There are many reasons why an organization might choose to redesign their website. Some will simply be aiming to improve their site's visual appearance, while others will be motivated by a desire to enhance the quality of their visitors’ experience, lower bounce rates, strengthen their brand identity, or any number of other things.
If it is not done correctly and with due care, however, you can quickly find that you are putting your search engine rankings and web traffic at risk.
This is why it is crucial to keep SEO in mind throughout the entire process of a website redesign, irrespective of what initially motivated you to set off down this long but ultimately rewarding path.
So, without further ado, here are 7 simple tips to help ensure that your SEO doesn’t go down the tube when redesigning your website:
Tip 1: Do Your Research
Before you set off on your website redesign journey, there are a few things you will need to be aware of in order to make sure your SEO doesn’t suffer. This will involve doing a little research into how your site is currently performing SEO wise, who your visitors are, and mapping out your site’s current user journey. Also, you will want to get a clear idea of who in your organization will be affected by the redesign (marketing, sales, customer support & success, development and so on) so that you can involve them in the redesign process.
Without doing some research into these basic areas, you will essentially be putting your SEO at risk from the very start. In other words, you will have nothing to compare your future results against, and will be completely unprepared for the potential fallout that the redesign process could cause across your organization.
Tip 2: Set Your SEO Goals
Tip 3: Optimize Your Page Speed
It is a simple truth that people on the web today expect fast load times. In fact, a recent study undertaken by Digital.com revealed that 50% of visitors will abandon a site that does not load within 6 seconds. Not only this, but load speed is one of the key determining factors for Google’s search engine algorithm, which has the average page speed benchmarked at under 3 seconds.
There are many things that can be done to improve your average page load time when doing a redesign, including compressing your files, using a caching plugin on your site, and minifying your code, to name three - but it is something that cannot be overlooked unless you want your efforts to end up having the unintended effect of turning visitors away.
Tip 4: Optimize Your Existing Content
Before you move forward with your redesign, it is important to optimize your pre-existing content to boost your chances of ranking. Content decays over time, and if you are not on top of it then your website may end up becoming a graveyard for outdated and irrelevant material.
Taking such simple steps as including a keyword in your title, and ensuring that every page on your site targets one to two keywords that are important to business can make a massive difference when it comes to achieving better SEO results.
Optimizing your website in this way will help you ensure that your content strategy is centered around what you are actually offering and, by extension, what your visitors will be searching for online.
Tip 5: Optimize Your Information Architecture
Information architecture (IA) refers to the practice of structuring and presenting the different elements of something - be it a physical brick-and-mortar store or a website, in order to enable optimal usability and availability. This is particularly important for SEO, as a well-structured website which helps people to navigate seamlessly through it can significantly increase visitor browsing times.
Create an IA checklist that includes the following questions: Is your current IA structured to the needs of your target audience? Is your URL structure user-friendly? How many clicks does it take to get to a particular page from the home page? Do you have a sitemap? Asking questions such as these will help you to assess the extent to which your IA needs to be updated and restructured.
Tip 6: Update and submit your new XML sitemap to the Google search console
The Google Search Console can be used to track your website’s indexing status and improve its visibility. By submitting your XML sitemap, you are essentially helping Google to crawl your website more effectively by providing a full list of the pages it contains. This will fundamentally have the effect of speeding up the crawling process, as Google will have the information it requires to quickly understand the pages and files that are most important in your site.
Tip 7: Take A Mobile-First Approach To Your Website Redesign
At the end of the day, every single website will go through a redesign of some kind eventually, and there is absolutely no reason why SEO should have to suffer even a little bit as a consequence. Instead, a website redesign should be viewed as a great opportunity to strengthen your SEO on many fronts.
To stay one step ahead of the curve, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with some basic SEO optimization best practices, so that when it is your organization's turn for a website revamp, your SEO performance is not an early casualty of the overhaul.
By familiarizing yourself with some basic SEO best practices, you can help to make sure that your organization stays one step ahead of the competition when it comes to your turn to undertake a website redesign.
Whether your own redesign project comes about as a result of a site migration, a desire to improve UX, drive revenue, or anything else in between, this absolutely doesn't mean you should just throw the SEO baby out with the redesign bathwater.
With just a little bit of careful planning and targeted action, you can have your cake and eat it too, by having a shiny new website with outstanding SEO performance both during and after the website redesign process.CTA: Download the full Monsido Website Redesign Playbook now for a comprehensive redesign game plan.