Using this checklist, 4 out of 5 websites we have relaunched have maintained or improved rankings. The others have come back after a short time with some promotion. 

1. SEO Planning
  • Research & identify keywords with the most opportunity for ROI
  • Create site-map with target keywords (to guide content development) for each page. We include buy and about terms for all “inbound” pages (not including about us, contact us, etc).
  • Competitive analysis to see what your competition is ranking for
  • Ensure your writer is trained in sales writing, SEO writing, and writing for the web.
2. Development
  • Optimize content (for people first and search engines second).
  • Utilize keywords, unique selling propositions, benefit statements, feature statements, attention grabbing headers, and calls to action.
  • Ensure every page has unique title and description
  • No images as headers or navigation. (Try Cufon or TextKit)
  • Microformats / rich snippets for address, reviews, products, etc
  • Phone number at top and address in footer
  • Privacy policy page
  • Address on contact page
  • Technology should meet SEO best practices:
    • Canonical URLs, if needed
    • Robots.txt file
    • W3C compliant
    • No indexing errors
    • Search engine friendly URLs
    • Site loads fast
    • Customized 404 page
    • Single H1 per page, not wrapped around logo
    • Dynamic XML and/or HTML site map
3. Launch!
  • Map old URLs to new URLs and set up 301 redirects to tell Google that pages have moved
  • Make sure robots.txt file is set to allow indexing
  • Create webmaster accounts with 3 major search engines and submit XML site map
  • Harden and secure site (WordPress tips here).
  • Backup & monitoring solution
  • Promote!
4. Submit Site to Search Engines
  • Ensure the 3 major search engines (Google, Yahoo! and Bing) are properly indexing your site and stay up to date with any changes made on your site.
  • Ensure your business citations are identical to your website contact information across important directories such as Yelp!, Insider Pages, Glass Door, etc, and your industry directories.
  • Update accounts on Google+, Yahoo! and Bing, ensuring contact information is identical.
5. Webstats
  • Baseline current Search Engine Rank Positions (SERPs)
  • Install Google Analytics and configure for goal tracking
  • Setup SERP tracking software
  • Provide follow up report on SERPs, traffic, and other important KPI 2-4 weeks after launch