The website redesign is, for many businesses, a significant undertaking. All parties involved have considerable time and money invested in the project, and close collaboration is needed to ensure the process runs smoothly.
Among decisions about design, content, and architecture, sometimes attention to the old website’s search engine placement is neglected. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind for your next redesign.
While the content on your new website doesn’t have to match the old content exactly, it should provide as much, if not more information. It should also have a similar density of keywords. A “keyword”, for search engine optimization purposes, is simply the words or phrases that best describe your product or service.
Be sure each page of your site contains as much descriptive information as possible. Refrain from including blocks of text in images, since it won’t be understood by search engine crawlers.
Using Google Keyword Planner or any other online tool, figure out the most common word or phrase used to describe your product or service (e.g. fishing rod versus fishing pole). Use this keyword in the product page’s URL, title tag, meta description, page headline, and within the first paragraph of the copy on the page.
Pay close attention to the metadata setup at your current site. Are the title tags and meta descriptions concise, accurate, and do they contain keywords? You’ll need unique titles and descriptions for each page on your new site. Make sure they are similar to or improvements on the old layout.
Use a SERP (search engine results page) preview tool to ensure that the title and descriptions you write won’t get cut off in the search results.
Redirection is perhaps the most important consideration when redesigning. Use tools like the free Google Search Console to identify which pages of your site are linked to from elsewhere on the web. In Excel, create a redirection map that pairs each URL on the old site with a new URL on the new site, and have your developer implement 301 redirection for each pair.
By having redirection in place, users will reach the correct page on your new site if they follow a link pointing to a page at your old site. In addition, search engines will understand that you’ve essentially moved your web content to a new location. 301 redirection protects the search engine ranking and page authority your site has earned over time.
Worth Your Time
These additional steps will add time and cost to a project, but as the internet increasingly becomes a driver of new business, they are worth the effort.
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