Blog > 7 Tips For Redesigning Your Website To Improve SEO
Posted By Create
So you have been battling the search engines for a while now and you have started to get a really great position on some of your best keywords. That’s fantastic! However you may find yourself, like many others, scared to refresh or redesign your website in case you lose any of your hard-earned search engine rankings so far.
Fear not! Redesigning your website does't mean starting again with your SEO. In fact, it could even give you a chance to make some search engine-friendly updates to help your SEO even more. Here are some tips on best practice for you to consider when redesigning your site to improve SEO.
Does redesigning your site affect your SEO?
If you are changing the page structure and content (as in text, images etc.) of your website, there is a very good chance you will see a change and probably an initial drop in your position on the search engines.
If you're just changing the colour or template of your website, and the content is staying exactly the same, you are unlikely to notice any difference in ranking positions at all.
However if you are giving your website a facelift, it is likely that you will need to rejig your content and page structure anyway. This is not a bad thing at all. A good and well thought out redesign will improve your user's experience, which far outweighs any temporary ranking adjustment.
Your Website Redesign Checklist
Below I've listed some top things to think about and look into before getting started with your shiny new web design...
The keywords and phrases that you are currently ranking well under will be placed throughout your website. You will want to try to make sure that these feature just as often, and if possible more often, on your pages to help keep your keyword ratio up on your site. Especially try to keep the keywords that are included on your home page as search engines tend to put a little more weight on these.
This could be a good opportunity to overhaul and spring clean your keywords too. Are your current keywords bringing in lots of visits but not sales? Try to think of what potential customers who are ready to buy would be searching for rather than just people who are browsing. Now is a great chance to get these into your content.
But be wary of keyword-stuffing. If you insert too many keywords into your copy, search engines will notice this as unnatural and may penalise you in your rankings.
Google Analytics is your friend here. Using this website analytics tool, see which of your pages are getting you lots of visitors and which ones are not performing as well. You can cull or combine pages that do not contain essential information and are not performing in order to help streamline your site.
Also, you don't want to lose any pages that are bringing you in lots of traffic, so this information is very important.
Whilst redesigning your site, consider if you can lose any steps that come in between your visitor first arriving on your website and them reaching your final goal (e.g. a sale conversion).
For example, if you are selling online and you have your products in lots and lots of sub-categories, you can streamline your categories so the user doesn’t have to do lots of clicking to buy your product.
Can you make your site easier to browse without too many confusing pages?
The search engines and your users alike will prefer a website that has a clear structure and that's easy to navigate.
Not as delicious as apple juice, but definitely more important when redesigning your website! When I talk about link juice, I mean the sort of content that gets other websites linking to your pages. These can give you a ‘popularity boost’ on the search engines.
Webmasters tend to forget that you may have backlinks to internal pages of your website and not just the homepage. Remember that if you change the URLs of your internal pages, all this linking power to your website will be lost.
So make sure you do your research before you change your page URLs. Use a tool such as Open Site Explorer to see which pages are being linked to and from where.
If your page has plenty of link juice, don’t delete it! Keep the URL the same and just update the on-page content instead if there is room for improvement.
404 - page not found
If you do delete any pages from your website, they will still stay on Google but show something called a “404 - page not found” for a little while. This is not a bad thing and is a natural part of running any website.
A good idea is to customise your 404 page so that you can persuade any potential customers that stumble across it to stay on your website.
Meta Data Spring Clean
If you are refreshing your website, it's a good time to check your Meta Titles and Meta Descriptions to see if they could be improved. This is the brief information that your customers see about your pages when they appear in search engine results.
You can check this information by searching for your own website in Google using the 'site:' prefix, like so:
This will then only show pages from your website in the results.
Next, read through your pages' titles and descriptions here, putting yourself in a potential customer's and asking yourself whether the information would make them want to click through to the website. You want to sell your website over your competitors' websites, so try to think about that and if your current ones could do it better. If they could be improved, update your Meta Titles and Meta Descriptions!
Once your changes are made and you're ready to publish your new site, you will want to make sure the search engines know your most up-to-date sitemap so they can start picking up any new pages as soon as possible.
This is easy to do with Create as it features a search engine submission tool which submits your sitemap to all popular search engines in one go.
You can even set Create to automatically submit to search engines each time you publish your website.
Redesigning your website doesn’t have to mean the death of your search engine ranking. Search engines love to seek out and find fresh content, and as the web becomes ever more competitive it is vital to stay up-to-date with current trends. As long as your new design is thoughtful of your customers and you've taken the above points into consideration, there's no reason that you can’t freshen up your website and continue to climb the ranks.
If you have any suggestions of what to do or what not do when redesigning your website please share them in the comments below.
Happy Web Designing!