Does your website look like it’s stuck in the ‘90s? Well, that’s a real bummer! Because the visual aesthetics of your website can have a lasting impact on your web traffic and sales conversions.
So, what do you do? Do you redesign the entire website? Well, that’s always an advised option but undertaking a website redesign can be a tricky and colossal endeavor. You have to face some confusing questions like: Where do I begin? What are the latest trends in designing websites?
But most importantly: How the redesign will affect your SEO and sales?
SEO is a tricky business even for experienced professionals. If you simply slap a new design on your website without considering SEO and its guidelines, it could seriously hamper your SERP rankings.
So, how do you make sure that your revamped website does not end up shoving your google ranking off a cliff?
All you need to do is follow this 7-point website redesign checklist to preserve your SEO rankings.
#1. Analyze your current design and user metrics
The first action is to take a hard, honest look at your current website. What needs changing right away?
Some questions that can help ease the process are:
- Which pages get the most traffic?
- Which pages get the most conversions?
- Which pages are seriously suffering in SERP rankings?
Do a few metric analysis using Google Search Console and Analytics and you will get these badly needed answers.
Next, you should map your users and their journey.
- Who is your target audience?
- Where are they coming from and where do they go?
- What does your audience wish to get from your brand?
- What are they doing on your website?
- Are you offering the best to them?
- Does your audience engage with your content?
- Do they accomplish what they came here for?
Using these simple questions, you can highlight the design areas to focus on from the users’ perspective. If you have a page that is already getting traffic but is not converting well, ask yourself how to improve this situation using unique design ideas like colors, placements, shapes, and formats that your audience would be most attracted to.
The key takeaway from this step is to draft what you are not doing right now. Figuring that out is a necessary requirement for a website redesign.
#2. Scan your competitors and gather innovative ideas
Take a quick look at all your competitor’s websites. Better yet, take a look at the websites of leading industry giants. There is a reason why they are doing so well. Incorporating ideas inspired by big-name websites will ensure that your web design does not scream ‘amateur’.
But what aspects of your competitor’s web design do you analyze and take inspiration from?
For starters, pay close attention to the user experience of their design. Is it user-friendly? Can you find everything easily? Do you enjoy the color schemes and calls-to-action?
Next, take a look at what kind of images they are using. Are they using stock images? Or are they using custom graphics to spruce up their website and pages?
Another great thing to pay close attention to is the content flow of your competitor’s site. What goes where and why? How are things formatted? Take a profound look at how they are doing it and then go back and do something similar on your website.
Taking these small, simple designing tips into account you can really boost the user experience as well as the SEO which will end up spiking up your conversions.
#3. Put your content first
Content is still the King. It’s not debatable.
One of the major areas to focus on during a website redesign is the existing content of your website. Is the content flow effective? If not, a website redesign is an ideal time to make some necessary changes.
Each webpage has a specific task to accomplish from an SEO perspective. This infographic by HubSpot will tell you all about redesigning a home-page and the elements that are an absolute requirement for creating them.
For skyrocketing your conversions, add these design and content ingredients to your pages and see the positive results.
Create a meaningful flow of content to offer a seamless experience to your users. This way, you will reduce bounce rate, improve clicks, prolong dwell time, and boost your SERP rankings.
Proofread your content and make sure there are no grammar, spelling or punctuation errors. As well, don’t publish duplicate or spun content on your revamped website. Always create fresh and new content for every page or else your ranking will suffer a nosedive, sooner or later.
#4. Take care of your on-page and technical SEO
On-page and Technical SEO are other important aspects of web design. Time to get technical!
There are already lots of articles on the internet that cover on-page and technical SEO. So, for this blog, we are going to discuss the things that you are most likely to forget.
- Check your Keywords: Ideally, more than half of the website’s visitors should be organic and targeted. A recent study found that around 91% of content suffers from the eventual death of organic traffic from Google. One of the reasons behind this is a lack of relevant keywords in the content. Re-examine your keywords that are already bringing in traffic. Validate their search and ranking competency data to finalize the required keyword list. Make sure to use LSI and conversational keywords that boost voice-based search rankings.
- Reinforce Metadata and Tags: Reconstruct the page titles, meta descriptions, Open Graph, headers, image alt texts, etc. with relevant keywords to boost rankings and attract more traffic to the website. Additionally, stop repeated usage of the same keyword on multiple pages. Not only does this confuse search engines but also significantly weakens your site’s chances of an organic ranking.
- Review Canonical Tags: Canonical URLs inform search bots the version of a URL they should index. If you mistakenly place a wrong canonical URL on a page, you may miss a lot of potential ranking opportunities. Hence, review each canonical URL and confirm its absolute parity with the respective page URL that you want the search engines to index and rank.
- Check Redirections: Changing up your website can lead to dangerous SEO territory if you do not pay close attention to your 301 redirects and 404 pages. If you forget to design custom error pages, your visitors will get some nasty browser-default ‘Not Found’ errors. If you forget to create or update 301 redirects, your visitors will likely exit your website.
- Update Sitemaps: The sitemap files tell search engines and users about the structure of your website and the location of each resource. If you change anything related to the link structure of your website, you need to generate a new sitemap.xml file and have Google crawl it. If you neglect to do this simple thing, search engines may get confused and consequently, your organic traffic flow will experience a major tumble.
- Check Robots: The robots.txt file tells search engines whether or not to crawl certain pages on your website. If you accidentally restrict search engines or block some resources, it would be SEO suicide. So, make sure to double-check this file.
- Markup NAP with Schema: If you are a local brand, consider adding your business’ Name, Address and Phone number (NAP) to your website. Additionally, think about marking up the NAP citation with Schema structured data. By doing so you can build a strong local citation reference for your local business.
Take extra care of on-page and technical optimization and you should be good to go. You won’t end up sabotaging your SEO while redesigning your website.
#5. Optimize for mobile devices
Mobile optimization can make or break your rankings in 2019. The simple reason is that more users access websites from mobile devices than from PCs. Presently, Google is pushing its mobile-first indexing policy really hard, thus causing mobile non-responsive websites to rank lower than mobile responsive ones.
So, if you are not targeting mobile users, then kiss your customers goodbye.
According to a survey conducted in 2018, 5.135 billion people use mobile devices worldwide. So, if your web design is not 100% mobile responsive, then you are in deep trouble. Besides, you should employ the AMP (Accelerated Mobile Page) versions of your webpages to serve mobile users.
In addition to being mobile-friendly, you also need to pay close attention to a site’s mobile usability as well. Inspect each clickable element of your webpages on different devices and screen sizes. If you encounter any sort of difficulty during clicking and tapping those, be sure to rework their placements.
#6. Try not to change URLs
Every time you change your website’s design you run the risk of creating broken links.
How does a website redesign kill inbound links?
If you change your internal URLs, every backlink to that webpage becomes a broken link. The worst part is that your hard-earned links will get snatched up by your competition instantly.
So, instead of boosting SEO, your new design will make it take a quantum leap in the other direction. Not just that, it can be a huge hassle to reclaim all these links for a comparatively large website.
Best practice? Avoid changing any URLs; especially for pages that are already ranking and getting traffic. In case you have to, make note of all the URL changes and place proper 301 redirections from the old links to the new URLs. Though recently there has been a debate about whether 301 redirections pass link signals or not. Ideally, they should.
#7. Do some speed testing
Here’s the thing:
Redesigning your website should be a strategic move. The vanity of big design-components can decrease your site’s load time immensely.
Above all else, it is essential to have a website that loads quickly. Otherwise, you are just left with a beautiful site that no one gets to see because everyone bounces off of it after 3 seconds of waiting.
Therefore, you should definitely speed-test your new design every step of the way and optimize as much as you can.
A simple 10-point checklist to speed up your website:
- Buy a good, reliable hosting server for the redesigned website
- Make sure to use the Gzip compression
- Enable browser caching
- Optimize image dimensions and reduce file sizes
- Enable lazy-loading
- Reduce the number of HTTP calls
- Consider using a good CDN (Content Delivery Network)
There is no limit to ideating innovative designs that will be sure to dazzle your visitors. But any good website redesign should be analyzed by how it benefits the business and its users and not by “how cool it looks”. One of the key reasons why data-driven web design is thriving is because it is actionable, simple, and easy to follow along with.
There are no restrictions as to what you can do in terms of design as long as it does not hinder the visibility and usability of your website. The minute that happens, your website will start to spiral down a rabbit hole, emergence from which will cost you a lot of time and money while hampering your business big-time.
The best approach to a complete website overhaul is to have a concrete game plan. Map out your activities and create a to-do list achievable within an acceptable timeframe. This will help you budget, manage, and market your website much more effortlessly.
If you are reading this blog, it means you are considering a redesign. We wish you all the very best. Be sure to let us know how it goes for you.
Guest author: Soumya Roy is the Founder, CEO of PromozSEO Web Marketing Academy, a digital marketing course in India. He has more than 11 years of full-stack digital marketing experience under his belt. Being an entrepreneur and digital marketing mentor and consultant, Roy loves writing contents related to social media, search engines, content marketing, business branding, etc.