During the end of the year many businesses begin thinking about redesigning their website in an effort to breathe some new life into it. During a redesign it’s important to make sure you build the site in a search engine friendly manner. You really need to address a number of SEO tactics before you get too deep into your redesign, this will mean you do not lose your previous traffic and can also gain additional targeted search engine visitors when the new site goes live.
Here are 6 SEO site redesign tips to keep your new site search engine friendly:-
1. Creating Your SEO’d Site Architecture
Search engine spiders pay a lot of attention to how your pages are linked together, pages that have inbound links from every other page on your site will be given more weight than those that are only linked from a couple of others.
Don’t bury content that was previously bringing targeted search engine traffic too deep within the new sites structure. Ensure that content focused around the more competitive key terms are placed fairly high in your sites hierarchy.
2. Categorization and Avoiding Duplicate Content
People seeking information from a search engine tend to have a question, problem, or a need for specific information. The search terms they type into the search engines reflect this. The more ways you can categorize your content for different target markets you serve, the better.
Try to make sure that all of your top-level pages answer the visitors potential questions, and make it clear that your products and services can solve their problem. To avoid any duplicate content issues you should also ensure that regardless of how someone found any piece of content on your site, they always end up at the same URL. For example, if a specific product can be classified as both a product and a service, it makes sense that it might be listed under both categories. However, the page (URL) that the potential customer eventually lands on, regardless of which category they started in, should always be the same.
3. New Content Management System and Changing URLS
Search engines take time to index new URL’s and give them any kind of weight. During your redesign if URL’s have to be updated for any reason, whether it be due to a new content management system or back-end coding, it’s vital to 301-redirect all old URLs to their relevant counterparts on the redesigned site. This will ensure that the link popularity of the old URL’s are swiftly passed onto the new ones, this will also ensure site visitors don’t receive 404-not-found errors if trying to access old URL’s.
4. Coding of Navigation Menus
Any links that are contained within the navigation menu of your site should be coded in a search engine friendly manner. Some DHTML and flash menus are invisible to search engines, so can’t be crawled which consequently causes the pages linked within them to not receive the link popularity they should and possibly even not get indexed at all.
Ensure all navigational menus are coded with CSS, this will make them visible and therefore crawlable to the search engine spiders. It’s also best to make sure your content can be reached by hard-coded links, don’t force visitors to go through any kind of search box menu as they are generally not very search engine friendly.
5. Custom HTML Elements
Some level of automation for metas, headers, URLs, and alt attributes for images can be helpful but it’s vital for an effective optimisation that your new websites content management system (CMS) allows you to manually input custom descriptions for these as well.
Make sure your CMS has fields available to enter data for meta tags, heading tags, etc. Some systems only allow one set of global tags but it is far more effective to optimise individual pages so try to use a system which has this function.
6. Session IDs and Other Tracking Links
Generally it’s best not to use session IDs to track your sites visitors, however if your system has to use them you’ll only need to feed the “clean” URLs to the search engine spiders , otherwise they may get caught in an infinite loop, indexing the same content under multiple URLs which will result in duplicate content issues.
There will probably always be a few unexpected bugs to work out when your new site goes live but by following the above at least you won’t have to be afraid of losing your search engine visitors. There’s nothing like the feeling of having your beautiful new website launched, but even better is knowing that the people looking for what you offer will continue to be able to easily find you in the search engines.