We often receive questions when an affiliate undergoes a major website upgrade, changes content management systems, or both. We created this checklist to share with you five steps to take to ensure your redesign is successful. Note: if you are transitioning your website to HTTPS, we have an additional Preparing Your Site for HTTPS checklist.

  1. Keep the file name and directory structure the same, if possible. If it isn’t possible, use 301 redirects to send visitors to the appropriate new pages. For more on 301 redirects, read tips from Bing (External link) and Google (External link). Notify other websites that link to you of the changes.
  2. Register for the commercial search engines’ webmaster tools.
  3. Update the XML sitemap (External link) on your website and notify the search engines via webmaster tools.
  4. Notify the search engines of content that has been removed via the webmaster tools. Specifically, in Bing, use the Site Move tool (External link).
  5. Within the Search Admin Center, update your Domains and RSS feeds to reflect your new design. If you have set up Collections, be sure to update the URLs there as well.

If you’ve undergone a redesign, followed these five steps, and your site search results are not what you’d expect, notify us at search@support.digitalgov.gov.

Troubleshooting Tip: Do you want to have real-time updates to your search index, and full control over your page titles and descriptions? Then i14y, our content indexing API is for you! We currently have a Drupal module and a WordPress plugin that will hook your CMS into i14y. If you use a different CMS, or don’t have one at all, you still can develop an API of your content that meets the i14y specs and send it to us. We plan to develop more CMS hooks in the future, and welcome your partnership if there’s a particular hook you need.

Additional Resource