As a digital marketing agency, we constantly see websites hindered by SEO mistakes. This article will review the five most common mistakes and offer tips on how to navigate an SEO-forward redesign.
What good is a fresh and beautiful website if it has no digital presence? When redesigning your company’s website, you can’t focus solely on icons and the large hero banners that span the top of your first page. Consider all the elements that will catch a search engine’s attention and drive traffic.
When redesigning a website, avoid common search engine optimization (SEO) mistakes that can undermine your website’s purpose. While this isn’t to say that you’re creating content for Google, you still need to appease search engine requirements if you want new visitors to be able to find you.
Learn to Speak the Language of Search Engines
To help you get started, this guide will outline five common SEO mistakes to avoid during your website redesign project. In addition, we’ll provide tips to ensure none of your efforts go to waste.
Your website should speak to both visitors and search engines simultaneously, and these best practices will show you how.
Mistake 1: Not Setting Goals
A crucial step in redesigning a website is figuring out what you want to achieve. From there, creating a blueprint for content and user experience are two key SEO elements that will help you accomplish these goals.
To start, ask yourself these questions:
- What are your main business goals?
- What are your secondary business goals?
- What do you hope to achieve in the long-term?
Then, determine the following:
- Who are your ideal customers?
- What are their attributes? Creating user personas will highlight what material needs to be prominent on key pages. Be sure to list every applicable persona.
Consider the personas of your different customers as part of your redesign. As the image above shows, questions and comments they might ask include:
“What can you do for me on the price?”
“Can you send this to me in an email?”
“Looks great. Just let me run that by management.”
“We just renewed our subscription.”
The third step is to make a list of key features that your ideal customers need to easily find what they’re looking for as they navigate your website. Incidentally, a clear site structure will help you achieve your goals for your website, like users filling out a contact form, booking a demo, or even making a purchase.
Search engines prefer to send their users to intuitive websites that are easy to navigate. Work backward from your goals to figure out what your visitors want. Once established, use this insight to inform the user experience you create.
Mistake 2: Not Shopping Around for an SEO Compliant CMS
A content management system (CMS) is a vital optimization tool that allows you to control all your content. A CMS is arguably the most important facet of a website, so why settle for the first one you find?
The image below shows a typical post section of a CMS.
Check out several different systems to find the one that offers the greatest ease. A CMS that includes the most advanced and relevant features will give your website the biggest SEO boost.
Some of the most popular options are:
Whatever platform you choose, it should have these features at a minimum:
- Responsive Design: This approach means your site will have full functionality whether displayed on a laptop, desktop, smartphone or tablet. With this functionality, your site will automatically respond to a device’s screen configurations. Search engines want a website that naturally fit different pieces of hardware.
- Advanced analytics: Highlight what aspects of your website are working and where gaps might exist with an advanced analytics tool to continually improve your website.
- Optimized Speed: Search engines will knock your website down in the rankings if it lags or has a slow load time. Moving to a faster CMS could see your platform jump up considerably in the rankings.
A website and CMS shouldn’t have the feel of an arranged marriage. Look around and use the one that checks the most boxes for what you need.
Mistake 3: Forgetting the Importance of Sharing
Sharing features are key to embedding on your website. Give visitors the ability to easily share pieces of content or pages with their networks.
Ease of sharing will increase awareness of your business, lead to an uptick in traffic, and build links to your website—something every search engines loves.
Here are four tips to ensure your content is shareable:
- Produce content geared to your audience so that they’ll naturally want to share it. Review trending topics on networks like Twitter to get an idea of what’s being discussed.
- Make every piece of content shareable in less than two clicks.
- Incorporate social buttons and calls-to-action that encourage visitors to share content.
- Pair each piece of content with a customized image that meets the spec requirements for sites like Facebook and Instagram.
Don’t let your content go to waste. It can easily find an audience if you’re diligent about making it shareable.
Mistake 4: Using Too Few or Too Many Keywords
Keywords connect search engine users to relevant websites. Before embarking on a redesign, dig into some keyword research to find an assortment of specific, long-tail, location-based and product or service-focused ones to target, then find where to include them throughout your website.
Follow these steps to research keywords:
- Break down your business into buckets using these topics: customers, products and/or services and location (country, city, neighborhood, intersection, address).
- For each bucket, list as many keywords as possible. Keep it focused.
- Generate a keyword list from an online planner. The most popular one is from Google, but SEMrush and Moz also offer their own highly capable versions.
- Cross-reference your list with the one provided by a keyword planner to create a master list.
Few things that impact SEO as much as keywords. Without overusing them, which is called keyword stuffing, make sure you include them in the optimization of these aspects:
- Title and headings
- H1 header tags
- Image alt-text
- Internal links
- Meta title
- Meta description
- Video descriptions
Take your time with researching keywords. Websites that are lacking in keywords will miss out on valuable opportunities.
Mistake 5: Failing to Plan a Post-launch SEO Strategy
SEO is a marathon that requires a continuous strategy to maintain relevance to search engines. Keep in mind that the rules are always changing based on algorithm updates.
Carve out some time from redesigning your website to formulate a post-launch SEO strategy. This should include:
- A content strategy and calendar
- A social media component
- A list of keywords to include in all new content
- A list of your online goals
Once you have a month’s worth of analytics, it’s time to start rolling out SEO initiatives to make sure your new website doesn’t grow stale in the eyes of search engines.
Make Your Website Redesign Much More Than Cosmetic
Before you launch your website redesign project, recognize what SEO mistakes you need to avoid. While new fonts and icons make a website more modern looking and inviting, SEO is what will drive more traffic to your site and generate new business.
Look beyond merely the aesthetic and visual dimension. Using the right CMS and keywords and making your website shareable and easy to navigate will give you the best chance at landing on page one. Consult with an SEO specialist to learn more about how your business can optimize its SEO efforts.