Redeveloping your Website? Follow this SEO Checklist
Website technology and designs evolve constantly. What was a best practice a few years ago may be outdated today. This is why SEOs recommend redeveloping your website once every few years to keep up with evolving technology and customer expectations. Sure, it involves cost, but a redeveloped website can improve your traffic and conversion rates. On the flip side, if not done correctly, the process can negatively affect your rankings. A successful redevelopment project is one that achieves a delicate balance between avoiding common pitfalls and integrating elements geared to boost your website performance. Here is a website redevelopment checklist for SEO designed to safeguard your current traffic and attract more once the redevelopment is complete.
Website Redevelopment Checklist for SEO
1. List out your SEO goals
Based on your specific niche, you may have different SEO goals for your website. Are you planning to attract double the traffic to your website? Do you want to ensure more organic traffic and gradually cut down on paid traffic? Do you need to generate all your leads with your website?
Determining measurable, achievable and time-bound SEO goals helps you plan a realistic redevelopment strategy in sync with your overall marketing efforts.
2. Evaluate your existing website
Before commencing the redevelopment process, it would be a good idea to assess where your website stands in terms of performance. Factors to analyse include:
- Rankings for main keywords
- Bounce rates
- Volume of form submissions
- Time spent on site by users
- High-performance content
- Cart abandonment
- Low traffic pages
- Navigation ease or the lack of it
- Outdated content
- Conversion rate
- Domain authority
- Volume of backlinks
This information is a great starting point since you can easily figure out the good and not-so-good elements in your website and retain those elements that are working in your favour.
3. Preserve high-performing content
You may note a few website pages with considerable inbound links, views and shares. To avoid hurting your SEO during a redevelopment, you need to preserve these pages by implementing minimal changes.
4. Empower your current content
Optimising content is a key point in the website redevelopment checklist for SEO. Make sure that every page on the website features content integrating keywords relevant to your business. For this content strategy to be effective, you need to use keywords that your customers may be searching for.
For optimal results, choose one keyword for each page and use it in the title, opening paragraph, body, meta description, URL and image tags. Remember that content optimisation is not a one-time job but rather an ongoing process to keep your website working for your business.
5. Set URL redirects carefully
While redeveloping, you may want to delete some pages. If these pages have backlinks pointing to them, ensure that you redirect it to a page with similar content. Similarly, you may want to recategorise or update a page’s URL. Ensure that the old URL is redirected to the new one. If your site is a large one, you may want to create a URL map, with each old one marked correctly to the corresponding new ones.
6. Improve your website architecture
If your customers are unable to quickly find what they are looking for, chances are they will not be visiting a second time. Organise your website structure well to keep your existing visitors engaged and attract new ones. For instance, the home page can feature links to main categories, including About us, Services, Products, Testimonials, Contact us, News and so on, in addition to links to your blog. And each of these pages will connect to different content.
Neat website architecture also gives search bots a better idea of the connection between different pages and highlights the significance of specific pages.
7. Power up your page speed
Online visitors are likely to bounce off any website page that takes more than three seconds to load. Site speed is essential for superior user experience and good rankings. It is one of the major SEO ranking factors. So, optimising page speed must definitely be a part of your website redevelopment checklist for SEO. Implement techniques such as compressing files, adding a caching plugin, improving the content distribution network and revamping your code.
8. Update your XML sitemap
Once you are done with creating, deleting, and modifying pages, remember to update your sitemap. It is not an important ranking factor but having an XML sitemap helps search engines crawl and index your site faster. Ensure that the correct URLs and site architecture are mentioned.
9. Test, test, test
The final step in the website redevelopment checklist is testing the new site. Look at the site with a business owner’s eyes – does the new site meet the project charter? Now, look at it as a target buyer persona. Or better still, get somebody not involved with the development process to look through your new site.
Here are some things you must test
- Any broken external or internal links
- Issues with navigation
- Are all the forms working?
- Do the CTA’s match out to correct forms or landing pages?
- Does the payment gateway work properly?
- Is the site responsive against different screens?
- Fix any errors that you may find and retest the elements to ensure they are corrected
Website Redeveloping and SEO
You may see a temporary dip in your rankings with a redesign and redevelopment. But when done right, a website redevelopment can boost traffic and improve conversions. Even if your website was among the best at the time of its launch, you would have to implement major website redesigns years down the lane. And when you eventually get to it, make sure the redevelopment does a whole lot more than just avoiding SEO risks. With meticulously planned strategies, it is possible to utilise the redevelopment phase to boost your SEO results.
Use the website redevelopment checklist for SEO mentioned above to safely retain elements of your website that are working well and effectively optimise those that need an overhaul. If all these seem a bit too technical, there is always a better option – speak to us. The Computing Australia Group has been creating and redeveloping websites into lead generating tools for our customers. Contact us or email us at email@example.com to book a consultation meeting today.
XML Sitemap – A list of URLs in XML format that search engines can easily crawl and index.
Landing page – A web page created specifically for an ad or promotional campaign, or a page where the user will land after clicking on a result in the SERPs.
Backlinks – Also known as inbound links or incoming links. When one website content mentions another site and links to it, it is called a backlink.