SEO Tip – August 2011 – The “SEO Effect” on a Website Redesign

So you are thinking about updating or redesigning your current website. Search Engine Rankings should be factored in to your redesign project in order to maintain existing rankings and to optimize for the future. Here are a few things you should consider when you are in the planning phase of your website redesign.

Website Maps:
Compare your current website map (sitemap), with your new website map, and make sure the pages all match up. If you are keeping the same structure, just make sure to add any new pages or categories to the new sitemap. If you are making large scale changes to your website, make sure you use a 301 redirect on any page you will be changing the URL, page title or meta tag on. Let’s say for example you are cleaning up an older site, and the catalogue of products on the old site is cumbersome and hard to optimize for SEO. The new site will be much cleaner, but the URL structure is going to change. You will want to 301 redirect the old product page to the new product page in order to maintain the link structures you have already built up over time.

It’s unlikely that you will be able to contact 100 websites that may be linking to your content or product pages, but if you use a 301 redirect you won’t need to. A 301 redirect tells the server what page to deliver, and will maintain the benefit of the linking structures you already have in place. See the example below.

Old page URL: www.abc-company.com/10654/prod/bin/64/2011%05/cookware/sku=12895609

New page URL: www.abc-company.com/cookware/fryingpan.html

The new page is much easier to find, it’s easier to optimize for and ultimately it will rank better. Simply add a 301 redirect to the old page URL and you will get the benefit of the new page and structure, as well as the authority you have already built up on the links from the old website.

Important note, if you do not add 301 redirects on your old pages, Google may see both pages in the index for a while and show it as duplicate content. This will make it more difficult for the page and the site as a whole to rank well.

On-Page Content and Title Tag Consistency:
If you are going to the trouble of redesigning your website and you are updating your products and services, it might be a good time to look at the content on each page, and determine how consistent the on-page content is with the meta tags.
Content has become increasingly important over the last couple of years to Google. It’s not enough to update the look and feel of your website, in order to rank well you need to update your content. A website redesign is a great time to review and edit the existing content on your website. Make it consistent with the keywords and meta tags you use on each page and your rankings will increase.

There are a couple of quick tips you should consider before you launch your website redesign. If you really want to focus on SEO throughout the redesign process you may want to go through a full scale SEO_Audit to look at all areas of the site. SearchRankings continue to get more and more competitive, the more attention you spend on the details, the better you will match up to the competition. For more information on how an SEO_Audit can help you click here.

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