No matter what type of website you’re running, it is important to keep it looking and operating properly. This means you will need to occasionally conduct a significant redesign to keep people interested, incorporate the latest web standards, and generally keep up with latest design standards. A sign redesign can take a lot of time and effort, but it can lead to many great benefits including increased time on site, increased interaction with visitors and most importantly, increased sales.
Unfortunately, when redesigning sites many people make mistakes that can cause their search engine rankings to tank. Even if the rankings eventually rebound, the drop can lead to a massive loss in traffic and profits. With this in mind, take a look at the following common mistakes and how to avoid them.
Focus on Mobile
If you’re making any type of update to your site, make sure you are thinking mobile first. Search engines are punishing sites that aren’t mobile friendly now, so this should always be a priority. If you already have a mobile version of your site, make sure that it is updated at the same time as your main site. If you have a responsive site that displays properly on both mobile and standard devices is also a great option as long as it is configured properly.
Check Your Search Engine Crawl Settings
Many people will create the new version of their site first and have it in a /new/ folder or something like that. To prevent SEO issues, a setting is applied to prevent the search engine bots from crawling anything in the /new/ folder. While this is a great idea while creating and testing the new version, it can be devastating if you don’t disable that setting before moving it into the live folder. Many people have created new versions and failed to allow search engine bots to crawl it. Even if you remember a few days later, the damage may already be done. The search engines will see it as if all your site content is gone. While you may be able to recover, it will likely take you a little while.
Failing to Migrate Content
Part of most site redesigns involves moving content around and organizing in a better way for the new design. If you don’t migrate your existing content properly, however, it can cause huge SEO problems. If your URL changes, for example, make sure you put in a good redirect so that the search engines find it immediately. Even if some content is no longer going to be available through normal menus, it may be a good idea to leave it up for the search engines in case it generates content. If you’re completely changing the direction of your site, however, that may not apply.
Optimizing Visual Content Properly
Visual content today comes more in the form of videos, HTML5 content that allows for animation, and things of that nature. If you don’t take the time to set the tags properly on these items, it can really hurt your SEO. In the past, most images were SEO optimized with titles and other identifiers that helped the search engines know what the image was. Today, it is too easy to overlook those type of simple steps, which can make it more difficult to retain your rankings.
Any time you are looking to redesign and update your site, make sure you always go through a good SEO checklist and avoid the most common mistakes. When done properly, a redesign can have beneficial results. When done wrong, it can hurt your site for months (or more) to come.