Redesigning a website is the digital equivalent of renovating your home. It is a technical challenge that requires strategic, operational, financial, and creative planning.
Like renovating a home, there are several steps that you can take to ensure that your project is completed without a hitch.
From creating a blueprint for your goals to effectively integrating website redesign SEO best practices, seamlessly building a new site is made easier when you avoid making the following common mistakes.
Mistake #1: Redesigning Without Goals Or SEO From The Beginning
There is a reason that you are redesigning your website. Do you need to attract new customers? Will the site represent larger brand redesign efforts?
No matter the reason, the truth of the matter is simple -- your old site is no longer cutting it, which means it's time to start with something fresh.
Keep the following key points in mind as you determine your website goals, so that SEO is considered from the very beginning:
- What are the primary and secondary goals or objectives?
- How will your website help to generate sales leads?
- What keywords will you use to increase traffic to your site?
- What rich snippets will you include with your site to a) attract visitors and b) make it easier for search engines to gather information about the site's content?
- How will your site work with other digital marketing efforts (for example your social media pages, blog, and other online publications)?
- What does "success" look like to you in three months, six months, and one year?
- What are the must-have digital features that will help your site achieve its goals and objectives?
As you answer these questions, remember that there isn't a one-size-fits-all website. If you take your time establishing your site goals and objectives, then you will be able to customize and create with purpose.
From optimizing your keyword use, to determining the layout of the site, to adding geo-locational tags, your SEO approach should directly support your goals. In short, without goals you will be missing the foundation needed to build your new site's SEO.
Finally, by thinking about SEO from the start, so that your beautifully redesigned site is properly positioned to be found by visitors.
Mistake #2: Failing To Capture Data Or Conduct A Site Audit
When you make the decision to redesign your website, you should also ensure that you have captured the performance metrics from your old site by conducting a site audit.
This audit will help you to accurately capture the analytics and benchmarks of your site, so that you can effectively establish and meet the goals of your new site, achieve business growth, and ensure that your new site is performing at the optimal level.
From an SEO perspective, you will want to set-up your site to surpass the benchmarks established by your old site. These benchmarks could include:
- The total number of site visitors (both from organic search and referrals).
- The conversion rates for the entire site and individual pages.
- The best (and worst) performing pages.
- Usage metrics such as the geography of the site visitors, bounce rates, time spent on your site, etc.
- The number and quality of inbound links.
- Total number of pages that have been indexed.
- The top performing keywords via rank, traffic, and lead generation.
It is important to remember that it will take time for your website to achieve the desired results, which is why you need to track the above data points from the moment that your site is live.
By adding web analytics to your site, you can design with SEO in mind from the very first line of code to the last.
Mistake #3: Not Communicating With The Search Engines By Failing To Use The Right Redirects Or Submit A New Sitemap
From an SEO perspective, the worst things that you can do for your new site are to forget to tell search engines about your domain change, use the wrong redirects, and forget to install 301 redirects.
A 301 redirect is a permanent piece of code that will automatically direct one URL to another.
As such, 301 redirects are vital components if you are switching domain names, restructuring site URLs, or consolidating part of your site redesign. By setting up 301 redirects you can also retain up to 99 percent of the linking power of your old site's URLs.
Finally, it is important to note that without 301 redirects, your site could drop in rankings as an influx of 404 "Page Not Found" errors inundate the screens of your visitors and flood the search engines.
Once you have redesigned your site you will need to ensure that you have removed any unnecessary backlinks and submitted a new sitemap.
The sitemap helps search engines more easily learn what type of content is on your new site and how often the content is updated. The latter information is vital to helping optimize your site for search results.
Mistake #4: Underestimating The Power Of Keywords
As mentioned in Mistake #2, you should capture the keyword data from your old site, so that you can create keyword-based content from the beginning.
In fact, if you want your new site to be easily found by your intended audience, then you must optimize each page with the right keywords from day one.
Keyword optimization should be focused on the following areas:
- Page title, URL, and written content;
- Meta description and rich snippets;
- H1, H2, and H3 tags;
- Image alt-text; and
- Internal links.
Mistake #5: Selecting The Wrong CMS And Hosting Provider
You can't successfully conduct a website redesign without choosing the right CMS. Without the right hosting provider and CMS cannot be overstated, you won't be able to implement SEO best practices, create a fluid site that is user-friendly, or achieve your established goals and objectives.
You should assess the functionality, security, reliability, speed, and cost of each CMS before you make a decision. As part of your selection process, you will want to ask your chosen provider about responsive web design.
From an SEO perspective, responsive design is often the best option due to its ability to work seamlessly across devices, which as Google has stated is an SEO-must.
The Bottom Line: Implement Website Redesign SEO Best Practices By Thinking Like A Human
The moral of the website redesign story is simple; by avoiding the above mistakes you can more easily create a new site that is ready to have a strong SEO impact.
Establish your site goals, capture vital data, use the right redirects, communicate with the search engines, never underestimate the power of keywords, select the best CMS, and always think about SEO from the very beginning if you want your new website to reach its intended audience.
For additional help redesigning your site, contact Get Known Pros and begin your journey towards a larger digital footprint. We are experts at both web design andsearch engine optimization.