It could be time for a redesign if your website isn’t operating as effectively as it should. About 73% of businesses regularly invest in website redesigns to enhance their rankings. In a recent case study, a simple redesign helped TYKMA Electrox, a prominent laser equipment provider in Ohio, improve lead times by almost 300%.
While redesigning your website can be an added cost, the benefits outweigh it as having an outdated website can harm your company’s reputation and credibility in today’s tech era.
Redesigns, when done correctly, can improve rankings while also having a significant impact on SEO. However, if the redesign is rushed and redirects aren’t correctly mapped, it can wreak havoc on your navigation and cause traffic loss. When redesigning your site, avoid the traps that can negatively affect your SEO – the following SEO checklist may help.
What Is a Website Redesign?
Redesigning a website involves significantly improving the code, content, structure, and overall design of your website. 50% of consumers believe website design is an important part of a company’s image and should be maintained to keep up with changing trends.
No matter how well-designed your website was in the past, it can quickly become outdated. Here is what an Amazon web page looked like in 2001.
As you can see, keeping up with current trends is essential. Design best practices, technology, and your target audience’s expectations will all change over time. Another important factor is accessibility. When viewing a website for the first time, 38% of visitors notice the layout or navigation of the page.
If you’re lucky, smaller modifications may be all that’s needed as part of a website update, but big changes may be necessary if you need to update your layout or navigation. In either case, current best practices must be followed to ensure that the SEO of your freshly renovated website is not harmed.
Benefits of a Website Redesign
As previously stated, redesigns are not without risks, particularly in terms of how they may affect SEO, but when done right, they can provide significant benefits including:
- improve SEO and site performance
- simplify the user experience
- refocus your content strategy
- give your site a fresh look
- provide updated security and faster load speeds
The most obvious advantage is for your website to look current and welcoming, but a redesign can be much more than that. A redesign will give you the chance to change the fundamental structure of your website and make it easier to navigate for visitors. Also, as your business naturally grows so should your website.
Keep it Simple
Finally, when it comes to design and user experience, keep everything simple. Avoid overly intricate designs that make it difficult for visitors to navigate and find the information they need. If your design is overly complicated, a redesign may present the perfect opportunity to fix it.
When Are Website Redesigns Necessary?
It might be difficult to determine when a website makeover is needed. You’re probably spending a lot of money on your redesign, so you want to make sure the timing is perfect. The following are the main reasons for a website redesign, according to a 2020 survey:
- low conversion rates (80.8 percent)
- high bounce rates (65 percent)
- needs better UX (61 percent)
- not responsive on all devices (53.8 percent)
- outdated website (38.5 percent)
- not SEO-friendly (23.1 percent)
It’s important to remember that with digital marketing, user experience is everything. It’ll show up in practically every metric, and it’ll influence your bottom line in the end.
Conversion rate is the metric that most website owners care about. This could be an indication that it’s time to rebuild your website. Conversion rates fluctuate and differ based on the industry you work in.
If your website is in the Real Estate or Home Improvement industries, for example, your conversion rates will be approximately 7%. If you work in the media and entertainment industry, though, it may be closer to 18 percent. However, if your conversion rate is chronically on the decline, it’s time to plan a website makeover.
Another technique to tell if it’s time to make changes to your website is to look at it through the eyes of your visitors and ask yourself the following questions:
- Does the branding seem on-point?
- Do pages load quickly?
- Is your site laid out in a logical way that’s easy to navigate?
- Are your pages optimized for mobile?
- Is it difficult to find the information you’re looking for?
- Is your customer journey streamlined enough?
See how you stack up against your competitors by comparing your website to theirs. A website refresh can be the answer if your site is good in some areas but missing a few features in others. On the other hand, if a lot of problems are holding you back, it’s probably time for a complete website overhaul.
Website Redesign SEO Considerations Before Getting Started
Page speed has a direct and indirect impact on SEO. Slow loading times are the most common cause for users abandoning a website, according to 88.6 percent of poll respondents in a 2020 survey. This is just one reason to be aware of the various aspects that can influence website redesign SEO— redesigning a website isn’t something to be taken lightly. When things go well, the benefits are fantastic, but when things go wrong, they can be a nightmare.
The first step is to think about your goals, what you want from a website redesign, and what reasonable goals you can set.
To set the right goals, you must have some benchmarks for your current website performance. You can use your analytics to help develop SMART goals.
After you’ve agreed on your key goals, you may start planning a timeframe and assembling a team. To keep things running smoothly, you’ll need excellent designers, developers, and content managers, but don’t overlook one crucial aspect: communication. Your team needs to be working together and communication is extremely important.
Website Redesign SEO Checklist
This website redesign SEO checklist will help you stay organized and ensure you don’t overlook anything vital during the process.
Audit Your Existing Content
Content is what makes a website visible. Content marketing is used by 82% of marketers, and it is the foundation of many successful businesses.
A website redesign SEO procedure can boost your content efforts to new heights, but first, you must have a clear image of where you are to drive where you should focus your attention.
To begin, use a tool like Screaming Frog to pull data on all URLs included in your website.
Next, use your analytics and Ubersuggest to perform a complete content audit to determine your most important pages, see which pages are irrelevant or not needed anymore, and which should be redirected or combined with other pages.
After following these steps, you should have a clear idea of which pages (and keywords) are most important. Look at your traffic stats, rankings, and conversion goals to see where other improvements can be made.
Update Information Architecture
Over 60 percent of users report leaving a website due to bad navigation. Although website navigation and information architecture (IA) are different, your IA should inform how your site navigation is structured.
Information architecture is about how you organize information in your sitemap. Navigation is how you organize your website.
As mentioned earlier, 38 percent of people will look at a site’s layout and navigational links on their first visit. Let’s use this example post: “How to Scale Mt Everest.”
If a visitor has to find it by navigating through a tips page, then climbing strategies, then Asian peaks, before finally clicking Mt Everest, it’s going to be nearly impossible.
Wouldn’t it be a lot easier if the process could simply be Peaks > Mt Everest > How to Scale Mt Everest?
How you organize information all depends on what your website is about, why people come to your site, and what information is most valuable.
To update your IA:
- Start by creating a map of your current structure
- Do competitor analysis to see how your competition organizes their websites
- Use a tool like Hotjar to see where users click and how they interact with your site
- Using note cards or post-its, write down the main categories for your site
- Next, write your subheadings based on the data you’ve collected
- Write down the URLs for pages you keep, and organize them under the subheadings
- Create a new sitemap based on what you created
Carefully Map URL Redirects
According to a Semrush assessment of 150,000 websites, 42.5 percent of those examined had broken internal links. I noted at the outset that website redesign SEO techniques aren’t without risk. The most serious of these problems is indeed the possibility of losing a lot of the time and effort you put into developing your organic profile.
In the world of SEO, tiny tweaks can make a significant effect. According to 60% of marketers, SEO and content marketing are their primary sources of leads. The structure of your entire website will be altered by a website redesign. Some pages will be relocated, while others will be removed entirely.
Let’s go back to our example article on “How to Scale Mount Everest” that’s bringing in lots of organic traffic.
The issue is that you put it under an inaccurate category and gave it a jumbled URL structure. You want to correct this, so you modify the category and URL. You haven’t even touched the material yet, but this move has the potential to have major ramifications. This is because there are links leading back to the old URL that led to a blank page when users (and bots) click on them. You’ll lose not only your referral traffic but also the page and domain authority that those backlinks have already built up if you don’t use URL redirects.
Redirects can get very messy with a large website, so it’s important to carefully map them. Here are some strategies on how to map URL redirects effectively:
- Create a list of all URLs you are keeping as well as those you will no longer be using
- Create another list of content you plan to keep that will be under a new URL
- Match each old URL with its new URL
- For the URLs you are getting rid of, match each to new content that covers a similar topic
- Give the list of new content mapping scenarios to developers to implement the redirects
Optimize Content You’re Keeping
You should have a notion of what content you want to keep after performing your content audit and which content needs to go or be updated. A website redesign is a great way to freshen outdated information and breathe new vitality into it. By itself, this method can boost organic traffic by up to 106 percent. Content deterioration is a reality. New information becomes available, competitors invest in their content, and your top pages are abruptly moved to the bottom of the search results.
Click through rates for the top organic rankings drop off extremely quickly:
- 1st result: 34.2 percent
- 2nd result: 17.1 percent
- 3rd result: 11.4 percent
- 4th result: 8.1 percent
- 5th result: 7.4 percent
Dropping out of the top rank will instantly reduce your organic traffic, thus it’s critical to optimize your existing pages. What else can you do to boost content rankings? Your website redesign SEO should help with the UX side of things, but what else can you do? To see how your content is performing, use Google Search Console or an SEO tool like Ubersuggest.
Find out which keywords your best-performing content pieces rank for. Add target keywords to headers, increase keyword density (without cramming) throughout the content, and use keywords in picture alt text and file names to boost your results even more. Examine areas that aren’t doing as well as they should. Rewrite it or update it with new links and studies, as well as data points, expert interviews, and visuals or videos, to make it better.
Optimize Page Speed
The importance of page speed cannot be overstated. Everyone has experienced the frustration of waiting for a website to load for an eternity, and you know what happens when that happens: users leave and hunt for information elsewhere. People nowadays expect things to happen instantly thanks to technology and websites are no exception. If a website takes more than four seconds to load, 25% of visitors abandon it, and a one-second delay results in a 16 percent loss in consumer satisfaction. Engage the website Redesign SEO Checklist to optimize page speed and remember:
- Websites can become bloated with content over time
- Use SEO techniques to take advantage of the potential to boost page speed
- Make sure your photos are the correct size and format
- Check if embedded videos are loading, if they aren’t, use tools to shrink file sizes or edit movies
- Reduce the number of HTTP requests
Update Your XML Sitemap
Your XML sitemap is like your website blueprint. Google and other search engines use it to understand the purpose of your content and it’s crucial for good website redesign SEO. You can either do this manually by adding every URL in your updated site to the map or use an SEO plugin like Yoast or AIOSEO to generate one automatically.
This is a simple but important step. If Google is looking at an incorrect XML sitemap, their crawlers may ignore your site entirely (as confirmed by Google’s John Mueller).
Test Your Site After Redesign Is Complete
Broken links can destroy your website. When testing your website after a redesign, all links should be checked. If you launch your new site without first testing it, broken or misdirected links could have serious consequences. Schedule time to review all of the modifications on your test site, better yet, enlist the help of your friends and family who can offer a fresh set of eyes to test your site. While testing doesn’t forget to:
- Test CTAs
- Test site navigation (it should make sense and all tabs/navigation links should be clickable)
- Look at side navigation links
- Review forms, pop-ups, and exit overlays if you use them
- Audit internal and external links
- Pay close attention to interactive content and purchasing pages
- Have people text on desktops, tablets, and mobile devices (Android and iOS)
Any mistakes you find should be documented in a spreadsheet and reviewed with your developer. If you master the testing phase, you’ll be able to catch a lot of mistakes before they reach the end-user.
Conclusion: Website Redesign SEO
There will come a point when you need to consider a website redesign. This is a critical time for you and your business, and it must be handled carefully. When it comes to SEO, a website redesign involves a lot of risks, but it also has a lot of benefits. To maximize the benefits while minimizing the risks, you’ll need a structured approach, which our website redesign SEO checklist can provide.
If you prefer our team to take over and recreate your website while maintaining your SEO “juice”, contact us today to get started.