Media & CRO.

So many websites are developed, redeveloped, and given a complete redesign, often leaving SEO and organic traffic to get lost along the way.

While your developer may have years of experience building websites that are user-friendly, they may not be as experienced in SEO, so it’s important not to unnecessarily lose any hard work you’ve already put into increasing the online visibility of your site.

Below, we explore how you can create a new website while protecting your SEO efforts. Whether you’re getting a completely new website, considering a website migration, or are hoping to redesign your website, we’ll show you exactly what to do to help retain your SEO success.

Summary of new website top tips

List of top tips for a new website

Brand new website checklist before going live: The SEO essentials

If you’re launching a new website and starting from scratch, it’s vital that you implement website SEO best practices from the offset. This will save you sought-after time and money that would otherwise be spent working backwards, rectifying issues that might hinder your SEO targets.

To make abiding by these best practices as straightforward as possible, we’ve listed each key element of the checklist in more detail below. This list includes everything from site speed and user experience to website security, mobile compatibility, and website tracking codes

Thanks to the rise of the internet, our access to information in modern years is almost without boundaries and we’ve come to expect quick answers to our queries. Quite simply, if your website is taking too long to load, users will simply navigate away before the page has even been fully rendered.

This will only boost your bounce rate and decrease the number of return users. As a result, you should regularly check that your site speed is acceptable (often between 0-3 seconds) on both mobile devices and desktops. Monitoring the site speed on mobile and desktops is essential to ensuring a good user experience across the board.

To test your website site speed, we recommend using PageSpeed Insights. This tool will generate a site speed report for your website, analysing its performance, accessibility, best practices, and SEO on both desktop and mobile, to produce a score from 0-100. The higher the score, the better the site speed.

A positive user experience (UX) is essential to the success of every website. A positive user experience will involve the creation of an intuitive user interface design. Put simply, good UX means a customer can navigate their way around your site and find the information they’re looking for with ease.

Poor UX can lead to a number of unwanted side effects such as a lower average order value (AOV), a higher basket abandonment rate, or an overall reduction in online revenue. Website heatmap software (like Hotjar or Microsoft Clarity), for example, can be instrumental in identifying the user journey a customer takes when exploring your site.

Designed to visualise customer behaviour (including clicks, scrolls, and mouse movement), it can be used to easily determine opportunities for UX improvement as well as any issues. Google Analytics can also offer you crucial insights into user behaviour.

Every business will have sensitive or confidential information that they want to keep away from hackers and cyber-thieves. Website security is therefore vital if you want to keep your company and customers safe, defend your site from malware, encourage customers to continue to shop with you, and build your reputation as a reliable and reputable brand.

Ensuring your website is HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) is just one way that you can increase your site security. Using the SSL/TLS (Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Layer Security) protocol, it encrypts sensitive data (often card information and passwords) to help prevent hackers from stealing customer data.

As a result, obtaining HTTPS can help you to avoid cyber attacks and build trust with your customers. Google also boosts websites with HTTPS (those with an SSL certificate) over those with just HTTP as it recognises that these websites are more secure and therefore safer for users.

An online website security scanner is one of the easiest ways you can check your site for malware and vulnerabilities. Regular penetration testing (simulated cyber attacks), the monitoring of traffic surges, and periodic scans of the website for vulnerabilities are some of the key security checks you should be conducting on new sites.

It’s no secret that desktops aren’t the only device we use to access the internet nowadays. In fact, as of August 2023, there are roughly 4.32 billion active mobile internet users. Ensuring your customers can navigate your new website just as easily on mobile as desktop is therefore crucial for increasing revenue and enquiries.

Google and other search engines understand the usefulness of a mobile-friendly site and tend to rank them higher than websites that aren’t optimised for mobile users. If you decide not to optimise your site for mobile, you may notice a higher bounce rate and a lack of conversions for mobile-users.

Unresponsive design, slow page speeds, and poor image optimisation when accessing the site using a mobile can all contribute to your website being deemed not mobile friendly by Google. Google Chrome even has a Lighthouse report tool you can use to check whether your website is mobile-friendly.

The test will list any mobile usability problems, allowing you to fix and re-test until your site has been fully optimised for mobile-users.

A website tracking code is a snippet of code that you can install on your website to help collect data and send it to an analytics module. One of the most well-known examples of a website tracking code is the code used to connect Google Analytics to your website.

Google Analytics’ JavaScript tracking code snippet can be added to your website by copying the code and pasting it into the <head> tag in your HTML. Alongside Google Analytics, some of the most essential tracking codes your website should have include codes for Facebook Pixel and Google Tag Manager.

Unsure whether your website already has some of these tracking codes installed? The easiest way to do this is to right-click on the background of the site and select ‘View page source’. You can then use ‘Ctrl+F’ to search through the code for any reference to a Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, or Facebook Pixel code snippet.

To check that the website tracking code for Google Analytics has been properly installed, all you need to do is check your real-time reports by logging into your Analytics account and navigating to Reports > Real-Time. These reports will show whether data from your website is being captured and processed by your Google Analytics module.

Migrating from an old website to a new website: What you need to know

Website migration refers to substantial website change that either affects the site’s structure, performance, or traffic. Often, the term website migration is used to describe the process of moving your entire website to another domain. However, it can also refer to a URL structure change such as making the move to HTTPS from HTTP.

Website migration is often a popular alternative to a full redesign. By not making any big changes to your original website and simply redirecting these existing pages to new webpages, you can retain your rankings while still achieving the look and feel of a brand new site.

Website migration can affect many important SEO elements, including the site’s domain name, URLs, hosting provider, and platform. To help you pull off a successful website migration without compromising your SEO, we explain some of the main SEO risks that can arise from various website migration processes.

It’s not uncommon for business owners to want to switch website platforms as their company grows and the needs of their business evolve. Changing platforms is a common type of website migration and site owners will often switch from Magento to WordPress or vice versa, for example.

However, this does come with some risks to your SEO. While you will retain your domain name, any SEO efforts made to optimise your website will have been lost. This includes SEO titles, heading, descriptions, internal links, existing redirects, and strategic keywords.

However, some platforms will possess specific migration tools that can bring over more SEO elements (including blog content) to your new platform. A more compressive approach would involve hiring an SEO professional to ensure any essential aspects of your SEO aren’t left behind or forgotten about.

Many companies will decide to change their domain name either as part of a rebrand, to merge several sites into one entity, or to obtain a keyword-based domain instead.

While a rebrand and choosing an SEO-friendly domain name can support your SEO efforts, some of the most significant risks associated with changing your domain name include a loss in traffic and potential lack of brand awareness.

Ultimately, changing your domain name means the URL of every webpage on your site will have been altered. As a result, Google will need to crawl and reindex every page which will have an impact on your SEO success. This means all your rankings will decrease.

However, all is not lost and while these SEO gains can’t be transferred from the old domain to the new one, you can mitigate the long-term SEO effects of changing your domain name. To prevent the loss of your hard-earned SEO rankings, there are several important steps you can take.

These crucial steps include preserving the high-performing URLs as well as their keyword focus, publishing a rebrand page that explains the domain name change to any confused customers, and adding in those critical URL redirects (one-by-one webpage redirects produce the best results).

On top of these steps, you’ll need to inform Google of your domain name change. You can do this in four ways. First, you can use Google Search Engine’s ‘Change of Address’ feature to highlight that your domain has moved. Then, you update your Google My Business account with your new domain name.

While starting a new Google Analytics account may seem like the right move for a new domain, it’s actually better for your SEO to keep the same account but change the old account name and property names. Similarly, do not create a new Google Tag Manager account. Instead, all the tags can be easily moved to the new site.

Once you’ve appeased Google, you can concentrate on getting in touch with your marketing service/third-party contacts that provide you with additional website tools to update them with your new name. Finally, you should also update directories and your social media accounts to include your new domain name.

A URL is an address for a specific webpage, so a URL structure simply refers to a way of organising the URLs on your site in such a way that Google can understand the purpose of each page and how they relate to one another.

A good URL structure is a minor ranking factor for search engines as it indicates that users can navigate your site with ease. Some websites will therefore change their URL structure to improve the user experience and help Google to understand their website.

One of the biggest risks with changing URL structure is the increased likelihood of broken links, which can negatively impact your domain rating and traffic. Even a well-executed URL structure change involving redirects will need to be recrawled and analysed by Google, impacting your SEO rankings.

The most recommended way to reduce potential issues when changing your URL structure is to use a 301 redirect. This redirect can help to prevent links or indexing errors when your changing URLs. Often, however, SEO professionals will recommend trying to retain your URLs if possible.

A staging URL (also known as a staging site or staging environment) is a copy of your live site on a separate URL that isn’t live. This URL is ideal for testing ideas and fixing issues, and will typically be used before launching a new website.

The main risk with using staging URLs is that Google might crawl these URLs and index them, making any unfinished content or designs accessible to the public. Not only could this affect your SEO, but it could also damage your reputation and prevent customers from contacting you.

To rectify this, you’ll need to block search engine access using a robots.txt file and protect your staging site with a suitable password. You can also prevent your staging URL from being crawled using Google Search Console’s URL removal tool and restrict public access by ensuring the URL can only be accessed from one IP address.

Updating/refreshing your website: What you must consider

You won’t need to add major updates to your website every day, but it’s important to keep your website fresh and user-friendly. Software, platforms, and online tools are constantly evolving, so if you can take advantage of these elements to benefit your business, then it may be worth updating your website.

However, it’s just as vital that you don’t undo your SEO progress along the way. With the rights steps in place, you can get the best of both worlds.

Clear and well-structured website navigation is essential to improving user experience on your site. Many website owners will update their navigation to make it more intuitive and user-friendly, ensuring potential customers can find the products, services, and any other information they might be looking for with ease.

Links can be added or removed from the navigation to help online users. However, when you remove a webpage, you may inadvertently create an error 404. Alternatively, you may decide to keep the webpage, but change where users can find this page.

As a result, you may see a reduction in traffic to these pages or even lose search rankings. To help minimise the impact of changing your navigation on your SEO, you should implement effective redirects where necessary and carry out regular audits to ensure any resulting navigation issues are quickly rectified.

If the data is proving that some pages on your website are getting very minimal or perhaps no quality traffic, then it might make sense to remove them. If these low-performing pages aren’t providing any value to the online user, then it’s likely that Google won’t recognise the value in them either.

However, going ahead and deleting these pages can affect your backlink strategy. Any incoming links to this page will lead to a 404 error if you remove the page and don’t add in a redirect. This will help you to retain both the value of the backlink and any potential customers that might follow this backlink to your site.

Having too many similar pages discussing the same topic, keyword cannibalisation, and poor-quality content are all valid reasons for removing content or reducing the amount of content on your website. Ultimately, if the content isn’t valuable to your potential customers or clients, then it often won’t be useful for search engines either.

However, one risk with removing or altering unwanted content is that it may still be ranking well on search engines. For example, the content may not be poor, but it could be outdated. In this case, removing it isn’t always productive from an SEO perspective.

The best way to avoid deleting content that positively impacts your SEO is to conduct a thorough content audit to determine page traffic and whether the content is worth saving. If it’s receiving significant traffic, has backlinks, or is ranked highly for target keywords, it’s often worth retaining the original piece and adding a URL redirect.

As mentioned throughout this guide, URL redirects can be utilised to minimise a whole host of risks associated with website migrations, but they must be used appropriately. The code 301 redirect is often hailed as the ‘best’ redirect, but this can be misleading.

It’s important to bear in mind that this redirect is permanent, so it shouldn’t be used if the change is temporary. Temporary URL redirects (code 302) are therefore often used for testing purposes. Furthermore, misuse of URL redirects can lead to broken redirects, resulting in lost traffic, poor user experience, and devaluation in the eyes of search engines.

The best way to protect your website from these issues is to use the right URL redirects and to use them appropriately. If you’re not sure which URL redirect would be the most beneficial when refreshing your website, you should consult an experienced SEO specialist.

Searching for tailored website support?

If you’d prefer personalised, professional support with the creation of an SEO-friendly website, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Aqueous Digital. As an award-winning digital marketing agency, we’ve helped countless businesses migrate their existing website or develop a new site without losing their valuable ranking positions or compromising their domain authority.

Our experienced team is composed of SEO specialists, talented web developers, and UX experts to help you retain all the value of your SEO efforts while benefiting from a fresh, and user-friendly website. Regardless of whether you want to simply update your website or start from scratch, why not get in touch with the Aqueous Digital team?

Get in touch

To learn more about our services and prices, please feel free to give our friendly team a call on 0800 285 1424. We also welcome email enquiries sent to as well as any queries submitted using our online contact form. Once we’ve received your enquiry, we’ll ensure a friendly member of our team gets in touch shortly to learn more about your website requirements, conduct a free website health check, and arrange your no-obligation consultation.