3 fundamentals for optimizing content on your new website
You’re ready to upgrade your tired old website to a sleek new design that will tell your brand story beautifully. Make sure that before you do, you have an SEO strategy in place to protect the search equity you have worked hard to build over time.
Why does SEO matter?
SEO, aka Search Engine Optimization, is the process of getting organic traffic from search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo. The search results are compiled based on what the search engine’s algorithm considers most relevant to the user’s search query. Getting to the coveted front page of search engine queries cannot be bought—which explains the importance of SEO.
Quick tips to give your website a boost in search engine results includes developing high-quality fresh content optimized with relevant keywords. Thinking about just listing a bunch of keywords that users might type in? Don’t try it. This practice is called “keyword stuffing” and will negatively impact your site’s ranking.
We recommend doing a complete SEO analysis when going through a website redesign, but here are three fundamental elements to keep an eye on.
1. Properly prep your website redesign
Start by removing your dev/staging site crawler access by either password protecting or 'noindex' tagging your site. This will make sure that Google doesn’t crawl content from your test site before its ready. If this happens and you launch your new site, the content will be considered duplicate and have no value.
2. Crawl your current and new (test) sites
Crawl your existing site and pull your website structure, meta data and URLs to keep track of what’s changing. This will provide you a roadmap to how your new website will match up. When your test site is ready, crawl it so you can compare the similarities and differences of your new and old sites.
Identify site pages with updated URLs that need to be rerouted with a permanent 301 redirect. Make sure that every page is synced up with a new, live page with similar content to preserve relevancy and value to the user.
3. Conduct a website audit
Put your old website through an audit to find out what search engines like and don’t like about your website. This will help you identify what content to keep and problem areas. There are several free tools that can help you get started, but spend time to go through the process yourself. Examples of what to look for:
- Missing page titles and meta descriptions
- A primary keyword in your H1 tag, a HTML tag that is used to mark the importance of heading text on a webpage
- Image files names and alt text that are optimized with a primary keyword related to the page
- Unique and optimized title tags that are 55-60 characters
- Meta descriptions for each page
- Easy-to-read content formatting and H tags, which are used to define HTML headings
Here are five website checker tools for your SEO audit:
- Fetch as Google (Cost: Free) – Allows you to see a particular URL as Google sees it. This can help you identify areas of lackluster SEO performance. You’re limited to 500 fetches per week.
- Page Speed Insights (Cost: Free) – Measures the speed performance of both the desktop and mobile versions of your site. Page speed is increasingly important as mobile search queries begin surpassing desktop searches.
- Check My Links (Cost: Free) – This extension quickly checks internal and external links to make sure they actually work. Good links are highlighted in green and broken ones are highlighted in red.
- Screaming Frog (Cost: Free LITE version) – This program crawls websites that you specify and simplifies the process of identifying SEO issues. Reports can be exported into Excel.
- SEO Tool (Cost: Free) – Enter your URL and get an analysis broken down by three main parts: technical issues, content issues and external link analysis.
Redesigning and migrating your website is a big undertaking requiring you to keep an eye on many moving pieces, but it is essential in maintaining and cultivating your brand’s digital presence. When user trends guide your content optimization–and you take the right steps to preserve your search equity--you’re sure to win.