For many companies, it can be a real nightmare redesigning their website. A common problem revolved around the redesign is that although it might improve a certain aspect of the website such as a better looking design, a higher conversion rate or perhaps your branding and messaging has improved, it can also weakening another aspect of your website such as a dramatic drop in SEO traffic. Many online marketers have been saying all along that it is important to incorporate SEO into the redesign of your site.
Besides the strong emphasis and boat loads of information that many authors have written about when it comes to SEO in the redesign of your website, there still remains the issue of traffic lost after the redesign of a site and many businesses are still suffering from this. When it comes to the redesign of your website, there are 5 specific mistakes you should avoid.
- Your Main Website is not Indexed While Your Dev Site Is
This is a simple fix; however it does tend to happen a lot more than you would think. When it comes to the dev version of your website, it is important that you ensure your content is blocked from being in Google’s index. This is because through all your attempts, your live version of your website could still have links pointing to specific dev version pages of your website. This type of mistake still tends to happen even when people know about this potential issue. There are a couple easy ways to ensure your dev website doesn’t appear in search engines:
- Placing a no-index tag on all of your pages
- Having a robots directive block on all dev content
Once your dev version of your website has been blocked, it is vital that you don’t have your main website version blocked. You’ll have to eliminate the no-follow tag from all code directing to your primary domain if this is the approach you take. If this was done for your entire site, you will probably see it immediately, however, there have been websites that have made this mistake with their site’s subsection only and then wonder why their blog or a particular subdomain drops in organic traffic.
- You don’t Have Your Analytics Installed Correctly
You have to ensure you install the analytics code correctly when you are redesigning your website. Some common mistakes that you can avoid in this case include:
Create a New Profile – When using many of the analytics providers like Google Analytics, for instance, any historical website data can be erased when you create a new profile and cause problems with historical tracking.
Mishandle New Subdomains – If you are creating your first non-www subdomain or a new subdomain, be sure you track them.
Checking for Code – Ensure any code is transferred over to your new website. Besides checking all code to see if Google Analytics is properly installed, you may also crawl your site to look for any GA code that is missing with a solution such as ‘Screaming Frog’ or ‘GA checker’. You can also use the tag assistant plugin from Google to check certain pages for problems.
Just like all website activity, if you can’t track your SEO traffic and goals accurately, you risk seeing a major drop in organic search activity.
- Changing URLs and Link Structure Accidently
This is a big problem that gets overlooked frequently in website redesign. This could happen when you:
- Move content to a subdomain from a subfolder (or the other way around)
- Change a subfolder’s name
- Change the URL’s page slug
Things to take into consideration when there is a change in URLs:
- Keep the structure of your URL the same unless you absolutely have to change it for reasons like usability or functionality
- Use tools such as Majestic SEO or Open Site Explorer to find pages that have link equity pointing at them and when redirecting pages to a relevant page, using the permanent 301 redirect feature
- For SEO, subfolders are recommended over subdomains, however, make sure you handle all content migration correctly
- Make a 404 page that has links to information that is relevant and be sure you follow the best SEO practices when it comes to these 404 pages as well as http status coding
This type of issue can really decrease your search traffic for a long time period; therefore sites really need to take caution when changing up URL structures.
- Using New Features and Codes
- Trap crawlable text of your site in images for design purposes
- Cause SEO issues due to changing your website’s pagination
- Changing the title tag structure of your website or blowing up specific meta descriptions or title tags for whole sections of your website
- Slow down pages and increase the load time of your pages (you can use Google Page Speed Insights tool to check page speed problems)
- Negatively affect mobile usability and page speed for your website (use Google’s mobile friendliness tool for checking usability problems or Page Speed tool for mobile insights)
In some cases, you might consider lower search traffic worth the improved functionality, but knowing the potential effect on your website traffic (identifying new functionality impacts on pages as well as search traffic for those pages) will enable you to decide how you plan on implementing new features. This will allow you to implement this functionality so it is SEO-friendly.
- Not Aligning your Messaging with your Keywords
The last problem when it comes to website redesigns having a negative effect on your SEO results is when you leave a keyword strategy behind that was previously effective to change your website’s content to suit new messaging. This again, would be your decision if you ultimately decide that it would be more valuable to tweak the messaging rather than target specific terms you were previously targeting. Just be clear of the impact changes to your on-page content and title tags and what it can do to your website search traffic.
In each of these cases, the intent behind these changes is for improving your website in some way. To get around it all, you’ll need to know which changes to your website will lessen your rank in search and come up with a strategy to lessen any possible risk in SEO resulting from your website redesign.