A website serves as the cornerstone of a business’s online presence. It acts as a virtual storefront; enticing visitors, and converting them into loyal customers. However, as technology advances and user expectations evolve, redesigning a website becomes a necessity to stay relevant and maintain a competitive edge. Yet, amid the excitement of a fresh design, it’s crucial not to overlook the critical factor that can make or break your online visibility: search engine optimization (SEO).
Over 70% of websites suffer from critical SEO issues, like missing meta, slow page speed, and 3xx redirects. A website redesign is the perfect opportunity to correct these errors and bring your site to a whole new level. So how do you redesign a website to increase SEO? By approaching that redesign with a focus on preserving and enhancing the website’s SEO value. With the right strategy, businesses can unlock a world of untapped potential, capturing higher organic rankings, increased visibility, and an influx of targeted organic traffic. In this blog post, we’ll discuss some valuable tips for redesigning your website and increasing SEO.
Audit How the Website Is Currently Performing
When planning a website redesign, start with an SEO audit. A comprehensive audit will give you a deep understanding of your website’s current performance in search engines. This information will help you identify areas for improvement and develop a successful strategy for the redesign process. Tools like SEMrush, Moz, Google Analytics, and Google Search Console can be extremely helpful when auditing your website for SEO.
Below are some key pieces of information you can learn from an SEO audit:
- Which keywords are driving traffic to your website?
- How well are your pages optimized for those keywords?
- What are your bounce rate and average time on page metrics?
- Are there any technical issues that could be affecting your SEO?
By conducting an SEO audit before you start your website redesign, you can ensure that your new site is built on a solid foundation for success. Feel like you need some additional support? Gatorworks is ready to perform a complimentary SEO audit for your website.
Keep What’s Working, Toss What Isn’t
Designing a new website doesn’t mean throwing the baby out with the bath water. It’s important to preserve key SEO elements (elements you likely discovered in your SEO audit) to not only increase SEO rankings, but to prevent any negative impact.
Don’t know what to look for? We’ve got you covered:
- Website’s Content: The content of your website, encompassing text, images, and videos, is the backbone of your online presence. When redesigning a website, it’s essential to retain the same content as much as possible. Why? Because search engines have likely indexed and ranked your current content over time, and any significant changes could disrupt this progress. Keeping the content consistent ensures that search engines recognize your new website’s relevance and continue to reward it with higher rankings.
- Website’s Structure: The structure of your website, including the URL structure, sitemap, and internal linking, plays a crucial role in how search engines navigate and understand your site. Changing the website’s structure without proper planning can have adverse consequences. It could result in broken links, leading to error pages and frustrating user experiences. Moreover, search engine bots may struggle to crawl and index your new site effectively, impacting your SEO rankings.
- Website’s Keywords: Keywords are the linchpin of effective SEO. They reflect the words and phrases users type into search engines when seeking information, products, or services. If your current website ranks well for specific keywords, it’s vital to carry those same keywords over to the redesigned website. Consistency in using relevant keywords helps search engines recognize your continued relevance for those queries, thereby maintaining or improving your rankings. However, keep in mind that SEO isn’t solely about keyword stuffing; focus on creating high-quality, relevant content that naturally incorporates your target keywords.
It’s likely during your audits you discovered several things that aren’t working as well. Some culprits that could lead to bad SEO are:
- Site Architecture: What is site architecture? Website architecture refers to the arrangement and interconnection of your website’s pages, which is manifested through the linking of these pages. The goal should be to create a well-designed architecture that facilitates user-friendly navigation, enabling visitors to access the desired information quickly and easily. Moreover, it plays a crucial role in assisting search engines (like Google) in understanding the connections between various pages on your site.
- Lack of specific locations pages: If your business serves multiple locations, ignoring those specific service areas can be a grave mistake. Location pages serve as virtual signposts on your website, directing visitors to the specific cities or areas you serve. They play a crucial role in guiding both users and search engines through your digital landscape, ensuring that your business gains prominence on the online map.
Not only do location pages provide Google and other search engines with essential context about your service areas and clientele reach, but they also contribute to a more personalized user experience, which, in turn, can positively impact your rankings. By creating location pages for your site, you create a web of relevance that enhances your online visibility and establishes a stronger connection with your audience.
It’s important to note, location pages aren’t for every business. If your company only serves one area, don’t attempt to “game the system” by adding irrelevant location pages. Search engines are smart and will likely catch on and penalize your site for being manipulative.
- Lack of service pages: A service page is a vital component of your business website, serving as a dedicated space to describe and explain your core services to potential customers. Much like location pages, the creation of service pages is driven by the need to cater to your audience effectively.
The importance of having separate service pages on your website lies in the way users search. People are more likely to seek specific solutions rather than your company name directly. Service pages play a significant role in improving your chances of ranking high in relevant searches, making it easier for potential customers to discover your offerings and get in touch with your business.
Statistics show that customers who find businesses through local searches, such as those on Google, are highly likely to make a purchase, with 88% resulting in a call or visit within just one day.
In Case of Emergency, Use 301 Redirects
Above, we discussed reasons to keep your site structure, and reasons to change it. If in your research, you discover the need to change the structure or remove certain pages, it’s vital you use 301 redirects. A 301 redirect is a redirect that tells search engines that a page has moved to a new location. This ensures that users and search engines can still find the content they’re looking for, even after the website redesign.
In addition to preserving SEO rankings, 301 redirects can also help improve your website’s usability. When a user visits a page that has been redirected, they will be automatically taken to the new location. This means that they won’t see a “404 Page Not Found” error message, which can be frustrating and impact user experience.
SEO Audit: Round 2
As the saying goes, measure twice, cut once. After you launch your redesigned website, it’s important to monitor your SEO performance closely. We suggest performing a post-launch SEO audit for quality assurance. This will help you identify any issues that may have arisen as a result of the redesign so you can make necessary adjustments. The same tools you used for your pre-design audit can be used post-launch as well. Below are a few things you’ll want to be on the lookout for:
- Your rankings: Are your rankings for your target keywords improving or declining?
- Your organic traffic: Is your organic traffic increasing or decreasing?
- Your user behavior: Are users spending more or less time on your website? Are they clicking on your calls to action?
Page and Site Speed: Page and site speed are key elements of SEO and something you should pay attention to post website launch. Adding new pages, plugins, images, or video, can effect page and site speed, so it’s important to ensure any new additions haven’t brought your site to standstill. If you do notice a decrease in page speed, you might consider reducing your redirects, compressing/optimizing your images, or caching your pages. For tips on reducing page speed take a look at this article from HubSpot.
Don’t Let It Scare You
A dip in SEO performance is a natural occurrence when launching a redesigned site, but that shouldn’t stop you from doing it. By proactively applying the tips we’ve laid out in this article, you can go a long way in increasing SEO during your website redesign. In doing so, your website can achieve greater long-term success in the realm of search engine optimization.
Need a little help? We’re happy to oblige! Reach out to us today and see how Gatorworks can take your SEO and website efforts to the next level.