how to redesign a Website for seo
On average, organic search attributes to over 30% of website revenue for brands. If mismanaged, the launch of a new website redesign could tank valuable organic performance, and take your team months to recover. Read on to learn how to keep SEO and performance top of mind during your next website redesign.
Reasons for a website redesign
Keeping up with the Joneses across the digital landscape isn’t just for vanity, it’s a matter of survival.
Do you monitor competitor websites? If so, you probably noticed a number of full redesigns in the last couple of years. Back in the day, websites were redesigned once every three to five years. Now, it’s commonplace for a redesign to take place every two to three years. Why? Data.
More companies today leverage performance data insights to inform website design, content, and development. With tools like Hotjar, Google Analytics, SEMRush, and Google Search Console, it’s easier than ever to gain a holistic view of how your current website measures up to larger business goals and digital trends in your industry.
How do you know if your website is in need of a full redesign to improve performance? If you answer “no” to a majority of the questions below, it may be time for a redesign.
Things to consider before redesigning a website
- Does my website still align with larger business goals and objectives?
- Does my website convert at a high rate when compared to industry benchmarks and competitors?
- Does my website provide a good user experience across all devices and browsers?
- Does my website rank well in organic search for key services and supporting topics?
- Does my key audience engage with website content in a way that drives leads or sales?
why seo matters for a website redesign
“You should build a website to benefit your users, and any optimization should be geared toward making the user experience better.” – Google
Developing a website that solves the needs of your key audience is synonymous with optimizing for search engines. Long gone are the days of ranking at the top of the search engine for niche keyword targeting and a couple backlinks. Today, Google uses over 200 ranking factors to read, analyze, and ultimately rank a web page. Each of these ranking factors are rooted in how well your website supports a user throughout their entire search journey.
website redesign process
To preserve and grow your organic reach after launch, your team should have a clear plan that includes performance and SEO considerations at each redesign stage. Below is a guide to help get you started.
A Performance Discovery aligns the redesign team on direction and purpose. During this stage, dig into the larger business goals, website performance benchmarks, and key audiences. The output should be a Performance Brief that summarizes the findings below.
- Business Insights: Larger business goals, strategic initiatives, and brand positioning. Also look to industry trends in the digital space.
- KPIs and Supporting Metrics: Define KPIs and Supporting Metrics that align with Business Insights.
- Performance Data Insights: Audit how KPIs and Supporting Metrics are tracked within data platforms. Analyze historic website performance across all channels. This includes revenue, conversions, and conversion rate.
- Website Technical Insights: Audit the technical performance of the current website. This includes site speed and other crawlability gaps and opportunities.
- Audience Insights: At the forefront of your redesign project, the entire buyer’s journey should be mapped based on search intent. This blueprint supports all other stages of your project, from design to development. Identify key audiences across the entire buyer’s journey. Analyze historic online behaviors and search intent from data platforms.
Typically, information architecture (IA) is the first tactic of a website redesign project. IA traditionally is handled by a design team. Unfortunately, design teams don’t normally provide IA recommendations based on performance and search insights. This often leads to missed opportunities to structure the website in a way that makes sense for search discovery and full-funnel conversion paths.
To ensure strategic performance and search data informs website architecture, ditch traditional IA for a Content Strategy. A Content Strategy provides strategic website architecture recommendations based on high-value topics, audience insights, and content gaps and opportunities.
- Identify Topic Clusters: Research and identify key topic clusters (pillars and supporting content). Each Topic Cluster should identify key audiences, target KPIs, current search market share, and top competitors. This is formally known as keyword research.
- Content Audit: Audit current content across the website based on Topic Clusters. Evaluate content types, content depth, content authority, and internal linking,
- Content Architecture: Identify gaps and opportunities of the current website’s URL architecture based on the Content Audit. Provide a restructuring strategy that supports intent-based content across the entire customer journey.
Performance and design don’t have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, great design should be centered around quickly connecting with key audiences and providing clear paths to conversion. Below are design considerations to ensure your website redesign has beauty and brains.
- UX Data: Leverage platforms like CrazyEgg and HotJar to understand how users navigate (or don’t navigate) the current website. Identify gaps and opportunities to improve conversion paths and page layouts.
- Build for Speed: Remove or minify CSS bloat. The most common barriers to website speed are large images and CSS files. Audit areas of bloat and make a plan to resolve prior to launch. To improve speed and crawlability, also make sure all assets can be easily read and crawled by Google. Review how a specific page is rendered for users and Google with the URL Inspection Tool.
- SEO Best Practices: Design and SEO teams need to work together to optimize for things like mobile UX, alt attributes, header usage, meta data, and crawl-friendly content and links.
The technical development of your redesign is just as important to SEO and performance as user-facing content. Development and SEO teams should work together on the elements below to build a healthy backend.
- Secure Hosting: On average, Chrome and Firefox account for over 70% of browser traffic for websites. Both platforms have implemented secure browsing methods to protect users from untrustworthy sites. Ensure your users aren’t presented with security warnings when searching for your site. Get secure hosting (https://) for brand trust and improved crawling.
- Conserve Your Crawl: Consider the depth of content across your website. If your site has more than 1000 pages, there are only so many pages Google will crawl before a limit is reached. This is called a crawl budget. Factors that impact crawl budget beyond depth of content are site speed, 404s, duplicate content, and more. Use robots.txt to tell Google which pages are not a priority for search.
- Serve Google Rich Data: If you’ve performed a Google search recently, you’ve probably noticed how results are displayed with reviews, product details, questions and answers, snippets, and more. These are called rich results. Search engines use structured data to understand and display your content as rich results in the SERP. Developers and SEO experts should work together to define what type of structured data will be used across the website. Learn more about how to implement structured data.
Launch & Post Launch
The final step to a successful website redesign project is one of the most important to preserve organic traffic and performance. Make sure you nail this one.
- 301 Redirects and Canonicals: Website redesign projects with an SEO focus often come with large URL restructuring recommendations. A 301 redirect and canonicalization strategy is super important to account for URL changes and preserve organic traffic after launch. This includes 1-1 redirects and canonicals to ensure each priority page (and all of their authority) gets transferred to the appropriate new URL. This is a highly technical and risky step. Experts only here.
- Performance Tracking: To monitor how well you’re trending towards KPIs after launch, set up tracking for all performance metrics from the website. This includes both macro and micro conversions. A macro conversion is a lead or sale. A micro conversion is a CTA click or newsletter signup. Document how you’ll be tracking all macro and micro conversions within Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, a CRM, or other performance monitoring platform after launch.
- Sitemap Submission: After your website is live, tell Google your pages are ready to be crawled by submitting your sitemap to Google Search Console. Monitor crawl successes and errors. Resolve errors that can impact crawl performance.
Key takeaway, the success of a website redesign project isn’t measured by aesthetics. Success of a redesign project is measured by how well the website retains, and is set up to grow, high-value organic traffic after launch. At Fierce Performance Marketing, we understand what it takes to ensure your redesign is set up for long-term success. That’s why we offer SEO services to help you throughout the entire redesign process, and beyond. Contact us today to learn more.
Fierce Performance Marketing
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