Website redesign: How to maintain and improve your SEO
Website redesign is a huge undertaking, taking you right from the bare bones through to all the nitty-gritty aspects that will make your updated website sing. Every part of a website needs to be working towards the same goal, and it’s easy for something to be overlooked. SEO is the surest way to ensure the new version of your website is more powerful and accessible than ever, drawing in more visitors and making you more attractive to search engines.
It provides an excellent opportunity to right some wrongs concerning SEO in the old site. It helps you maintain your ranking, especially when revamping a website can put your organic traffic at risk.
Read on to discover insights and some of the critical tasks SEO agency Hedgehog implement to avoid common pitfalls of website redesign and make your updated website as strong as possible.
The site architecture is the foundation on which you will build your website. It organizes and delivers the content on your website. The better it is designed, the easier it will be for the search engine to crawl and index your site, which will help you rank and get more visibility in the SERPs as Google will have a comprehensive understanding of your website. In addition, it creates a hierarchy – a map, if you will – of your site that consists of a simple and basic layout that aids in the navigation of your site, improving the user experience.
When redesigning a website for the SERPs, internal linking is one of the easiest and surest ways to improve and enhance your page’s authority in Google’s eyes. It is vital for all of your pages to be linked to each other and easily navigated. The easier your website is to use and navigate, you will likely rank well on Google. The search engines assess your website’s authority; you can help improve your online authority by publishing credible, quality content and gaining backlinks that demonstrate the value of your content.
If a page cannot be found via internal links, it will be harder for the search engine to crawl and index it. Ideally, your important pages should never be more than three clicks away from your homepage. The closer they are to the homepage, the more authority they have and the more likely it that Google will deem them as important. All the pages you want to be found in a search engine should be linked to each other and be reachable via your onsite navigation. If visitors can discover your page without hassle, it will build trust in your brand, and users will stay on your page longer, which tells Google your page is essential to what the user is searching for and will place your page accordingly in the SERP rankings.
Remember not to spam users with internal links, though. They should only be used when they provide real help to the visitor, enhancing their experience and increasing the value of your site to their search journey.
The hierarchical structure is as simple as making your website easy to navigate. Divide your pages into categories and subcategories to make them logical for the user and the search engine. Guiding the user towards information enhances the flow of the website, making the experience more enjoyable and engaging.
The URL is a vital part of redesigning your website and one of the basic needs of onsite SEO. The most successful URLs are relevant to the page and concise. However, if they are overly long, it reduces their readability, making them unappealing and distracting to users.
The best practice to getting the perfect URL is not to include random letters and characters like in an automatically produced URL and make sure you separate your words with hyphens. This makes it as simple and as readable as possible.
Include the keywords of your content in the URL. It will make more sense for your visitor if it includes the keywords and highlights the importance of the keywords to Google. In addition, the simpler your URL, the easier it will be for Google to understand and index, increasing your authority with the search engine.
Sometimes you can end up with several URLs for the same page, perhaps they have been automatically generated, or you have forgotten about previous URLs. This can be unclear to Google as it tries to crawl and index your page, so get in the habit of marking the main URL with the canonical attribute in the code. The canonical tag informs the search engine that the URL represents the master version of a page and is, therefore, the most important one. It also informs the search engine that this URL you wish to appear in the search engine result pages.
Don’t forget to format your URLs early on, as editing live URLs is a lot more complicated. However, so long as they’re short, relevant, and meaningful to the content and the user, you should face no problems as it will go a long way to making your pages more powerful and attractive to the user and the search engines.
Format Your HTTPS
HTTPS is an updated, seurer version of the old HTTP format. This is especially important for websites that deal with personal information. Users need to trust that their details are in safe hands. The ‘S’ in HTTPS stands for SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). This technology encrypts your website to prevent personal data from being leaked or hacked. The SSL certificate promotes your reliability to visitors and promises security. This is particularly important if you are an e-commerce website that, by nature, deals extensively with personal information.
Perform an audit before you launch your pages as some HTTPS sources can suffer from mixed content, such as – images, videos, and other media that originate from HTTP (without the ‘s’). This can signal to Google that your page isn’t HTTPS, and it’s a straightforward issue to overlook.
Give all the resources you’ve used for your page a once-over before launching your redesigned website to make sure your HTTPS page is recognized for what it is and help it make an impact in the SERPs. Google has a preference for SSL pages, so it is always beneficial to make sure you are in line with these preferences to increase your chances of ranking further.
Trust and reliability are essential building blocks in the SEO process. You want your users to find value in your content and trust your site to generate business for your brand. An SSL certificate is an easy, surefire way to achieve this goal, giving your updated website a lot more power and value.
Mobile optimization is more critical than ever in the modern age. As of January 2021, 58 million people in the UK use mobile internet, accounting for 89% of the population. In addition, Google relies on the mobile version of your pages when deciding on rankings. So the best course of action is to develop your website with a ‘mobile-first approach.
SSL certificates are beneficial for mobile optimization. It is a requirement for AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages). This technology helps pages load quickly on mobile, creating the means for a smooth and flawless mobile internet experience.
The most important thing about the mobile redesign is ensuring the page can adapt to different screen sizes. It can be frustrating having to scroll left and right to try and view all the information on a page or when you have to flip your phone’s screen into landscape mode. On the other hand, ease of use guarantees users has a positive experience, building trust and making your page more valuable.
Due to having smaller mechanics, Mobiles often operate with slower internet connections. To this end, it’s important to utilize SEO to ensure the resources on your pages are kept simple and effective to allow everything to load properly and keep your page looking actionable and attractive for both mobile and desktop visitors.
To help your website work in optimum condition on mobile, it’s best to follow these simple, actionable tips that can help improve user experience on your mobile:
- Create light pages – compress images, avoid redirects, allow browser caching and use code minifiers (removing unnecessary data without affecting how the code is processed in the browser). This will help your page load quickly (preferably under three seconds) and help your page run smoothly on mobile.
- Don’t use pop-ups – pop-ups are annoying enough on desktop pages, but they can take up even more space and make viewing the content tedious on mobile. If you use a pop-up, make sure they’re small and at the edge of the screen, so they don’t get in the way of the information the visitor is searching for.
- Design for touch screens – touch screens by nature involve a lot of tapping. If the buttons/links are too small and close together, it can be hard to navigate, especially for the clumsier, less precise tappers among us. Ensure the buttons are reasonably sized and spaced apart for ease of use.
- Easy navigation – With fewer features than on a desktop page, it’s essential for your pages to be navigable with elements like menu and search being readily available and operation with a simple tap to make it easier to find content.
Images are an essential part of any content; breaking up large blocks of text with visuals encourages engagement for visitors and keeps their interest on the page, so they don’t click elsewhere. Therefore, it is vital to optimize your images so that this critical feature operates smoothly and maintains the page’s value.
Compressing the images is the easiest way to make your page lighter and help images load quicker. This enhances the user’s experience and improves your rankings on a SERP. There are a few ways to compress your images, such as using online tools such as TinyPNG and Kraken or plug-ins, some of which are available on WordPress like Optimole and ShortPixel Image Optimiser. This will help your images look as good as possible, increasing the power of the page and making your content richer and more optimal for the search engines.
You should also describe your images with captions, file names, and the image alt tag. This tells Google what your image is about, increasing the understanding for the search engine. Again, it’s important to be specific, and it can’t hurt to incorporate your keywords into the tag to enhance the message you want to be sent to the search engine.
On-page optimization is an important part of SEO. This is the front of the house; if you will, the visitor will be looking at and reading and the main thing that will help them in their search journey. You don’t want a high bounce rate, so make sure your content is engaging, informative, and tailored to the user’s search intent. The longer they stay on your page, the easier it is for Google to flag your page as valuable and rank it higher in the SERPs.
- Page Title: This is the first thing visitors will see, so make sure it is snappy, relevant, and eye-catching. Ensure it’s under 60 characters and includes your primary keyword.
- Meta Description: This part on a SERP beneath the heading summarises the page. Make sure it is short, concise, and descriptive to draw the visitor in.
- Headers: Use H1, H2, and H3 headers throughout your work. Not only are they an excellent way to split up your content into chunks, but they are also a good way for you to emphasize your keywords and enhance their importance. In addition, it will help users navigate the page, and Google will understand the content better.
- Internal Linking: As mentioned above, internal links increase the authority of your pages. They also give visitors quick and easy access to more relevant information about the topic, enhancing their search journey and ensuring they don’t have to spend too long looking for more information that could prove valuable to them.
Once you’ve finished writing and are confident in your content, it’s always a good idea to run it through an audit to check that everything is working well and that your SEO strategies prove useful and valuable.
One of the last things to do before launching your rebuilt website is to construct a sitemap, of which there are two types, HTML (for visitors) and XML (for search engines).
Creating an XML sitemap is a great way to speed up Google’s process of crawling and indexing your site. A sitemap comprises all the pages you want Google to crawl, making it easier to navigate the pages you want it to.
Most website builders automatically generate a sitemap which can be found at xxx.com/sitemap.xml. To submit a sitemap, go to Google Search Console, Sitemaps, add a location and hit submit. This will help you go a long way along the process of getting your page ranked.
HTML sitemaps are the sitemaps that users can view and are a great way to provide visitors with a simple, easy-to-use overview of the entire website. Working a lot like chapters in a book, users can find the relevant link and be taken straight to the page. Using SEO to develop your sitemaps is vital for improving the user experience and making your most important information even easier to find for both visitors and Google. It even links nicely back to internal links as you have placed all the links on one page in a natural, easy-to-use page, making it a lot more convenient than trawling through content pages looking for the telltale blue words that might take you through to the page you want.
Review your sitemap before submitting it. Make sure it’s relevant, with canonical URLs, no redirects, and no URLs blocked from indexing. Update it with new pages regularly and add other tags outside of the URL location, such as page priority, update frequency, and the last time it was updated to help Google along in its journey of understanding your website. And remember, just because there’s a limit of 50,000 URLs for a sitemap doesn’t mean you should try and put in as many as possible. The shorter a sitemap is, the better, as this is the best way to project to Google what your most important pages are, which increases your chances of ranking.
All that’s left to do now is audit your website and make sure everything’s working as it should be. A website audit is where you check the page speed of your website, look for any issues on mobile page rendering, check the content is formatted correctly and carry out the technical audit, which checks your crawlability and indexing issues.
One of the big things you don’t want is broken links and 404 errors. You want your users to be able to find the information they’re looking for without any of the frustration and hassle that a 404 page can kick up. The fewer 404 pages generated, the more reliable and trustworthy your website will be to users, increasing time spent on your pages and helping you rank higher in the SERPs.
Spend time after the website has launched to carry on checking everything to make sure it is all running smoothly. If there are any issues, it’s a good idea to be on top of it so that you can resolve problems easily, maintain your ranking and keep your page as a trustworthy and valuable source of information to users.
Redesigning your website using SEO is about the harmony between the user and the search engine. The goal is to make sure your site is the best for both sides of the equation. SEO is the surest way to make sure your website performs well. It helps to increase your website’s efficiency. It makes your pages and content more valuable to the visitor and Google, broadcasting your site’s importance, getting you ranked higher in the SERPs, and generating traffic for your business. SEO is thorough, effective, and guarantees you will end up with a powerful, fresh, and valuable website that is better than what you had before.