SEO and New Site Designs: A Perfect Match

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  • 10/19/2016
    Remember when you couldn’t scroll through your timeline on any social media channel without being bombarded with videos of people pouring buckets of ice water on their heads? Celebrities, athletes, friends, and family members across the country were posting videos nominating each other and one upping one another like we’d never seen before. This is one of the biggest ripple effects in real-time that we’ve ever seen. One individual would nominate three friends and then those three friends would in turn nominate three more friends each. If they didn’t want to pour a bucket of ice on their head, they were challenged to donate to the ALS foundation. Because of this, the ALS foundation received an incredible amount of organic visibility and awareness on top of a huge increase in monetary donations to their organization.
     
    We can see how something as simple as a thirty-second video can impact a national organization heavily as people are still talking about the movement today. Now imagine that same national organization deciding, because they have a bit more cash this year, that they are long overdue for a website redesign. They go through the whole process of redesigning the aesthetic look and feel of their site and launch a new site several months later. What happens? Their rankings tank, their visibility is hardly there, and suddenly their donations are decreasing. Exact same ripple effect, just in a different direction. So what went wrong? In all the talks of design mock-ups, prototypes, navigation and much more, no one ever mentioned Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Some people may think, “Oh we can just do that part later,” but SEO is the ripple effect that just keeps on going.
     
    Some elements that should follow SEO best practices when developing a new site include the sitemap, URL structure, image optimization, 301 redirects, Metadata, and content structure. Below are some examples of the “ripple effect” these items have if not adequately addressed.
    • Sitemap and Navigation: These affect not only how users find information on your site, but also how search engines crawl your site. If it cannot be crawled in the most efficient way from the top-down, pages will not be properly indexed, nor show up in search results or receive much traffic. This can result in a myriad of things such as lower sales and decreased revenue.
    • URL Structure: Affects a user’s impression of the page and needs to be memorable, but short or concise. If URLs are a bunch of gobbledygook, they won’t tell the user or the search engine what the page is about and will inevitably decrease traffic.
    • Image Optimization: Affects page speed, user experience and may deter someone from staying on your website. Again, this results in less traffic, less visibility and less of a chance for the site to grow.
    • 301 Redirects: This is a biggie. When improperly done (or not done at all), rankings can drop off completely because search engines don’t understand that your old site is now a new site. As we’ve learned, it takes time to build up good SEO, so imagine starting from scratch again. Scary, we know.
    • Metadata and Content Structure: Metadata (titles and descriptions) should reflect what’s in your content structure. Imagine writing a book, publishing it, and selling it in every bookstore and then realizing you didn’t separate the content into chapters and forgot a protagonist’s main plotline. Yeah, that’s what it’s like if you don’t consider SEO when developing Metadata or content structure. (Don’t do it!)
    Moral of the story: Don’t let your website become the source of a bad SEO ripple effect on your business. To avoid that tragic saga, consider these elements before you launch. It will save a lot of headaches, a lot of money, and a lot of time. Who knows? With all that time, you might create the next thirty-second video craze.
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