Re-launching a new website is an exciting but nerve racking experience for any business. The opportunity to build something bigger and more visually impressive is great, but getting the look right can sometimes come at the expense of user experience and Google rankings.
This post outlines 4 important SEO considerations to think about when developing a new website and it is as much for web design companies as it is for any business thinking about re-launching their website.
1. Website structure is everything – how do you get it right from the start?
Building a new website without first considering the search engines will have a dramatic effect on the rankings of any new web site
- Avoid a drop in traffic – Get the site structure wrong and page authority and page rank will fall as will sales as the site disappears from the search results. At Hallam plenty of companies come to see us with exactly this problem asking why my website traffic has dropped?
- Think about SEO considerations at the start – Why not make the most of the opportunity to improve your site by thinking about SEO considerations before you build it? Why launch your new site only to later discover that your blog and e-commerce categories have no meaning to visitors or to Google?
Solution – Involve a reputable local Nottingham SEO company to work with your website designer
- Involve your SEO Company – Get your SEO consultancy to help plan your new site and brief your web developer. This will ensure that you’re in the best position to build your online presence and will help you to avoid trying to recover your search engine positions that have taken years to build up.
- Make informed navigation choices – Your decisions on navigation choices whilst sensible to your business, will impact on the success of your new site. Getting an SEO expert to research the best keywords will help identify the best structure and deliver the best possible experience for both visitors and the search engines.
- Don’t leave your onsite optimisation until after the launch – Retro fitting keywords onto a site after it has been built and indexed by Google is possible but is really an unnecessary, lengthy and complicated process.
- Avoid getting caught up in form over function – Many web design Nottingham companies focus on what they do best and build sites that look good and function well featuring all the latest web design trends and technologies. Web design decisions can have a major impact on the traffic to your site and the conversion rates of visitors buying your products or services.
2. How do you retain your website rankings when you rebuild your site?
Any web development company in Nottingham worth its salt must take the right steps to retain the authority and rankings of a site when redevelopment takes place.
- Consider the impact of website technology changes – Simply changing site technology from classic asp to asp .net or php will cause any site authority to drop as old page addresses and links to your site will no longer work. Google will drop your old page address from its index and companies may stop linking to you.
- Places important pages close to the root of your site – Hiding important content too deep within the site will make it harder to find for everyone and unless you redirect your old pages you will harm your rankings. So how do you let Google know about where you old pages and content has gone and where to find it on your new site?
Solution – 301 Redirects – Just like moving house, you need to tell Google where your old content and pages have moved to.
- Redirecting old pages to new ones – Creating 301 redirects to point old page addresses to the new ones will retain your site’s rankings in Google. On a technical level, 301 redirect or url rewrite rules can be implemented in IIS, web config or htaccess files or using CMS plugins depending on your website technology.
- Plan your 301 redirects – Before launching your new site, create a spreadsheet of all the old page addresses and match them against the most relevant pages on your new site and then ask your web developer to create the required 301 redirects.
- Test that 301 your work – Ask your SEO agency to then audit your site and identify any problems with the redirects shortly after the site goes live.
3. How do you avoid duplicate content problems – particularly with WordPress and e-commerce sites?
- Write unique content – Google simply does not like duplicate content on websites. All content on your new site must be unique and not lifted from other sites or repeated on multiple pages of your same site.
- Avoid duplicate URL issues – Web developer to inadvertently create duplicate content issues by creating multiple page addresses that point to one page. This will confuse the search engines no end and dilute your page rank.
- Tags, categories and filters on e-commerce and WordPress have the potential to cause duplicate content problems. It is quite easy to end up with multiple page addresses pointing to the same page, resulting in duplicate pages and indexing problems for Google. We recently audited a Magento e-commerce website which had 374 different page addresses for each product page.
Solution – Get advice from an SEO company who can help guide you on the necessary steps to avoid duplicate content problems.
Getting your SEO consultancy to work with your web designers will help prevent duplicate content issues. Some of the solutions for resolving duplicate content include:
- Implementing Canonical Tags – To tell Google what your preferred version of your content when you have a set of duplicate pages. If you sell the same product in different sizes, colours or materials and the content is duplicated canonical tags will need to be implemented.
- No Index – Using the no index meta attribute to tell Google not to include specific pages in the search results. This is useful for search results pages for example.
- Robots.txt – Creating a robots.txt file allows you to specify any site directories or pages that you don’t want Google to index or crawl.
4. How can you Help Google to understand the structure of your new site
It is important to help the search engines understand the structure of your new site. This will help your site to be indexed and visitors to find the information they are looking for.
Solution – Create a HTML and XML sitemaps and submit them to the search engines
- Create an XML sitemap – An xml sitemap will help search engine spiders to understand your site and crawl it more effectively.
- Create a HTML Sitemap – An on page html sitemap is a useful tool for visitors to find the key pages on your site and it should be styled to match the templates used elsewhere on your website.
- Automatically updating sitemaps are best – Ideally your sitemaps should be dynamically created using your website technology to ensure that any new pages are automatically included in your sitemaps.
- How to create a manual XML sitemap – If you sitemap is not automatically generated then you can either manually create one or use a sitemap creation site such as www.xml-sitemaps.com.
- Test your sitemaps – It is important to check your sitemap to ensure that it does not contain any development site URLs after you have launched the site.
- Submit your sitemaps to Google and Bing – Submit your xml sitemaps to Google using Google Webmaster Tools and Bing using Bing Webmaster Tools ideally within 24 hours of your new site going live.
Conclusion – SEO research and planning are key to the success of your website redevelopment project
Research and planning are key to the success of your new site so why not give your online marketing strategy the best possible start by involving your web design Nottingham company to work with your SEO agency from the outset?
If you are about to embark on a new website project then why not get in touch and we can work with you to help brief your web developer on the best SEO strategy for building your new website.
If you are a web design and development company looking to partner with a results-driven Nottingham SEO agency we’d love to hear from you.