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Fact: SEO is the lifeblood of your online business. Without it, your online presence is dead.
Why? Search engine spiders only crawl and index sites that are easy for them to crawl. Besides they give preferential treatment to sites with longer value-rich content.
That’s why, even though keywords are vital in ranking your site, content is still king.
The search engine giant; Google also now prioritizes more on the online safety of web users. Because of this, it’s making it almost mandatory for webmasters to put in place necessary security measures like installation of SSL certificates on the sites to encrypt all the messages and data shared on the website.
While this is not a major ranking signal at the moment, it plays some role when it comes to site ranking. Your competitors are likely to rank higher than you if you don’t install a strong SSL certificate on your site.
So, how do you redesign your site to meet the needs of your audience and still stay within Google webmaster’s guidelines? That’s what we cover in this post.
After reading it, you’ll know the cheeky but costly SEO mistakes you should avoid so you can rank high on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Together, we’ll be taking the journey of a full stack web developer and the business owner into a complete website redesign.
SEO Mistake Number 1: Not Doing Keyword Research Before hand
Keywords play a critical role in the ranking of your site, but too much of it (overstuffing) can ‘kill’ your website. Studies show that Google blatantly flags websites that are stuffed with too much ‘useless’ keywords as spam.
To remain in the game of keywords, you must abide by the search engine giant’s guidelines when optimizing your web content with long-tail keywords and keyword phrases. Fortunately, enough, it’s very easy to achieve this.
According to Google, you only need to write web pages which describe your topics accurately in an easy to understand manner. To get this right, look up for the commonly searched words by your target audience then utilize them in the web content.
You should avoid keywords that do not naturally fit into the content. They may be considered spam when the search bots realize that the keywords add no value to the content. To avoid overstuffing keywords on your site, identify single keywords, and naturally use them 1 to 3 times in one piece.
Ideally, the keyword here should appear in the title, the H1 text (if it fits in) and the Meta description. If the primary keyword doesn’t naturally fit, feel free to use other general keywords on the site. You can easily find these keywords by studying your competitors, checking the industry trends, and studying persona behavior.
Collect a good list of keywords and organize them in an Excel spreadsheet. During the content development phase, use the keywords with the best value on each page to make it easy for the target audience to find you when they search for these terms online.
The keyword analysis here should be part of your front-end web design project.
SEO Mistake Number 2: Forgetting to Do Website Audit
It is horribly wrong to delete an old site before doing a complete page by page audit for the site. During the website audit, the focus should be on the features which are working and those which are not working or has a low ROI.
A quick checklist that you should use during the auditing phase should touch on aspects like:
- The average site visitors, including unique visits, etc.
- Your best ranking keywords lead generation, traffic, and ranking on SERPs.
- The total number of website pages which are indexed and
- The number of pages with the most organic traffic.
The goal of this audit is to increase each page’s purpose on the new website. It should not make you lose your current visitors too.
Therefore, when adopting the new layout, you shouldn’t remove or delete the relevant pages with excellent performance in terms of ranking and lead generation etc.
SEO Mistake Number 4: Poorly Setting or Forgetting to Set Up 301 Redirects When Switching from HTTP to HTTPS
The 301 redirects are permanent redirects from your former site. They apply when you’re restructuring your site’s URLs, changing domain names, and most importantly, when switching from HTTP to HTTPS.
You must set the 301 redirects to maintain the ‘SEO juice’ that comes from the URL you’re leaving. While installing SSL certificates like Comodo SSL certificates will boost your site security-wise and help you outrank competitors who don’t have the certificates, poorly set up redirects from the past HTTP site may make your site difficult to crawl and index hence a slump in the overall ranking.
Besides, if you don’t implement the redirects during website redesign, the old pages won’t be seen while the new pages will have no value. It’s therefore critical that you implement them correctly to preserve some of your SEO link juice from the old site.
After implementing the redirects, check to ensure that they’re working. There are lots of tools you can use for this purpose.
For instance, you can use Screaming Frog to assess the whole site. It will crawl each page instead of conventionally doing it for the entire website.
After the implementation, the tool will re-crawl the entire site again, ensuring all the redirects are fixed well and none is broken.
SEO Mistake Number 5: Paying Little Attention to SEO
During the website redesign, most webmasters put more focus on the beautiful features and themes that make the site glamorous and beautiful the human eye. That’s right, but you should also have search engine bots at the back of your mind as well.
You’ll rely on them when you want your audience to find you. Because of this, SEO must be part of the redesign project. If you have it in mind during the strategy phase, it will make it easy nailing down the SEO basics which run the gamut from site structure to website pages, and Meta descriptions, etc.
Before launching your newly designed site, don’t forget to check and confirm that it appears in search engine results pages. After the redesign is complete, search engine bots should be aware that your site is live and easily find it.
This is critical because, during the redesign phase, some of the robots.txt could have been set to block search engine spiders from crawling and indexing the site. Your site shouldn’t go live when the robots.txt are still on.
To avoid this, take some time to review your robots.txt files and ensure that they don’t block the bots from crawling and indexing the site. You may also use Google Webmaster’s Tools to review the website to ensure that it’s being indexed.
Website Redesign is not a simple task and forgetting about the fundamental SEO aspects can make it heartbreaking when you launch the site only to realize that you can’t find it on SERPs. Take your time, analyze your needs, and use this guide to ensure that you don’t make any SEO mistake.