Perhaps it has been a while since your website was developed and the animated GIFs and red
flashing text on a black background is looking a little...ahem...dated. Getting your website
redesigned is exciting: a fresh look, a polished (mobile) design, easy navigation - you're bound to
get more traffic, right? If you build it, they will come...but not necessarily... Effective Search
Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques are crucial to build into your website at the time you are
redesigning, not afterward. Avoid these SEO mistakes to ensure your website design is a success
(and not a financial waste of time).
Forgetting to audit existing site. Before you throw the baby out with the bath water,
conduct an audit on your current site to evaluate what is working, particularly top keywords
and popular pages.
Neglecting to add analytics. Continue to audit your new site by pasting the analytics code
in the website, which will allow you to track how users are finding you, search terms used
to find your site, and what keywords are working and lead to conversions. SEO needs to be
constantly monitored and tweaked for success.
Disregard for keywords. You may already know that keyword stuffing - a practice
whereby popularly searched phrases are stuffed into your content - is now an SEO nono;
search engines will penalize your website for poorly placed and overly used keywords. But
keywords remain important. If you have relevant and quality content, keywords are used
organically and that is what search engines are trying to determine. Nonetheless, use tools
such as Google AdWords KeyWord Tool to determine higher performing keywords and to
monitor those keywords on your site going forward. Adding hotlinks to your keywords
pointing to relevant pages on your website is also favorable to search engines, and adds site
stickiness (by encouraging readers to stay on your site by clicking on more links) and more
Failing to use responsive design. Responsive design is essential these days with mobile
devices being ubiquitous. Ensure your site provides an optimal user experience for your
visitors, whether they are using a smart phone, tablet or desktop computer. Responsive
design also makes it easier for Google to crawl your webpages, which translates into
helping Google index your content.
Missing 301 redirects. When you are redesigning your website, it is essential that you
keep track of all the links that will change due to a change in domain name, content
consolidation and URL restructuring. For every URL that is changing, you need to set up a
301 redirect to point to a new URL. Doing so will not only prevent those annoying 404
pages (page not found), but will retain traffic coming from those old URLs that are still
being indexed or linked to from external sites.
Generic meta data. Meta data is content that appears behind the scenes of your website
within the code (or within your WordPress SEO plugin) that tells search engines what each
particular page is about. Meta data should pertain to the specific, unique content found on
each page and not be duplicated from page to page to page. Unique meta data for each page
includes title tag, meta keywords, and a meta description, which is the description that
sometimes appears under your link within search results in Google. While Google does not
use meta descriptions in their ranking, compelling descriptions can entice visitors to click
on your website from the search results.
It is worth noting that Google does not use the keywords meta tag in ranking either (in
fact, some WordPress SEO plugins don't even have a keywords meta tag), but it doesn't
hurt to add them - it isn't worth spending a lot of time here.
Of all the meta tags that Google understands, the title tag is the most important. The title
tag is is the actual link searchers will click on from the search results page. So make it
unique, descriptive and eye catching. Common mistakes here include using title tags like
"home," or the same tag on each page. Be aware that Google will sometimes create its own
title tag to display in search results if they feel they can create a more accurate one.
Sloppy URL structure. Site redesign is the perfect time to revamp your URLs. In terms of
SEO, search engines give preference to URLs that describe what is on that page. It is also
wise to use dashes between words in your URLs instead of underscores. The difference is
that dashes indicate separators to Google, allowing for each single word to stand out, which
is useful for those conducting searches for specific words, or groups of words, within
URLs. Using underscores will only work for those searching for those specific groups of
words, not individual words within URLs. And of course, if you go changing URLs, don't
forget to set redirects for old URLs (point #5, above).
Low quality backlinks. When it comes to backlinks, the more the merrier, right? Wrong.
While links to your website from other websites can boost your traffic and indicate to
search engines that your site is popular, backlinks from low quality and spammy sites can
actually result in negative SEO. If search engines deem that your backlinks are shady, it's
your site that gets penalized. When redesigning your site, take time to evaluate your
backlinks and remove low quality ones to get Google to stop paying attention to them.
Google Webmaster Tools is handy as it can detect which backlinks are low quality and then
gives you a "no follow" option.
Bad or old content. It doesn't matter how wonderful your SEO is if your visitors have no
interest in staying on your website. Ensure your content is relevant and fresh to your
readers. Search engines also rank your site based on how active it is, such as how often new
content is added. As important as keywords are, content remains king. Quality articles,
information and blog posts will not only keep your visitors coming back for more, but
search engines are constantly upgrading their algorithms for quality content over SEO
Blocked to search engines. This one seems silly but it happens. Designers can turn on a
block so that your website won't be indexed. This is handy for testing out your website
after your redesign and before your official launch so visitors can't find you when you are
not ready for them. But when you're all good to go, unblock!
The easiest way to avoid these mistakes is to hire a professional Web designer who is well versed
in effective SEO techniques. When looking for an SEO professional, avoid companies or
individuals who claim that they will get you on the first page of Google. If it was that easy,
everyone would be on the first page! But there are many more tricks of the SEO trade and tactics
are ever evolving. And, unfortunately, there is no onetime fix. SEO is something that requires
regular maintenance due to the changing nature of search engine algorithms.
These days, practically anyone can design their own site using WordPress templates. But Web
designers at World Web Technologies can not only take care of finicky design details, they will
also optimize your site to give it (and your business) the best chance for success. Why not speak to a designer now?