Don’t Forget About SEO When Redesigning Your Industrial Website
Redesigning your industrial website can be a complex process. Do you build it yourself, hire an outside developer or buy an out-of-the-box solution? Will you need a content management system or shopping cart, and if so, who is going to be responsible for keeping the site up to date? It can be quite a chore to make sure you get the look and feel you want, revise all the page copy, decide on navigation schemes, AND get it all done within the budget and deadlines set for your redesign project. Keeping track of the whole project is a project in itself!
One thing that is easily missed during the process of redesigning a website is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Unfortunately, this can lead to catastrophic consequences for your website including: reduced visibility in search engines, loss of indexed pages, lower traffic, and lost revenue. And, if you have previously invested in internal marketing or SEO, you could be throwing away work you have already paid to have done.
Here are a few common pitfalls to avoid during your redesign.
Not addressing page titles, Meta descriptions, alt tags, and H1 tags.
Often, during a redesign, tags get overlooked because they are in the code behind your site and not visible on the actual page. They are out of site, out of mind. However, they are integral to SEO and your search engine rankings. Many companies pay for SEO, and then completely forget about it when they do a redesign. Their search engine rankings and traffic plummet, and they are left scrambling to put it all back on the site (once they finally figure out what went wrong.)
Changing page names or file extensions without redirecting them.
If your new website uses different file extensions (for example, “.php” vs. “.asp”) or has completely different URL’s from your old site, you will want to make sure you 301-redirect the old pages to the new pages. Basically, you’re telling the search engines that you permanently changed the old URL to a new URL. This is important if your old website has been indexed by the search engines, and especially if you have some good rankings for keywords that are bringing you traffic and sales. If you don’t do this, you risk losing traffic and rankings from search engines.
Forgetting about links to your site.
Other sites linking to yours is an important factor for SEO. Run a link report before you go live with your new site and check your analytics to see if any links are sending traffic to pages on your site that will have new URL’s. If you find some, you will want to contact them with the new link information so they can update your link. Your 301 redirects should help with this too.
Ignoring your 404 error page.
The search engines can take a little time to update their results pages with all your new, shiny pages. Just in case you don’t catch every URL that changes when you do your 301 redirects, or if you have an ecommerce site that frequently adds and removes products, you’ll want to make sure you don’t lose the visitors that click on an old search engine result. Create a custom 404 page that has your branding and navigation along with text that encourages visitors to stay on your site. If you don’t create your own 404, visitors will see a plain, “page cannot be found” message and probably just click their back button to find a site that works.
Forgetting your XML sitemap.
An XML sitemap is designed for search engines, allowing them to find data about your site faster and more efficiently. XML sitemaps are a great way to make sure it is easy for the search engines to index all the pages on your site. If your website software doesn’t automatically update your XML sitemap when you have major changes, you’ll want to manually create a new one and submit it so Google will know the site has had major changes.
Not installing your analytics code.
In order to know if your redesign helped your traffic or usability, you need to accurately measure. Make sure your analytics code is on your new website before it goes live, then you won’t lose valuable data. Then you can watch traffic, bounce rates, page views, and time on site to make sure your redesign has helped and not hindered.
Using a website development company that doesn’t understand SEO.
Of course, the best way to avoid SEO problems during a redesign is to use a website development company that understands SEO and builds it into your project from the start. A development company that understands SEO will be able to help you avoid these and other mistakes so you don’t loose ranking, traffic or sales.