Top 5 SEO mistakes when redesigning a site

June 1, 2015

When it comes to a website redesign, more often than not, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is overlooked until the website is complete and ready to go live. Agencies build a responsive design, but don't consider how to fill the shell of the website so that it can be found by users. It is important to think about Search Engine Optimization from the start of a new web redesign project and not as an afterthought once the website is live.

SEO should be at the core of the design process because content is what drives visitors to the site and encourages them to return. With this in mind, here are the top SEO mistakes to avoid when you redesign your website as recommended by the Prototype team.

1. Don't leave SEO as an afterthought

We all know that Google rewards great user experience and, along with a well designed, responsive website, content plays an important role in ensuring your visitors enjoy their time on your site. This means that content and SEO need to be involved with the entire design process, not just slotted in at the end. Here are the steps to ensure SEO is at the center of your website redesign:

  • Personas - consider the types of personas coming to your site and their pain points.
  • Keyword discovery - complete an extensive keyword discovery and ensure to align with the website personas and content for the site.
  • Once the sitemap is created, map out the URLs and keywords for each page to ensure each page has a targeted keyword. Consider taking this one step further and map out the top 25 page titles and meta description too.

2. Don't Forget to install your analytics

You want to make sure you have set up your analytics code on your new website before launch so you can track the health of your site immediately.Consider installing the Google Tag Manager code on your redesigned site instead as this replaces your Google Analytics code and means you won't have to duplicate efforts later. You can then start tracking your macro and micro goals on your site to monitor conversions with Google Tag Manager and the second version is much easier to use.

3. Changing your link structure and URLs without implementing 301 redirects

If you don't need to change your URL structure it is a good idea to keep it as-is. However, if you need to change the URLs, be sure to:Implement permanent 301 redirects to appropriate pages, especially with pages that have high link equity. You can use tools such as Majestic SEO or Open Site Explorer to help identify these pages.Design a creative 404 page with helpful links and relevant information so that users don't leave your site instantly.

4. Forgetting to unblock search engines

It is common during the design phase of a redesign to add NoFollow tags so that search engines understand not to crawl your site. However, it is important to remember to remove all NoFollow tags from the HTML or CSS code once the website design is complete. If you do not remember to do this, search engine robots can't crawl your site and your website will not show up in search engines.

5. Designing an unresponsive site

With the release of the latest Google algorithm change in April that favors mobile friendly sites, it has never been more important to have a responsive website that can adapt to the size of any device. Google will now crawl your site for a variety of elements to including text size for mobile and whether users can use their fingers easily to navigate your site. A responsive site is the best option as it will respond on any size screen for any device type, such as iOS or Android. A mobile site, even though it offers a great mobile experience, will need to be built for each device.

What is the main takeaway? SEO is the art of learning to technically optimise while still remaining to think like a human. Consider what each visitor is doing when they come to your website and what they want to achieve. You website needs to be easy to navigate and concise and design, SEO and content play hand in hand in making this a reality. Get in touch with a search specialist agency in order to avoid these common seo mistakes and come up with the perfect optimization game plan for your business.

Written by
Alexander Rauser
Alexander Rauser


Alexander Rauser is the author of Boardroom Guide to Digital Accountability and Digital Strategy: A Guide to Digital Business Transformation, and creator of the DSX Program, a digital strategy and transformation program for Enterprises.

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