As you can see, we’ve given the website a bit of a spruce up over the past few months. Hopefully, we’ve improved the usability of the site, and the updates will assure our customers (and prospective ones), as well as Google, that we are moving with the times and our content is fresh.
Our updates have been mainly cosmetic, but it did alert us to a number of SEO and social considerations that are worth bearing in mind if you are due to do similar work – and they are absolutely essential if you are planning a more comprehensive overhaul.
It might seem obvious, but planning is essential. Pore over your analytics data to see how folks are using the site currently and ask yourself which content is performing best and which might need improving. Work out and prioritise the key areas you are looking to change. For search, this a great time to ensure the keyphrases you are ranking for in Google etc are as relevant (and converting as well) as they were when you last updated (or originally launched!). Ensure you have a complete migration strategy in place if you are moving altogether.
2. Domain Name
In simple terms, your domain name is your web footprint to date. Search engines favour websites whose domain names display authority from their age, the amount of relevant content displayed on their pages and the links it crawls from other sites to yours. Changing this without due care will lose all trust from Google et al. and you might unnecessarily be starting from scratch. However, there are certainly times when changing your domain might be important or essential. If so, ranking problems can be minimized by permanently 301 redirecting your old domain to the new one and seeing to update those who link to you (especially the big ones) that you’ve moved.
3. Links and Landing Pages
This is a similar issue to what I mentioned above. But you can still run into problems with broken links from websites (hindering your search rankings) and social platforms (potentially affecting traffic from web-users). As above, being sure to redirect old pages to new pages will help. Essentially, you want to ensure that any of the old routes users might have used to get to your site before are ending up in the most relevant place possible, and not at some ugly error page…
4. 404 Error Pages
You might be keeping your domain name and have been through your links with a fine tooth comb, but there is always the possibility someone might end up on a page where there is no content anymore – especially during/after a redesign. However, all is not necessarily lost. Customize your 404 Error Pages to ensure users know they are still on the right website, there is a problem and you apologise, and that there are easy links to click through to somewhere relevant (here’s ours).
When redesigning your website, keep your audience updated with the process via your blog, newsletters and social channels. This can be a great opportunity to pool the opinions of your community and to alert them that things will be different and possibly slightly amiss. Facebook is perhaps an example of a site which doesn’t do this so well – judging by the amount of complaints they get from disgruntled users when they implement changes. On that note, if you notice anything strange with our redesign or have any feedback, please get in touch!