2022 note: In addition to the tips below, check out these 5 basic SEO Redesign tips in this updated article here.
“I want my SEO results back!”
It’s the year of redesigns. Thanks to Mobilegeddon, and businesses wanting to freshen up their outdated sites to more of the 2015 “look and feel,” if you haven’t gotten a redesign recently you’re probably due for one soon.
It seems recently, I’ve spoken to many businesses and clients who have one unfortunate thing in common: their rankings and SEO results disappeared and they’re not sure why.
In most instances, this came on the heels of a redesign, either within weeks or months, and by the time they noticed it was too late to do anything about it. Or, the team was left scratching their head.
After all, aren’t redesigns supposed to IMPROVE your website? Shouldn’t Google automatically recognize this? Duh, Google!?
Well unfortunately, SEO is NOT a given with a new website iteration. Here are a few reasons:
- SEO is often one of the first line items cut from proposals and scopes
- The web design team may not have been as SEO savvy as they needed to be
- Lack of communication about expectations
I am not ever one to rush in and blame the web person. I’ve heard from many frustrated (and most trusted and respected) web design colleagues ask the same question: “where does the line between SEO and web design start and stop?” They seem so blended together, but there is in fact a line and a lot of education is required.
SEO for Website Redesigns
The truth is, SEO is not as technical of a discipline as it used to be. Of course a solid technical foundation is non-negotiable, but SEO touches on many disciplines these days: target market, brand, keywords, website marketing best practices, creativity, marketing and website data, content and copy, SEO fundamentals, SEO trends, and other disciplines like social media and PR.
SEO is NOT a “given” with a new website iteration. As I mentioned above, SEO is usually one of the first things cut, even though it can provide one of the biggest ROIs.
Here are 4 things to do to make sure you don’t lose your SEO rankings in a redesign:
- Understand which pages currently bring you your SEO results. You can find this under Google Analytics, Acquisitions – > Search Engine Optimization -> Landing Pages
- Bonus tip: know how to preserve their value and understand why they’re ranking so well.
- Bonus Bonus tip: this is really only applicable if these pages, content, and keywords are still aligned with your business goals
- Know which keywords you’re being found for, and which keywords visitors are coming to your site with. You can find this under Google Analytics, Acquisitions – > Search Engine Optimization -> Queries
- Assess which pages are the most popular overall. You can find this under Google Analytics, Behavior -> Site Content – > All Pages
- you’ll want to factor this in when planning your new site structure
- Condensing pages and re-writes. Of course, condensing content and making it better should be part of your redesign checklist. Just make sure you don’t do it at the expense of SEO. Redirects, substantial content length, preserving keywords, preserving former on-page optimization efforts, formatting, media components and internal links are all going to be important factors here
3 More Quick SEO Redesign Notes and Tips:
- For the “Queries” and “Landing Pages” report, you do have to have Google Analytics synced with Google Search Console.
- You will want to expand the date range back at least 90+ days to make sure you’ve accounted for trends and seasonality and to capture all of the data possible. The “SEO” report only goes back 90 days, so don’t be alarmed when you don’t see data earlier than that.
- Bonus tip: Export the data to Excel as this data disappears every 90 days, so you’ll lose all that valuable information if you don’t grab it and save it
Of course there’s a bajillion other factors (well, not quite that many), that need to be considered with SEO in mind for a redesign. And certainly it’s important to know the intricacies that come along with changing the URL versus just the look and feel. Changing the URL opens up a whole other can of worms. Just make sure you’re going with a reputable web designer and you arm yourself appropriately.
Got any tips? Leave them in the comments for us.
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