Redesigning a website can be a huge undertaking. We know all too well since it is one of our most requested services here at BrandVolta. With all the factors at play, it’s easy to overlook some simple yet crucial SEO considerations that can determine the success of your site. In the following list, I will outline and discuss 10 common SEO mistakes you should avoid during your next website redesign:
1. Not thinking about SEO from the start
When redesigning a new website, it’s easy for SEO to be put on the back-burner, after more glamorous aesthetic and creative considerations. However, to get the most out of a new launch, SEO should be a consideration from the very start, and continue to be so down through every stage of your site’s life. What’s the point of creating a beautiful website if your intended audience will never find it? With SEO in mind, you will be better equipped to make the best decisions at every turn, and avoid costly redesigns down the line.
2. Not doing an audit of your existing site
So you’ve decided you want to redesign your site. Before doing anything though, make sure you fully understand the strengths and weaknesses of your current web presence. Without a complete audit of your existing site, you may be throwing out the baby with the bathwater, removing your most successful and popular elements. An analysis of metrics such as number of inbound linking domains, top performing keywords, and monthly traffic averages can help you avoid this.
3. Failing to identify and include commonly searched keywords
When it comes to keyword selection, the key (no pun intended) is relevance. This in turn should drive quality content. Google’s algorithms have grown increasingly sophisticated, and are capable of quickly identifying and penalizing attempted ranking manipulation, through methods such as keyword stuffing and hiding. Instead, let keyword analysis organically inform content development.
4. Not setting up 301 redirects
If you recently relaunched a site and have no idea what 301 redirects are, you may be forfeiting your hard-earned SEO history. 301 redirects are permanent redirects from one URL to another. If you’ve reconfigured URLs as part of your redesign and haven’t implemented the proper redirects, existing inbound links from other sites will be lost (or possible reroute to ever irritating 404 error pages). This can cause both your rankings and traffic to plummet.
5. Failing to consider your URL structure
Google treats dashes (-) as separators for URLs, creating more opportunities for your pages to be discovered. This is NOT the case with underscores (_). And just like people browsing the web, search engines prefer URLs that make it easy to discern what a page is about. When creating URLs, use dashes and descriptive, keyword rich language for the best results.
6. Leaving shady backlinks in place
Backlinks from highly trafficked, reputable sites, can greatly boost your website’s search rankings and traffic. However, links to your site from shady, questionable sources have the power to do the exact opposite. Fortunately, Google’s Webmaster Tools offer the capability to analyze and remove backlinks.
7. Not implementing responsive design
Responsive web designs automatically adjust the styling of content for the platform (and screen size) they are being served to, and were born out of the unique demands of browsing on mobile devices. Since April 21, 2015, a day dubbed by some as, "Mobilegeddon," Google has made it difficult for non-responsive sites to rank highly on searches via mobile devices (both phones and tablets). With web traffic increasingly going to mobile, it has become imperative that sites utilize responsive design.
8. Forgetting to unblock search engines from crawling your site
It is not an uncommon practice for developers to block search engines from finding sites while they are under construction. This makes perfect sense, since you don’t want to direct traffic to an unfinished product. However, once you are ready to go live, it is worth double-checking that crawlers are unblocked from crawling and indexing your site.
9. Forgetting to add analytics tracking to your site
From the moment you go live, you should be collecting data on the performance of every interaction visitors have with your site. Fortunately, several platforms available on the market now have analytics built-in, but others will have to be linked to third party systems such as Google Analytics. Without analytics tracking, there is no way for you to track the relative success of your new site.
10. Failing to think like a human
While it is important to remain aware of SEO considerations, don’t forget that your end-users are human beings! Your chief concern should be creating easily digestible content that adds value. This is the content people are most drawn to and are most likely to share. Updates to Google’s algorithms have also allowed for searches to become much more conversational, putting an emphasis on answers versus results.
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10 SEO Mistake to avoid during your next website redesign
This post was inspired by our 10 SEO Mistakes to Avoid During your Next Website Redesign eBook. Interested in learning more? Our eBook provides a more in-depth look at these issues, and features tips and tricks from marketers who have dealt with redesigns in the past. Fill out the form below to download your free copy of this eBook now! You'll be glad you did when your traffic spikes!