Are you considering a site redesign but are afraid of the negative impact that it could have on your SEO efforts? Each year that you let your website sit without updating it could be another year you are losing customers due to website neglect. Many companies shy away from updating their site because they do not want to deal with the hassle of redoing SEO efforts. This is especially true if the company already ranks high for the keywords for all their essential keywords.
Unfortunately, though your keyword rankings do help in bringing more users to your site, if the site is being neglected then you will simply end up with a high bounce rate and less sales. This can be due to many factors including constant Google algorithm updates, not monitoring landing page conversion and not following current website design best practices. Today 81% of customers begin looking for a purchase online. Keeping your site up to date is an important part of growing your customer base and retaining old customers. If you take the time to plan out your website redesign and pay attention to how your previous SEO efforts have been handled, you can update your website without losing too much SEO headway.
What are your keyword phrases?
The first step that you should take before even touching your site is to check which keyword phrases you are currently raking for. There are various ranking monitors that can be used to find all the phrases that you are ranking for as well as which pages are generating these rankings. Make sure to record your current rankings including the key phrase along with its rank, page found on, and the date.
There are many great analytics tools that can be used to track how customers spend time on your site. Use your favorite analytics tool to check which pages are receiving the most traffic and make sure that these pages are prominent on your new site.
Try not to delete pages that have a lot of traffic on a daily basis. Also make sure to have new pages for each of your old keyword phrases. The best case scenario is to have a new page to correlate with every old page that Google used to have in its index. If this can’t be done, at least be sure to have pages highlighting all of your most important keyword phrases. This is the best way to stop your rankings from dropping drastically directly after your redesign.
Verify that your selected keywords are used during the website design process.
Key SEO terms must be used in:
Keywords and meta description
Navigation and menus
Image file names
Alt text for images
Title attribute in links
Your primary page or product copy
Internal and external links
Footer links and sitemap
Header Tags – H1 , H2 and H3
But don’t over optimize it! Keep in mind that SEO optimized content should be helpful, authoritative and well-written. Artificial repetition or ‘keyword spamming’ will not help you get ranking and even cause different penalties.
How about site links?
One rule of thumb is not to change your domain name if it can be helped. Unless you really dislike your domain name and have a much better one with high organic traffic waiting this tends to be a bad idea. Since you cannot register a domain name change with Google; you will be forced to try and rank for all of your phrases over again. While this is possible, it tends to be a frustrating and tedious endeavor.
You will also want to keep the URLs for your high-traffic pages intact where possible. As with your domain name, any similar URL changes will cause that page to be de-indexed. This leads to countless broken links strewn all across the Internet. Sometimes it is necessary to change your links (often the purpose of a redesign is to change link structure) so in this case be sure to keep an eye out for any old backlinks. While doing this try to create as many internal links as you can. These links will help Googles spiders crawl your pages more efficiently by providing a better site map which will lead to higher ranked pages.
Don’t forget about backlinks!
A good SEO agency knows that backlinks are the backbone of a site’s rankings. Understanding where these backlinks are coming from will help you create redirects for your new pages. Make sure to use your favorite back link checker tool and update as many links as possible. Through use of a permanent 301 redirect you can retain all the traffic from these backlinks.
If you forget to redirect backlinks and leave them as broken links you can easily lose many potential customers. Then all that effort you put into getting your pages highlighted in blogs or discussed in social media will have been for nothing. We also suggest designing a custom 404 page just in case you miss any backlinks. This page could include links to some of your most popular pages.
If you take the time and do your site redesign properly, it can have an astounding effect on the amount of sales you make. While good SEO gets your customers in the door, only a quality website that’s interesting and captures a customer’s attention will lead to the high conversion rates that you are hoping for.