When does it make sense to involve SEO in a site overhaul or redesign? Now — before you do anything else, no matter whether you’ve just begun to plan the rebuild or if it’s nearly ready to relaunch – get SEO input before you do anything else. This is all about preserving existing search engine visibility and transferring that marketing strength to the shiny new site, while setting your business up for improved SEO in the future.
- Call an SEO before starting a redesign if your business relies on search traffic for any significant portion of existing revenue. (What would happen to revenue if all search traffic disappeared?)
- Call an SEO before starting a redesign if you haven’t sought advice on how search referral traffic may be affected by that shiny new code. (What is the value per session of a search visitor?)
- Call an SEO before starting a redesign even if your developer says they have considered SEO and built in necessary elements in their plan. (There’s much more to SEO than they will factor in)
There are dozens of reasons to get an SEO involved early during planning stage. Here are an important dozen plus one:
- If URL’s will change, it’s worth heroic efforts to avoid that change – or carefully manage 301 redirects if URLs must change.
- Semantic indexing elements dramatically affect search engine click through rates and should always be included by development teams.
- Be certain all existing page types get moved into new site design – especially high traffic informational pages that generate and convert leads. These pages are sometimes not on the radar of design teams with new ideas for some page types.
- Use an SEO crawler before relaunch to list all existing pages so none are missed in mapping 301 redirects to new page versions that change by even a single character, including updated URL path directory naming conventions.
- Pull current copies of XML and HTML sitemap and verify both will include proper URLs, priority settings and update schedule prior to relaunch.
- Update robots.txt to reflect any URL updates and page indexing disallows as well as verifying correct XML sitemap pointer on that file.
- If the site will be moving from non-secure http to SSL and https that is considered a separate domain by Google and must be submitted and verified in Google Search Console. Critical to monitoring site health and continuity with prior reporting data.
- Make certain that all meta data makes the transition without changes on pages that reliably bring high search engine referral traffic.
- Site navigation and footer links determine internal page authority. Be certain hierarchy is well represented in the navigation and there’s a link to the HTML sitemap in the footer.
- Apply canonical elements pointing to a single URL to page types that display same content in multiple formats. (Query strings, ID numbers, internal path tracking, sort orders by color, size, etc.)
- Page load speed determines search engine bot crawl budget and crawl rates for your site – will it be optimized to load quickly to get crawled frequently?
- There is consistent pressure from many directions to limit text and clean page design (often, sadly, removing breadcrumbs) – consider accordion text areas rather than elimination of text and include those breadcrumbs regardless of best arguments to eliminate them.
- NEVER remove legacy content that generates consistent search referral traffic – move it into the new design, refresh any outdated elements and protect your legacy content.
Call Mike Valentine for Site Redesign SEO Consulting.