Are you planning to redesign your website or create a new one?
Many companies spend an enormous amount of their time and effort on the design and user experience (UX) of their website. While this is important, there are many other considerations when revamping or building a brand-new site. These considerations have a strong influence on SEO, user satisfaction and a number of other variables that make finding your site easier through organic search.
Costs for a website redesign can run from just a few thousand dollars to many millions. When asked the question, “How much will it cost to redesign my website?” The short and first answer is, “It depends.” Cost depends on which features and new technology will be incorporated into the site.
However, there are a few simple best practices that can help when revamping a website – read on for our list of 8 things you can’t afford to miss when redesigning your site.8 things you can’t afford to miss when redesigning your site. #webdesigntips Click To Tweet
Building Blocks for a Solid Website Redesign
Hopefully, you’ve started your web build with the taxonomy in mind. Reviewing your current hierarchy and creating a logical sequential flow to your navigation is crucial. Having a well-defined hierarchy with directories and subdirectories will not only make the user experience better but will also have a positive SEO effect.
Check out Marking Land’s great post that thoroughly explains how to create a well-organized taxonomy.
If you’re doing a redesign, make sure you have a plan in place. All stakeholders need to buy-into the end functionality, the timelines, and milestones along the way to completion. We’ve seen too many companies leave an important stakeholder out of the process; delaying the site build and even setting them back to square one.
There are 3 distinct phases to a migration strategy; pre, during and post. For more information on efficient site migration, review this migration checklist from marketing technology company, Conductor.
Now that we’ve covered the basic things to consider as you start, here are the things companies are missing in their redesign and initial website deployment:
Items You Can’t Ignore During a Website Redesign
Security for your website is becoming more and more important. I’m sure you’ve heard or read about the increasing number of cyber attacks on websites. In some cases, the hackers are demanding ransoms in order for you to access your website and databases.Good #websitesecurity requires both regular backups and preventive measures. Click To Tweet
If you’re on a WordPress platform, it’s easy to increase your security. There are a number of plugins that allow you to ratchet down access to your site and its database.
All in One Security and Firewall
One of the highest rated (4.8 of 5 stars with over 500,000 installs) security plugins for WordPress, All in One Security and Firewall has an awesome dashboard to let you know the strength of your security. As you add security from the settings, you’ll see the meter increase. Chances are, you will not be able to implement all their features but you’ll be able to take your site from an easy vulnerability to a website that is tough to crack.
If you’re using other CMS platforms, conduct a search to find plugins for your specific install.
You should backup your website files and database regularly and store files locally. Your site may be hacked in such a way that you need to upload the backup files and restore your database. If you haven’t done regular backups, you’re in for a lot of extra work. The frequency of backups needed will depend on how often you are adding content. In some cases, a daily backup is needed and for more static sites, a monthly one will suffice.
We review over 300 sites a year in our efforts to take on new clients. I’m always amazed at the low percentage of sites have implemented micro-data on their sites. Schema has been around for a number of years and implementation is fairly straightforward.
Schema is a collaboration between Google, Yahoo, Yandex and Bing that involves adding structured data markup to your website. This on-page markup allows the search engines to better parse and understand the information on your web page so they can provide a better search experience to their users. Having a shared markup language through the search engines collaboration makes it easier to deploy, as there are not separate markup languages for each search engine.#Schema: It's not a ranking factor, but it does help showcase your site’s rich snippets and improves overall rankings. Click To Tweet
Will Schema improve my SEO?
The structured data tells the search engines exactly what the page is about by providing the bots/crawlers with additional information. You should think of it as a best practice that will help search engines find and display your content.
Although not a ranking factor, it does help showcase your site’s rich snippets and thus improving overall rankings. It can also be used in conjunction with Facebook Open Graph (see #4) and Twitter Cards.
To learn more, go to schema.org or click the links below:
Below is an example of a review that could be used for a restaurant, movie or store. Click the image to get the full details.
For very specific examples of the different data types, check out: A Walkthrough of Structured Data and Schema Markup with Examples by David Manng.
3. Page load speed
Page load speed became a Google ranking factor in April 2010. If you consider that Google wants their users to have the best experience using their search engine, then you understand why it’s important for your site to load fast. Consider your customer; if your site is loading slowly, you are losing customers and conversions. Here are more stats on the impact a slow site has on your business by KissMetrics.
“Gary Illyes from Google said at the Search Marketing Summit today in Sydney that Google will be updating the page speed ranking factor to specifically look at the page speed of your mobile pages when it comes to the mobile-friendly algorithm.” – Search Engine Land
Use: testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com to see what your page load speed score is. If you have a speed of 85 or higher (1-100 scale), you are in their ‘good’ category. Anything less, you need to improve your page load speed.
When you run your test, you’ll get information on your site speed, how it compares with other sites in your industry and recommended fixes to make your site load faster.
4. Facebook Open Graph
Implementing Facebook Open Graph on your site allows you to control what a shared piece of content looks like. You’re actually enabling your web page to become a rich object in a social graph. This tool is easy to implement and only requires a small piece of code in your HTML.
The three basic open graph tags you can use:
- og:title: Allows you to define the title of the post. If you don’t use this, Facebook will use your meta title instead. There is no limit to the number of characters in your title but for best results you should stay between 60-90.
- og:description: Similar to the meta description tag in your HTML, this is the description that shows below your title on the shared post. You want this to be compelling so the user will engage with your content. We also recommend a call-to-action in the description.
- og:image: Use this tag to help your content stand out. A strong image will get the user’s attention. Choose an image with this tag or Facebook will choose one for you.
Using Facebook Open Graph is easy if you’re using a CMS, and the tags will be assigned automatically. There are many tags available, not just the three shown above. To see the entire list, click here.
According to netmarketshare.com, Google ‘owns’ search on phones and tablets (95.67% market share YTD), and recently announced that Google is splitting their search index into 2 parts: mobile and desktop. The mobile version of the index will be more dynamic with more frequent updates than the desktop version. It will be the primary index that Google will use for search queries. This separate index will allow the Google bot to crawl the responsive/mobile version of your website and index it accordingly. The goal is to deliver better mobile-optimized content to searchers.
This new split index indicates that Google is going to focus more of its resources on mobile. It’s now critical that you have a responsive/mobile version of your website – and it needs to load quickly! In fact, according to Google, if your site doesn’t load in 3 seconds or less, you’ll lose 53% of your visitors.
Amazon’s calculated that a page load slowdown of just one second could cost it $1.6 billion in sales each year.” – Fast Company
If your site is not built around responsive design, you are waaaaay behind. Responsive design allows your site to scale to any screen size. So, from desktop to smartphone, your site renders to scale and looks great. Having a responsive design allows your site to be viewed on any size screen.
It can be expensive to update your site to a responsive design. There are a number of platforms that offer responsive design as a ‘built-in’ feature. WordPress, for example, has themes that are cutting-edge in terms of design and responsiveness. If you’re working within a budget, check out Webpage FX and use their website cost calculator if you want to start from scratch.
There are a number of tools to see how your site will render on different devices. We like Responsinator. Just enter your URL to see how your site looks on various devices.
6. Accelerated Mobile Pages
Google is thinking “mobile first” and they want your web pages to load quickly on mobile devices. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is a project that was created by Google and Twitter to make really fast mobile pages. At the most basic level, AMP pages are just stripped-down HTML.
Rudy Galfi, Google’s AMP product manager, said at a recent marketing conference that the median load time for AMP-coded content is 0.7 seconds, according to SearchEngineLand. In comparison, the median load time for non-AMP pages is 22 seconds, or “the time it takes for you to leave the site and never come back.”
AMP pages are built with 3 core components:
- AMP HTML: HTML code with some restrictions for reliable performance.
- AMP JS: This library ensures the fast rendering of AMP HTML pages.
- AMP Cache: The Google AMP Cache can be used to serve cached AMP HTML pages.
Here’s a signal that Google is really serious about the future of AMP: it’s getting its own diagnostic page in Google Search Console (currently in Beta)! For more information, check out SearchEngineRoundtable to see other features currently being rolled out. See below for a screenshot:
7. Basic SEO Best Practices
Web development companies are generally really good at designing websites. But, they typically suck at SEO. It’s not something they think about in their development plans. We are always amazed at how much is left out of a redesign or new build on a site. Basic SEO fundamentals are not as important as they once were for ranking purposes, but they can still give you incrementally better results.
Basic Meta Tags You Should Be Using
- Title tag: This is the title of your article/page. It is the title that shows on a search engine ranking page (SERP).
- Meta Description: This description can mean the difference between a user clicking on your listing or a competitor. Write a compelling description that supports your title and includes a call to action that entices a click-through.
- H1 tag: This is also known as a header tag. You should only have one H1 tag per page, but can use multiple H2s, H3s, H4s, etc. This tagging structure helps Google clearly identify what your page is about.
Make sure to name your images with keywords associated with your content. Don’t use the name from your camera. It’s a way to associate the image with the content that surrounds it. Also, include an ‘alt’ tag to further describe the image and assist search engines when crawling the page.
This is a big differentiator when it comes to organic search. Many prospects come to us because they’re frustrated that their content marketing efforts haven’t produced the results they expected. We call it, “The Emotional Journey of Content Marketing”. It’s something that everyone who has ever attempted content marketing experiences. The length of time you’re in the ‘trough of despair’ has a lot to do with the kind of content you’re creating.
You’ve got to write headlines and content that users are actively searching for. Many companies are using clever headlines that are more appropriate to magazine and newspapers, rather than what their audience is searching for. We’ve done a number of experiments where we’ve changed these types of headlines to actual searches and the results are dramatic.
For example, we took a blog post about the cost of content marketing. We changed the title and converted all the subheads to questions. This resulted in our post ranking number 1 organically for the title and 4 of the 6 subheads ranking on the first page of Google results.
Check for yourself. Google these questions:
5 Types of Content to Focus On
The bottom line is everyone needs to know the cost of a product or service before they buy. How many times have you been in a brick and mortar store looking to buy something and before you do, you look the price up on Amazon. Include the cost of your products and services and be as transparent as possible. In some cases, you can’t state the price of a service because there are too many variables. In this case, ask the question about how much the service costs and include all the variables in a form of content. This will educate your potential customer and they’ll know what to expect when they see your quote.
Most of us are lazy and want someone else to do the research on the best or top companies/products. Don’t be afraid to write about your competition in your article. You know your potential customers are going to be considering them anyway, so why not include them in your article? The good news is, if they are reading your article, they’re on your site and not your competitors. Be sure to include calls-to-action in the article to move them through your sales funnel.
We all want to make sure what we are buying compares well against other products or services. We naturally do comparison searches:
- Jeep vs Toyota
- Bolste vs Slack
- Deep dish vs thin pizza
- Samsung vs LG
Write comparisons on your competition. Again, they’re already on your site reading about the competition; you’ve got a good chance of converting them.
Compile resources around your product or services. It makes it very easy for the user to learn more about you and other associated information that will help them make a decision.
Typically, your audience is trying to solve a problem. By providing solutions, you are helping them along with their decision. Answering their questions puts your brand out in front as a solution. As Marcus Sheridan says, “They Ask, You Answer”.
Many companies get stuck on what to write about. The types of content above will give you some good ideas to get started. For more information check out our list of great tools to help with content ideation.
As you’re planning your website redesign or build, remember to focus not only on the design, but the other factors factors listed above. If implemented, they will give your site a strong foundation and a good chance at ranking in organic search. They will also make your site more user-friendly which will improve your engagement and conversions.
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