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Providing your online business with a stunning layout and the perfect interface takes time, but the results are worth the hard work. But even with top-notch web design, there is always room for improvement even without losing SEO. And when you add the passage of time into the equation, the need to stick with current trends also dictates the changes a site must go through.
Launching a finalized website doesn’t mean that it won’t need to undergo updates and design overhaul in the future. After a while, your business needs rebranding and you need to improve your site’s UX capabilities and traffic prospects. Achieving that requires a complete overhaul of your website.
These enhancements also help with your website’s SEO projections. However, what if your website is already perfectly optimized for SEO? Will the redesign negatively affect the things that ensured the rankings in the first place? If so, how can you revamp your site and improve rather than negate your existing SEO settings?
Before we get into the nitty gritty of SEO-Friendly website design, let’s recap some basics.
On Google and other search engines, the content that appears on the very first search engine results pages (SERPs) is what often garners the most clicks and activity from web users. As a result, this position is highly coveted by internet users that bank on traffic and user engagement with their websites.
Search engines know this, and they usually try to shake things up by offering different content creators and site owners what should be an equal opportunity to potentially appear on top position of the very first SERP.
It is worth mentioning that, when discussing SEO, most of the talk generally revolves around Google since it experiences the most activity out of all search-based web clients.
The same will be the case here, although it’s worth saying that how Google ranks sites isn’t fundamentally that different from how Bing or Yahoo do so. So, if you’re interested in these rankings through these platforms, this article can work for you too.
In any case, to rank websites, search engines must index them till they have a list of names that are suitable for rank promotions in search results. To select, search engines deploy “crawler” software which analyze web content and determine its suitability for indexing.
It’s clear that some websites do better at SERP positions than others, and such outcomes are not random. In fact, Google and its competitors have certain guidelines that determine which sites are ideal for better ranking.
Adjustments to help boost your website without losing SEO
Search engine guidelines are often subject to change, but most of them nonetheless underline key aspects that help websites perform better. The following are standard practices through which site owners or web developers ensure top positions and should also be kept in mind for SEO-friendly site redesign.
- Engaging, user-friendly web design
- On-site Adjustments (URL optimization, robots files, sitemaps etc.)
- Keyword selection
- Off-Site backlinks
- Website performance (Speed, mobile-first design)
- Site maintenance
Comprehensive web design includes all manner of modifications and tweaks that improve user experience and enhance SEO visibility. At the same time, steps that have little to no contribution to your rankings need reconsideration as well. Here are some examples of activities which many wrongly believe have a significant or direct impact on SEO.
- Website age
- Author rank
- Amount of text content per page
- Content accuracy
- Keywords in meta descriptions
- Technical backbone of site
For one thing, the provision of quality content certainly has to do with improving user convenience, but that alone does not impress crawlers. Plus, keywords are meant for sparse and strategic use, rather than abusing them in a sea of content that is already more than anyone asked for.
Strategies that are supposed to improve rankings must be foolproof and achieve tangible results. That is also the case with SEO-friendly redesign.
Stages of Site Redesign Without Losing SEO
Restructuring a website does not happen overnight, nor is there any point in rushing it. For online businesses, the transition from one site outlook to another might require meticulous planning depending on the ultimate aims and objectives.
And with that, the developers must also curate a strategy to carry out this redesign without negatively affecting the site’s existing SEO achievements or assets. These changes were likely expensive upon initial implementation and should remain intact and untarnished as an investment during and after the site undergoes a complete makeover.
On that note, SEO-friendly website redesign involves two key stages: before and after the publishing of the refurbished site.
When you have finalized on a path to site reorganization, you need to plan changes in accordance with SEO requirements. That means prioritizing what supports or boosts your position, and either ignoring what has no effect on SEO or going for it if the alternative has an undesirable outcome.
This is the stage where the bulk of meaningful changes will have to take place. Prior to launching a redesigned site in its final form, you need a list of required changes and make sure to achieve all of them to the best of your capabilities. Only after listing and realizing these requirements will your pages be ready for post-launch monitoring.
How great users think your site is relies on a mix of a stunning user interface (UI) and immense, unattenuated user experience (UX). If your website already looks amazing, you can keep the existing theme after the redesign. However, a lot of site owners feel like their pages could use a slight touch up and try new things.
It’s true that room for improvement is a common issue worth exploring in site redesign, especially if you’re trying to clear up the clutter and reach an organized, stylish look that achieves more with less.
This approach to site design is practical and can be considered essential to SEO-friendly site redesign if it drives in more users and lowers the load on pages.
Similarly, interactive or dynamic site-features can also require seeing to while remodeling your online store or business. Things like improved forms, site menus and navigation options, booking and payment mechanisms, multilingual capabilities, search features, etc.
If you don’t have these things, adding them to your site can help trigger more conversions. And if you have some features, you can look for ways to improve them like making them more user-oriented or integrating them through code instead of plugins where applicable.
Some steps involve standard adjustments to make your site more visible if they match the criteria for certain search queries better than your competitors. For instance, custom, SEO-optimized URLs and robots files that actually allow crawlers to access your site details.
On the subject of URLs, multilingual websites can promote pages in various languages by adjusting links so that they become more accessible to people that can understand them better. If you hadn’t done this before, the redesign process is as great a chance as any.
Meanwhile, XML sitemaps are another area worth considering. If you’re adding new features and relevant pages to your site, updating these maps is something worth considering. However, some experts argue whether sitemaps are in fact a necessary element of SEO, so this might not be a high priority task compared to the others.
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This is perhaps the most influential area of expertise in SEO-friendly website redesign. When planning a complete transformation of your site, you’ll need to do something about pages that will either require updates or complete deletion.
If you create new pages and just leave links to the old ones lying around, users might experience 404 errors. While these errors don’t directly affect search rankings on their own, backlinks that relied on quality redirects might suffer and take your SEO prospects down with you. Part of this issue can be fixed by simply removing old pages from existence.
301 redirects can help you solve the rest of this problem. Basically, if a page with valuable traffic stats has moved on to a new URL, you can add an HTTPS code to old links that guide users to the new, fully updated page without affecting these stats.
Similarly, if a previously existing page is no longer available, a new, helpful page can take its place and offer something to users rather than just display an error message.
This is a crucial step which, for large, commercial websites, requires completion before they become available to the public. If you’re having trouble optimizing all of the pages for redirection, your sitemap might help you pinpoint the targets.
Maintaining Site Performance without losing SEO
Website speed is one of the most important determining factors in ensuring conversions. Loading speed is important to impatient site visitors as well as potential business partners if you run corporate pages. Delayed sites tend to hemorrhage traffic quite quickly, and as a result lose their popularity search rankings.
So, your SEO-friendly redesign strategy must include measures to either preserve or augment loading speed. This involves pruning burdensome features like unwieldy media formats, custom themes and plugins, etc. Meanwhile, things like coding over ready-made features, hosting solutions, and lightweight, performance-oriented design will work in your favor.
Another crucial factor is mobile optimization. Most online businesses lack mobile-first design, which is primarily an issue because phone users form the bulk of their most profitable audiences. Also, because phones offer user experience that is not available through Desktop, Google now also prioritizes mobile-friendly sites in SERP rankings.
Therefore, if your initial site was not iPhone or Android-optimized, the redesign will provide ample opportunity. If these changes already exist, make sure to keep or improve them during and after the site overhaul.
At each step of the redesign process, it is imperative that you repeatedly monitor each implemented change to see that it is working as it is meant to. That way, you can move on to the next stage knowing that you have satisfied the first one thoroughly and have left no stone unturned.
Discovering that there are issues with your final design when it has already been live for some time is awkward enough as it is. Managing these changes while the site copes with the surge in traffic is much more difficult.
Trying to then restrict pages so that you can make fixes is a valiant effort, but the damage is already done and this might just worsen visitor experience.
Therefore, this step includes the more important changes that are difficult to postpone, like checking redirects, auditing backlinks, mobile optimization, and monitoring visibility and site performance stats.
The aim of pre-release tactics in SEO friendly website design is to assure that any changes either work around or improve a business’s SEO reinforcements. As we discussed, this differentiates them from less urgent but still necessary adjustments that occur once the site is live and open to the public.
After publishing your newly refurbished and revamped website, you need to make sure that all the pertinent changes are working and not affecting user experience or SERP visibility.
Unlink pre-release changes, these should be manageable once the site is already attracting traffic without influencing usability. These include alt tags, site accessibility, media, and other things that can be tweaked in real time to avoid any further complications.
Running a fully functional, search-friendly, and traffic-oriented site is a continuous process. With that in mind, the effects of SEO-friendly website redesign require constant and close monitoring with the passage of time so that things continue to pan out as they are meant to.
Web maintenance is an essential component of commercial dealing on the internet. It does not directly impact SEO, but the effects of poor maintenance can have a significant influence on your standing if your competitors can overcome the same issues that you fail to address.
Monitoring your site allows you to take a close look at traffic analytics and trends and see if any changes correspond with issues in site usability. This enables site owners and developers to diagnose issues and fix them before they become an obstacle in your pursuit of SERP rankings.
There is more to restructuring a website than tweaking the code, changing the layout, and calling it a day. Commercial site owners that rely on traffic and conversions for revenue need robust changes, especially when rankings are on the line.
With SEO-friendly website redesign, you can accomplish all the changes to your pages without harming or neglecting the things that make it favorable in Google’s eyes. By keeping a list and having a plan of attack, these changes will actually promise returns.