What you don’t think of when re-designing your website
Shannan K. DuShane | March 2017 | Spectrum Net Designs, Inc
When you decide to take on the task of redesigning your website, normally seo is the last thing you think of during that process. This is the biggest mistake you will ever make when it comes you online marketing strategy. Because when you are ready to launch and push that site out live, you just lost all of your hard work ranking your website. If you had great search results you can probably kiss that goodbye, and start over with your marketing and seo tactics.
SEO is the art of ranking higher than another website on search engines such as Google or Bing. Google and Bing have algorithms or programs that searches for and identifies specific factors while probing through billions of web pages to provide the most relevant results again via their algorithm, for your search based on the architecture, meta data and ranking of the webpage.
Search engine optimization is a growing trend with business owners over the past 5 years. And there is an ever-growing need to understand how to rank at the top, knowledge is the key for optimizing your site.
The one question I always get is why can you just put me at the top – well easier said than done, there are industry best practices, that need to be followed. These results aren’t instant, and different search engines have different update policies and software algorithms. The first step is to research, analyze and more research the best possible search phrase for each page or what phrase you want to come up under the search for, then continue to optimize the page. You will need to analyze your site, see what the problem is and correct it, including re-writing all of your content, new images, optimizing video and more.
This is an ongoing process. Search engine optimization is never a one and done task that you can let go. The largest piece is the research in the beginning and the monitoring throughout.
What you don’t want to forget is that your current search engine optimization on your new site won’t transfer automatically from your old site. And most of the time when that time comes, it’s too late because you didn’t save anything.
“Great Design Doesn’t Assume Great SEO”
Here are my Top 16 SEO Tips to Watch During A Re-Design
- Know Your Site. Know your url, if you have any subdomains that need to be directed to the new site. Setup your subdomains and make sure they are pointed properly with testing before launch. The worst thing you can do is someone contacting you about broken pages.
- Replace & Optimize Your Images. You don’t want to launch your site with dummy images with no optimization. Ensure you have placed all alt tags and seo titles for each image, to ensure the search engines will have the ability to identify those images. Also, make sure your images are compressed for fast loading for good user experience.
- Install & Configure Plugin. This is primary if you have a WordPress website. This is extremely important. While WordPress is well configured for SEO, the power plugins available like Yoast or All in One SEO Pack can take your site to the next level of seo and marketing.
- Setup SEO Meta Data Before Launch. If this isn’t your first website, you probably have this all setup. Don’t throw it away – use it! Especially if you have excellent rankings on the search engines. If you don’t you will lose those precious rankings.
- Create Your Sitemap. As your re-design progresses you will see pages move and new one develop. Creating a new sitemap will help the search engines crawl your new site and index them properly. This will need to be done just before the launch after the site is finalized. You can create your new sitemap here.
- Setup Permalinks & URL’s. Make sure the permalink/URL structure is set to your liking. Each page URL contains its main keyword or key phrase. This will support your seo strategy and assist the search engines in finding appropriate searchable pages. If you have specific pages that rank well or are important, make sure you setup redirects to promote good user experience on your site. The worst thing you can do is ignore this task.
- URL Structure. Continuing from above, your URL structure is super important when it comes to directing your audience around your website. With a new design, it is a given your url’s will change unless you transfer this information and let your developers know you need these to transfer to the new website. The other option is pre-setting up 301 re-directs to the appropriate pages. Once you launch it is harder to identify your old url’s until Google Search Console, or a plug-in picks them up. Then it might be too late to get that audience back. If they know the pages don’t exist, they probably won’t return.
- Titles & Tags. If you utilizing WordPress – your seo plugin should take care of this, just make sure you don’t launch with the dummy information – “This is a WordPress Site”
- Optional Tags. Check meta and social RSS feeds and whether they are setup correctly. Don’t forget to implement optional tags such as rel=”nofollow” for admin and login pages. There is no need for search engines to crawl these, it will just slow down the process.
- Proofread & Proofread. No I didn’t accidentally duplicate that text. But that is something you want to check in your content. Search engines do not like duplicate content, whether it is meta data, on-page, or blog posts.
- Link Strategy. How are you connected to the world? Your links play an important part of your seo strategy. Check each link on your new site to guarantee the all work and are directed to the appropriate location. This goes for all internal links, external links and image links. Broken links lead users around your site or to another site and then brings them to non-existent webpages. Multiple broken links negatively affect user experience and may worsen your search engine rankings because crawlers may think that your website is poorly maintained or coded.
- Robot.txt. If you don’t have a robot.txt file on your site or if it is poorly configured, it can lead to disastrous results. One mistake can damage your search rankings, ruining all your hard search engine efforts. Read more here….
- Non-Secure Pages. This can trigger many errors throughout search engines and general security of your website. If you have a login screen on your homepage or anywhere on your site, you will need to purchase a SSL certificate and implement HTTPS on your website. This is to protect user’ sensitive information as well as yourself for liability on your server. Google Chrome will start informing users about the dangers of submitting their passwords on HTTP pages by labeling such pages as “non-secure” starting January 2017. This could have a negative impact on your bounce rate, as users will most likely feel uncomfortable and leave your page as quickly as possible. You can read more about it here.
- Google Favors Secure Sites. Yes, you heard this correctly! Google is giving brownie points to those sites that use secure encryption to help stop the world of hacked websites. You can read more about it here. Google considers a website’s security as a ranking factor. Websites that do not support HTTPS connections may be less prominent in Google’s search results, while HTTPS-protected sites will rank higher with its search algorithms.
- WWW Resolve Issue. Normally a webpage can be accessed with or without adding www to its domain name. If you haven’t specified which version should be prioritized, search engines will crawl both versions and the link juice will be split between them. You can correct this by making sure you have a canonical link in your website and set the site in your Google Search Console account.
- Mobile Friendly / Responsive Design. Everyone is on the move these days, and your website needs to be as well. Mobile friendly is fairly new within the past year or so or the emphasis on the importance of having a mobile friendly website. Don’t forget to include the viewport meta tag. It is an HTML tag that allows you to control a page’s viewport size and scale on mobile devices. This tag is indispensable if you want to make your website accessible and optimized for mobile devices. Check out the Complete Mobile SEO Guide.