Thinking about a website redesign? Jumping into such a task can often be daunting, not only from an aesthetic standpoint, but also from a search engine optimization one. The world of SEO is an ever-changing beast, and it's imperative that your web developer values a search engine crawler-friendly website as much as you do.
We work extensively with our web marketing clients to make sure their websites are fully optimized, both for search engines as well as their social media marketing efforts. So I was excited to see an article that confirmed all of the work we've been doing.
Last December, Jill over at High Rankings.com wrote an excellent piece called, "6 Website Redesign SEO Secrets Your Developer May Not Know, and I'd like to reiterate her main points. They'll prove to be great touchstones for the next meeting with your web developer.
1. Creating Your SEO'd Site Architecture
Are the pages that focus on the more competitive keyword phrases high up in the website's hirearchy? Is category-specific content cross-linked? To the common search engine, pages that are linked to every other page are weighed heavier than pages that are linked to just a couple other pages.
2. Categorization and Avoiding Duplicate Content
Do the top-level pages answer the user's questions in a clear and concise manner? Are there any duplicate content issues that need to be corrected? When people utilize search engines, they come with a specific question or problem. Those top-level pages must immediately address how your product or service will take care of whatever need brought them there. Furthermore, the landing page URL must be consistent to avoid PageRank splitting on the analytics end.
3. New Content Management System and Changing URLs
If the redesign brings URL changes, have the old URLs been re-directed? Oftentimes a redesign comes with a new content management system. While this is exciting, it often comes with headaches in the way of a site index lag for the new URLs, which need to be re-directed to pass on link popularity. It also prevents those pesky 404-not-found errors.
4. Coding of Navigation Menus
Are the navigational menus coded with CSS that is crawlable? Keep in mind that drop-down box links, DHTML, and Flash menus are not visible to search engines. Thus, the internal link popularity of the pages linked within them is inaccurate.
5. Custom HTML Elements
Does the website's content management system have unlimited fields for custom title tages, meta descriptions, heading tags, etc? Automated titles and metas are always helpful, but the flexibility of creating your own descriptions is critical. In otherwords, keywords are key.
6. Session IDs and Other Tracking Links
Are only the "clean" URLs being fed to the search engine spiders? If session IDs are being used to track visitors, the same content might get indexed with multiple URLs.
Bring up these points with your web developer before he or she starts the major overhaul of your website, and you will be well ahead of the curve of search engine optimization.
Posted on Wed, March 10, 2010
by Brian Waraksa