Whether your website is in need of a refresh or you want to make sure it displays well on mobile devices (over 50% of global web browsing is now done on smartphones and tablets), if you’re ready to do a redesign now is an ideal time to incorporate SEO strategies.
Why? Redesigns don’t come cheap, so it only makes sense to get the best ROI out of the project by optimizing your new site for maximum visibility in search engines.
What Role Does SEO Play in a Redesign?
Here are the key ways that SEO can provide value throughout the redesign process.
1) Keyword Research coupled with a review of the Analytics of the current site at the beginning of the project helps determine the information architecture and navigation of the site.
Information architecture is a vitally important signal for both human users and search engines about the content of the site. It helps them understand what subjects are core to the site, and which topics are less important.
And what’s great about utilizing Keyword Research and Analytics is that instead of guessing, the data tells you how to structure the website and write the content in a way that answers people’s most important questions.
2) With the Keyword Research and Analytics data in hand, you’ll have a roadmap for content creation on your new website. You’ll know how your target audience is talking about the topics relevant to your business or organization, and which topics to cover on what pages.
3) After the site is designed and content is ready, Technical SEO Assistance will help you avoid all-too-common pitfalls in the relaunch process that can negatively impact the ability of your target audience to find your website on search engines.
These technical pitfalls vary greatly depending on the nature of the old and new websites, but they often include issues such as:
a) Not establishing redirects from the old site’s URLs to the new site’s URLs
b) Improperly configuring robots.txt files and XML sitemaps
c) Setting up the site in a way that search engines can’t crawl it efficiently
Unfortunately these and other Technical SEO elements often get overlooked in a typical redesign process. Designers design and programmers program, which is what they’re supposed to do – but these SEO elements are not usually on their radars…
The Bad, the Ugly, and the Good
What can happen if a redesign doesn’t include SEO? Well, here are a few examples of sites that got relaunched without keeping SEO in mind. These aren’t clients of ours…not yet, at least! (External organic search traffic data is provided by SEMrush.)
With this first example, you can see a nice, steady increase in organic search traffic over several years, followed by a huge decline in the last couple months after a new website was launched.
In this second example, when the redesigned site got relaunched in the middle of 2015 the traffic to it from organic search engines took a huge hit. And in the last year and a half, the site still has not recovered to pre-launch traffic levels.
What does it look like when you do incorporate SEO into the redesign process? This site was relaunched in the summer of 2015 with SEO in mind. Organic search traffic was minimal pre-launch, but the site has seen great traffic growth ever since.
Can You Wait to do SEO after Launch?
Well, sure, but first of all, we’re always in favor of doing things right the first time. Incorporating SEO into the process will ensure not just a smooth launch with minimal traffic losses; it’ll set up the site for long-term success from the get-go.
Second, you’ll save a lot of time and money by not having to go back and fix issues after the site has launched. Plus, it’s less than ideal to re-work the site after it’s been launched as Google will then have to figure it out…again. And it can be difficult to know how long that process will take.
If you’re thinking about redesigning your website, get SEO involved early in the process. SEO will make the process easier, and it’ll set your new website up for positive ROI over the long haul.
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Header Photo Credit: Ben LeFort