Obviously a website is incredibly useful for businesses wanting to expand beyond their local market or looking to build a web presence. It can help drive traffic, attract attention and increase profits. Perhaps slightly less well known is that a well-maintained website will make a world of difference.
From a user perspective we’ve all been in the situation where we are performing a Google search, think we’ve found a quality site, and then click on it to realize it’s antiquated—and internet dinosaur—and in our haste we accidentally close multiple windows as we scramble to leave the site.
Although this is definitely a problem, it’s absolutely not the end of the world, and even if you’re site isn’t comparable to a dinosaur, a one-and-done approach to web design can be dangerous for future business.
Salvaging poor web design
Before leaping into web design revision, pump the breaks and begin with thorough planning.
-Begin with realistic expectations. Re-design is not a quick fix solution and you won’t see an instant increase in traffic or revenue.
-Similarly, realize your keyword ranking won’t see a tremendous initial flux either.
-Prepare for possible negative side effects to your overall site optimization
-Plan for on-going SEO and not just a temporary strategy during or around the time of web redesign
Start by determining your sites current rank and which pages are the higher ranking pages, especially deep pages that have been indexed.
Next create a roadmap for your sites re-organization and have clear goals in mind. Make a list of what pages are ranking, which URL’s will change in the re-design, which pages will need a 301 redirect and how you would like to restructure content and the formatting of your site—and how that will impact the keyword density on the pages currently on your site.
Plan for re-directs and error pages
Google doesn’t like sites with a lot of dead pages, so don’t let your site become a graveyard for 401’s. You’ll want to make a comprehensive list of which pages will need 301 re-directs and assemble a plan for them.
301’s are important for your site because without them you will fall in rankings and instead of a temporary drop, like you may see shortly after re-design it would be more permanent. The reason for this is, consider the list you made of pages that are ranking—especially the high ranking ones currently on your site—if those become 404 error pages you will essentially lose all the link juice you’d built up from other quality sites linking to that page. Not only that, but people searching for the page will essentially hit a dead wall. It’s like changing your cell phone number and not giving your friends and family the new number.
If you do plan for 301 re-directs and your site still drops in the rankings don’t panic. Google spiders don’t crawl new pages indexing them instantly. It could take a few weeks for them to be analyzed and for old content to be de-indexed.
Consider regular upkeep
Instead of doing a massive re-design every few years, consider making a plan for regular design upkeep. Overall site design can be an integral element to your company’s success, just as updated and quality content is.
To have successful site re-design it’s in your best interest to consult with and SEO firm or have them work with your web designers. It could be extremely detrimental to your overall success if your site designer isn’t concerned with SEO during the design process or plans to worry about it after the site re-launch.
SEO, like design upkeep should be an ongoing process and if your SEO or design (or both) become stagnant your overall brand will suffer when your audience become disengaged and site traffic and revenues drop.