When you decide to get a new design for your website, you think of the way it will look, function and sell. But many business owners forget about the way their newly revamped website will rank – or think that ranking is something that is not related to the website’s redesign.
Of course, rankings are not about the fonts and gradients your web designer uses, but to a great extent they are about the website structure. A new design means new pages, urls, and navigation, so it’s important to keep SEO in mind when creating it. Here are several tips that will help you get an amazing new design for your website without losing its position in the search results.
Planning the New Web Design
Get SEO Advice When Planning the Structure and Navigation
A good idea is to let your SEO and your web designer work together to plan your new website. Keyword research and SEO knowledge will help them build the navigation in a way that is clear and convenient both for search engines and your users. For example, it’s important to place the most important pages closer to the root of the website – that way they are easier for users to find and for search engine spiders to crawl.
Avoid “Form Over Function” Approach
Of course, it’s important to get an impressive up-to-date design, but remember that some of the web development and design technologies are not search-engine friendly. Some websites that look stunning are impossible for spiders to crawl, and that is a sure way for a fatal drop in rankings. So make sure your design and development team uses SEO-friendly techniques, even if the result is not as sexy.
Implementing Your New Website Design
Do On-Page Optimization Before the Launch
The website will be indexed by search engines shortly after you launch the new version, and it’s better to get it indexed when it already contains all the necessary keywords. The right way to do this is to develop your on-site SEO strategy along with the design: define the keyword group for each new page, write new content, if necessary, and optimize the pages while still in the testing phase.
Make Sure You Don’t Have Duplicate URLs
Your content may be 100% original, but if there are several URLs for one page, search engines perceive the content as duplicate and penalize your website. Most often this happens to WordPress blogs and ecommerce websites, where categories and filters create multiple addresses pointing to the same page. Several solutions to this problem are implementing canonical tags, using the no index meta attribute, or creating a robot.txt file.
After the Launch
Don’t Forget to Redirect
Just like you leave your new address to get your mail forwarded when you move, tell Google where to go to see your old content. Moreover, your users will appreciate that, too: there probably are plenty of old links scattered online, and if you don’t put 301 redirects, these links will lead nowhere. Plan your redirect wisely: find a corresponding new page for each old one and make a list of matching links.
Submit Your Sitemap
Sitemaps help search engines understand your website better and crawl it faster. Generate an XML sitemap and submit it to Google and others – and make sure your sitemap is automatically updated when you add new pages.
Good position in search results is not something that is attributed to your website and remains stable – change your website thoughtlessly, and you’ll see the impact on your rankings immediately. So make sure your new website is the right combination of great looks, usability, and SEO-friendliness.
When you last redesigned your website, did you consider SEO? Did you see any change in rankings after the launch? Feel free to share your experience in the comments below.