Search engine optimization is only becoming more important. Did you know the top three results on a search query receive 61 percent of all clicks? That 75 percent of search engine users never scroll past the first page of results? Or that 70 percent of the links users click on are organic?
With SEO leads having a 14.6 percent closing rate, it’s no surprise companies and businesses alike are increasing their SEO or digital marketing budgets by 66 percent!
That being said, a brand new, custom, user-friendly website isn’t going to help your business if your target buyers can’t find you. And in this digital age, search engine optimization is not something you can afford to overlook or implement incorrectly. Check out these seven SEO pitfalls to avoid in your website redesign so you can make sure you’re getting the most out of your investment.
1. Not Thinking About SEO from the Beginning of Redesign
At the beginning of a website redesign, it’s easy to get caught up in all the excitement. You’re doing client interviews, refreshing your brand, creating the story you want to tell, developing wireframes, and then designing page templates.
But first things first, don’t forget about SEO in the midst of all the design elements! The last thing you want is to spend time and money on a website that cannot be found; that’s no way to see ROI. Be sure to keep search engine optimization strategy in mind from the very beginning.
2. Not Implementing an Audit of Your Existing Website
Before your old website kicks the bucket, you need to find out what is and isn’t working so you can determine how to enhance it. When you go to audit your website, the following are items you’re going to want to take note of:
- The number of visits, page views and unique visitors monthly
- The top performing keywords in terms of rank, traffic and lead generation
- The total number of pages indexed by search engines
- The pages that receive the most traffic
- The number of inbound linking domains
These metrics give you data to stack your new website up against so you can measure performance and create goals.
3. Keyword Stuffing or Failing to Identify Commonly Searched Keywords
Keyword stuffing is the act of overusing keywords that you want to try to rank for. Content that is keyword stuffed does not read well and is not user-friendly. And now, Google will actually dock your site credibility and rankings if they discover you’re keyword stuffing.
With that being said, keywords are not irrelevant. You should still research what keywords people are searching for in regards to your brand, product or service. And you should also pull a report to see how the keywords you are currently using throughout your website are performing.
Just because you’re doing a site overhaul doesn’t mean every old element has to go. If your analytics are showing that several keywords you currently target drive a good amount of your traffic and convert leads, well… don’t fix what ain’t broke!
4. Not Creating a Responsive Design
With more and more web users browsing on their smart phones, Google has deemed responsive design crucial to delivering a great search and browsing experience for users.
What does this mean for you? Well, if your website is not mobile or tablet-responsive, you can sit back and watch your search engine rankings fall.
Now, mobile or tablet-friendly does not mean setting up a separate mobile-only site with a separate set of URLs or dynamic serving (which means you’re using the same URLs, but serving up separate HTML).
Rather, you need responsive design, which is controlled by CSS. This means all your website’s URLs are the same across all devices, they serve up the same HTML code and the only thing that changes across devices is the styling. This will allow Google to easily crawl your pages to retrieve your content.
As long as you design your new website with multiple devices in mind, there’s no need to bring the wrecking ball on your launch date.
5. Not Setting Up 301 Redirects
Simply put, 301 redirects are permanent redirects from one URL to another. If you’re switching domains or restructuring your URLs for easier navigation (highly suggested!), or consolidating content to make your website easier to digest (also highly suggested!), 301 redirects will be crucial to the success of your redesign.
These redirects ensure any SEO value from your old URLs is transferred to your new URLs. It also ensures that if a repeat visitor tries to go directly to an old URL that they are transferred to the new, proper location. If a visitor is not transferred to the new URL, they will receive a 404 (page not found) error message and an influx of these will drop your rankings.
6. Forgetting to Implement Analytics
While this might seem like a no-brainer, you’d be shocked at how many businesses forget to transfer their analytics code over to the backend of their new website. The second your freshly redesigned website is launched, you should begin collecting data to measure how it performs compared to your old design.
Did your keyword research pay off? How is the user flow? Are your links all working properly? These are questions you will never know the answer to if you forget to implement that analytics code on the backend!
7. Failing to Think like a Human
Remember how I mentioned Google is only continuing to get smarter? That’s where this final point comes in. Google doesn’t aim to deliver users “results” anymore. Rather, they want to deliver answers.
With that being said, the best answers come from websites who craft their content with their visitors – humans – in mind! The more conversational, informative, unique, and helpful you can make your content, the more Google will want to deliver it.
Don’t let search engine optimization slip through the cracks during your website redesign! Keep it top of mind during build so your business doesn’t lose any traction once the new site is launched!
For more SEO tips and best practices, download our FREE eBook, the Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization, by clicking the button below!