Your company’s website is often what introduces your potential customers to your brand and your products or services. When people need a particular product or service, they will get on Google, usually from a mobile device, and search for the product or service, visiting the first several websites that appear in the search engine results pages (SERPs). This makes it important for your website to deliver on several fronts: rank on the first page of Google; have a modern design, fast loading time, high usability, and most importantly, mobile responsiveness.
If your company’s website has an outdated design in appearance and/ or functionality, you should consider updating the website design. Users will bounce from a website quickly if the navigation is confusing, if it loads slowly, or if it does not display properly on mobile devices. Having a smooth, functional website design is crucial for retaining organic traffic that comes in through searches for your products and services.
When updating the design of your website, you need to plan the design with search engine optimization (SEO) principles in mind. Redesigning your website is much more than a cosmetic undertaking, the changes you make to your website must be SEO friendly to retain or improve your rankings in the SERPs.
Implementing changes in the design and functionality of your website can undo the progress your website has made from an SEO standpoint. Your website has been crawled and indexed by Google to appear in the SERPs and if you make changes to the design of your website that override the infrastructure, internal links, or content, this could hurt your SEO rankings.
If your company is ready to update the design of your website, it is very important to take an SEO minded approach to this project. In this guide, we will cover the most important SEO tips that you must implement into your website redesign project to ensure that your website continues to rank well and drive organic traffic after the launch of the new design. Digital marketing agencies that specialize in SEO, such as Proceed Innovative, can help develop and implement a new website design with SEO principles in mind.
Why is SEO Web Design Important?
It is important for website designs to be SEO oriented to help drive organic search traffic to the website for more quality leads and a higher return on investment (ROI). A beautiful design and smooth navigation are not enough to achieve high rankings and drive more organic traffic. The infrastructure, content, internal links, and responsiveness to mobile devices are what Google looks at to determine the value of your website to users which affects its rankings.
A common mistake that companies make when redesigning their website is implementing SEO strategies after the new design is complete. With this approach, there is a high risk that you could lose your rankings and experience a decrease in organic traffic. It is much more effective to approach every step of the process with SEO in mind to minimize your risk of losing rankings and organic traffic and avoid additional problems that may come up after the launch.
Involving an SEO expert through each stage of the website redesign, from the initial planning stages through the launch, will help ensure that potential SEO issues are identified and addressed before the launch.
Consult an SEO Expert
An SEO expert should be part of the web design process from the very beginning. If your company is working with a web design agency to complete the project, make sure you choose an agency that emphasizes the importance of SEO in their web design services. The SEO experts should be part of the planning process to identify and resolve any issues with the infrastructure or content that can affect rankings or organic traffic. It is best for them to work directly with the web developers to ensure their suggestions are implemented.
From an SEO standpoint, you should consider the following in the planning stages of the redesign:
- Are you using an SEO-friendly content management system (CMS)?
- Is the entire website going to be under one domain instead of involving multiple subdomains?
- Are your landing pages featured in the infrastructure of the website and optimized to drive organic traffic?
- Will the URLs change from the previous web design?
Pre-Launch SEO Audit
As the web design process progresses, you need to constantly evaluate if the new design is as optimized as the previous design. A complete SEO audit of your website should be done before the launch to find major issues that must be resolved. An SEO expert will check for the following during the audit:
- That all old URLs are redirected to the new URLs
- That all page titles and meta description tags are migrated from the old pages
- That broken links are discovered and fixed
- That unnecessary redirects are removed
- That the design is responsive to mobile devices
- That the canonicalization is done correctly
Identifying Gaps Between the New and Old Web Design
An important part of the pre-launch SEO audit is to identify gaps between the old website and the new design. You must look out for the following gaps:
- Loading speed: Fast loading speeds will reduce the bounce rate of your website, especially for mobile users. The new web design should load as fast or faster than the previous design.
- Content: The content is the most important aspect of your website because it is what Google analyzes to determine the value, and thus rankings, of your website. Your content must be well-optimized to satisfy search queries and target Featured Snippets which will help drive organic traffic.
- Site structure: The site structure includes the navigation and internal links. The navigation should be user friendly and the internal links should be well structured and functional.
- Conversions: The ROI of your website is largely determined by the conversion rate. Your new website design needs to attract the same amount of organic traffic to maintain or improve the conversion rate.
Post- Launch SEO Audit
After the new web design is launched, it needs to be audited again to ensure that the website is functional and that it is being crawled and indexed by Google. A post- launch audit will also help identify any bugs in the website that need to be fixed.
The post-launch SEO audit should review the following:
- The installation of robots.txt so that the website will be crawled by Google and other search engines.
- Sitemaps to ensure they are submitted to Google, Bing, and other search engines.
- Google Search Console index coverage report
- Redirects to ensure they are correct
The biggest problem that can occur when a website goes through a redesign is a drop in the rankings which will lead to a loss of organic traffic and fewer conversions. If your business relies on organic search traffic to generate leads, a dip in the rankings can be a serious issue. A pre and post-launch SEO audit will identify problems that could cause a drop in rankings or traffic so they can be resolved to maximize the performance of your website.
Measure the Results
Once your newly designed website has gone live, you need to measure your key performance indicators (KPIs) to gauge the performance of the website. The web analytics and rank trackers should be installed and tested before the launch. Once the website is live, you should measure the performance of the following KPIs:
- Organic users by landing page: Compare the number of organic visits to your main landing pages to the performance of your website before the redesign. If the URL structure is the same, you can identify which landing pages have experienced a boost or decline in performance.
- Organic users by website section: If one section of the website has experienced a decrease in traffic, there could be a problem with the design or internal links.
- Rankings for non-brand keywords: The landing pages of your website should be optimized with branded and non-brand keywords. Make sure non-brand keywords that drive the most traffic are included on your landing pages.
- Conversion rate by landing page: Check which landing pages are generating the most conversions. You may need to change the copy or call to action on pages with low conversion rates.
- Bounce rate by website section: If one section of the website shows an increase in bounce rate after the launch, that section may have a problem with its functionality.
Mistakes to Avoid with your SEO Web Design
As mentioned above, certain changes implemented with the new design can wipe out the current content or infrastructure which can hurt your website’s SEO performance. Make sure you avoid these common mistakes with your SEO design:
- Changing URLs: If you do not need to change the structure of the URLs with the redesign, then don’t. It is best to leave the URLs as they are because they are already indexed, and you can get year-over-year reports from Google Analytics.
- Not redirecting new URLs: If the URL structure does change with the redesign, do not delete the old URLs. Make sure all old URLs redirect to the new URLs.
- Ignoring robots.txt: You must check the robots.txt and ensure it is installed correctly before the launch or your website will not generate any traffic.
- Using uncompressed images: Large images take a long time to load and slow down your website which can increase bounce rates. Make sure you use compressed images to ensure fast loading times.
- Using unnecessary domains: If possible, put your entire website on a single platform under one domain. Multiple domains will weaken the link authority.
Working with SEO Web Design Experts
The goal of a website redesign is to not only improve the appearance and functionality of your website, but also improve its performance to generate more traffic and sales leads. In order to ensure an improvement in website performance, there must be a focus on the SEO elements of the website from the first stages of the redesign process. The best way to ensure that your website is redesigned with SEO principles is to work with a digital marketing agency that specializes in web design and SEO marketing.
Proceed Innovative is a full-service SEO marketing agency that provides full web design services that are implemented with SEO principles in mind. Our web developers work closely with our SEO experts to ensure that the right SEO elements are implemented in the new design. Many of our clients have experienced an improvement in organic search traffic and conversions after the completion of their website redesign project.
You can contact Proceed Innovative at (800) 933-2402 to learn more about our SEO oriented web design services.