There are tons of web design checklists available for web designers and developers. These checklists are great for helping to make sure that everything gets done and that no steps are forgotten before you go live with your website’s redesign. Some of the tasks in these checklists are often neglected, and many of them are important for the SEO of our site. This post goes over some of the most important factors in regards to the SEO factors of a website’s redesign and reviews some of these often forgotten tasks.
As with any website that hopes to attract organic traffic, be sure to optimize all on-page elements. Taking care of the simple things such as optimizing title tags and image alt tags is easy to do, but often forgotten about. Check out Optimizing On-Page Elements of a Website for a list of on-page recommendations. If you are redesigning an e-commerce site, check out Tips for Optimizing On-Page Elements of an E-Commerce Website. SEO Browser is a great resource to see how a website looks to search engines and is awesome for making sure that the on-page elements are optimized.
While all on-page factors are important, there are some that seem to be neglected more than others. It is important to double check that:
- The site is not noindexed or blocked in the robots.txt file.
- The home page and main pages contain strong, unique content (at least a few paragraphs).
- The XML sitemap has been updated and includes only pages we want indexed.
- All duplicate content and taxonomy pages (i.e. category pages, author pages, date pages, etc.) are noindexed.
- The site has good URL Structure. Keep URLs simple and avoid excessive parameters.
- The site uses pagination where appropriate. See Indicate Paginated Content.
- The site has Canonical Tags on the homepage and any pages with similar content.
- Every page on the site has a single, unique H1 header with other headers in a hierarchy underneath.
- All Images have Alt Tags.
- All internal links have informative anchor text. (not “Click Here”)
- There are no broken links.
- The site has an effective 404 error page.
- The site has good page speed- Check out Google’s Page Speed Tool
- The site looks good and works as it should across all current browsers and devices.
Another important, and often neglected, SEO factor to consider before going live with any redesign is 301 Redirects. Make certain that your old webpages 301 redirect to relevant pages on your new site. 301 redirects will pass the history of the old pages on to the new pages. Check out Redirect and SEO: What to Do When Redesigning Your Website for more info on redirects.
Tracking Tools and Verification Tags
When redesigning a website, you need to be sure to transfer tools such as Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools, Remarketing Tags, etc. from your current site to the redesign. You may want to consider using Google Tag Manger to make things easier going forward. Google Tag Manager helps us to keep tags organized and will make it easier to add new tags in the future.
Make sure to customize your tracking tools in regards to your new site. For example:
- Update goals and events in Google Analytics.
- Submit new XML sitemap to Webmaster Tools.
- Update destination URLs in Google AdWords (and any other paid ads).
Don’t forget about setting up rich snippets. Search engines use these to help users find the information that they are looking for, making it important for attracting organic traffic to a website. More information on this can be found at How Rich Snippets Can Benefit Your Website. Webmaster tools has this great tool to check your structured data. More information can also be found at schema.org.
Update Links, Feeds, Social Media, Etc.
If the URLs on your new website have changed, make certain you update them on your social networking profiles such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. If your website is an e-commerce site, make sure to update your product feeds for tools such as Google Merchant Center. After a redesign, it is important to make sure that all the links to your site have changed to coincide with the redesign.
You Are Ready to Go Live
Once you go live with your redesign, be sure to regularly monitor the website’s health with Google Webmaster Tools. Webmaster Tools allows you to see your site as Google sees it which is obviously important. For an overview of Webmaster Tools, check out Google Webmaster Tools Breakdown for 2014.
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