It's no secret that updating your website is important for SEO performance. Even the most straightforward website fixes can keep your site performing well and increase organic traffic. Fortunately, website content management systems make it simple for non-experts to update existing content and create new pages and blog posts.
However, even with the best intentions for user experience and design, it's easy to make website design mistakes that hurt the overall SEO makeup of your website. Whether you're thinking of outsourcing your SEO or plan on managing it all in-house, here are a few website redesign tips to keep in mind that will help you avoid common pitfalls and make your site standout to both search engines and users.
1. STOP and Think before changing URLs
If you think of the internet as the "world wide web," search engines are effectively spiders crawling that web looking for content. They can only navigate it by crawling specific URLs. If you change a URL, search engine spiders can get "lost" and prioritize other competitor websites over yours. That's why you should be cautious about changing the URL on a page that has been published and gaining rankings for a while.
That said, if you absolutely do change a page's URL, you must create a redirect. This is the best way to preserve your search engine reputation. Without a redirect, your old URL will result in a 404 error, and too many of these errors will result in search engine performance penalties and create frustration among your site visitors. You should understand that you will be starting fresh with rankings and other valuable metrics.
2. Keep keywords and search engines in mind while writing for your audience
Balancing SEO content that appeals to your audiences and performs well in search engine results can be challenging. It can be tempting to make your content as keyword-laden as possible to get clicks and better rankings.
However, search engine algorithms are becoming more sophisticated every day. Currently, algorithms tend to prefer content that sounds like humans wrote it for humans, not search engines. Keywords and keyphrases are still important, but it's equally important to keep your audience engaged on the page and clicking through to other pages on your site. The more time a visitor spends on your site reading one or more pages, the more likely Google will see your content as valuable.
3. Take the time to check keyword density
When updating or writing SEO content, it's important to use one or more keywords that make your page searchable. Once you've written the content, check it for keyword density before publishing. There are a few free tools you can use, such as SEO Review Tools and Yoast's Real-time Content Analysis. These tools let you know how frequently your keywords appear in your content and the recommended density.
Keyword-rich content doesn't mean wall-to-wall keywords, however. Your content should be easy to read and useful to your audience above anything else. Keyword stuffing can dramatically hurt your SEO performance, but finding a balance takes practice.
4. Don't ignore meta information
Just as important as highly-readable, useful information is content that readers can't see. Your meta information, alt text, and tags are important for search engines to find and display on search engine results pages (SERPs). Meta information, or metadata, literally means "data that provides information about other data." These bits of text are what search engines "see" and, in text-based searches, they serve as preview information to entice readers. You need to adhere to best practices for each piece of metadata, which change based on Google updates.
5. Keep site speed in mind
Generally speaking, people have short attention spans and aren't willing to sit around and wait for your website to load. If it takes too long, they'll head to the next search engine result to find the answers they're looking for. To keep your site loading quickly, make sure your image file size is small, videos embedded on your site don't play automatically, and all plugins you use are up to date.
6. Optimize for mobile and desktop
One of our top website design tips is ensuring your site looks great on any device since many users are more likely to conduct web searches on their phones than laptops or desktops. Using a responsive design that preserves specific elements and adjusts automatically to fit all device screens automatically is one of the best and easiest ways to do this. If your site wasn't built to be responsive, you'll need to enlist a professional to make the necessary changes.
7. Employ clear brand messaging
As the saying goes, you're only as good as your word. Your website is your best chance to make an impression on your audience and tell them a story. Maintaining consistent messaging across your website that speaks to your brand and what you offer is the best way to do this. You'll need to articulate your unique selling proposition and messaging in ways that drive your audience further down your sales funnel.
8. Optimize for WCAG & ADA compliance
This is one of the most common website redesign mistakes. Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is tricky for website design because the requirements aren't codified into law as they are for buildings and signage. Instead, web designers rely on Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which provide best practices for various levels of accessibility. Luckily, website redesign SEO and WCAG best practices are pretty similar, and following the best practices can boost your SEO performance. This is because many pieces of information are needed for screen reader software, such as header tags and image alt text, which are also highly desirable for search engine crawling.
If you're tasked with updating your web content and redesigning parts of your website, don't forget to follow these SEO tips for your business's website redesign. Most content is easily updated within your content management system (CMS) on your own, but having a professional in your corner can help you avoid making mistakes that hurt your search engine performance. Brightlark Digital's team is well-versed in SEO best practices and provides full-service support for SEO management, marketing campaigns, paid media, and more. Schedule a video call for a no-commitment consultation to see how we can support you.
March 30, 2023