Whenever you're redesigning your business's website, your primary objective is to attract visitors and motivate them to stay on your page. While ensuring that the homepage is eye-catching and aesthetically pleasing will help to establish credibility for your brand, this alone is not enough to help you meet your goals. After all, a flashy webpage won't impress customers if it doesn't work.
So what should you be focused on? Three little words: search engine optimization (SEO). If you want your website to shine and empower you to grow your business, you need to take the time to understand the value of SEO and how it works. By being aware of (and avoiding) some common SEO pitfalls, you can build a strong business website that will draw in the masses. Part one of this two-part series will highlight five of the top ten mistakes to steer clear of.
#1 Failing to Consider SEO from the Get-Go
Because SEO isn't the most glamorous thing in the world, it tends to fall low on the list of a web designer's priorities. This is a huge problem because SEO is absolutely necessary if you hope to attract a specific target audience and meet their unique needs. Building a website without a strong SEO foundation is like constructing a hotel and then never giving out its location. Without a "roadmap" and "direction", no one will ever find their way to your website. Use everything from your website's structure to meta tags and descriptions as a means of pointing traffic in your direction.
#2 Not Auditing Your Existing Site
For those who are performing an overhaul on an existing website, it can be tempting to bring in the wrecking ball and immediately demolish everything in sight. Before doing anything too hasty, though, we recommend that you conduct an audit of your site. Consider how much traffic you've been generating, which keywords have ranked well for you, which inbound links have attracted visitors, etc. This will ensure that pages which have historically been important to bringing in traffic will not be deleted, and will also provide your web developers with insights as to what will and won't work with your consumer audience.
#3 Ignoring Commonly Searched Keywords
Yes, it's true that Google has been cracking down on websites that overstuff their content with keywords and key phrases, but that doesn't mean that they're not still relevant. In fact, producing high-quality content will enable you to organically incorporate keywords into your web pages while meeting Google's standards. Think of the terms and words that your users are likely to be searching for and build useful content around those terms. Don't avoid keywords -- use them smarter!
#4 Failure to Set Up 301 Redirects
One of the biggest mistakes that web designers make during the redesign process is forgetting to establish 301 redirects. A 301 redirect offers a permanent redirect from an old URL to a new one. This is especially important when switching out your website's domain name or restructuring its URLs. Failing to set up these redirects can cause your web traffic to drop off as users come upon dated content or 404 (page error) messages.
#5 Lack of Consideration for URL Structure
Excessively long URLs or ones that don't actually have anything to do with your brand and its priorities could be hurting your website. Search engines tend to prefer sites that have URLs that make it easy to identify what the page's content is all about.
#6. Letting Undesirable Backlinks Bring You Down
If you think that all links leading back to your website are a good thing, guess again! Backlinks, which are inbound links from trusted websites, are a great thing because they can introduce new readers to your content and brand, but you should pay attention to who is creating links back to your page. If an untrusted or unreliable source creates links to your content, you could be in for trouble. When Google starts to suspect that spammy, low-quality links are coming back to you, they could consider you a source of spam, too. This is what is known as negative SEO (yes, there is such a thing!) As you set about the process of redesigning your website, take the time to investigate all of your backlinks and remove any that seem shady or negative.
#7. Failure to Implement Responsive Design
In this day and age, there's really no excuse to not implement a responsive web design, and Google agrees. Google definitely gives preferential treatment to websites that are optimized to respond to desktop and mobile users alike. After all, the majority of Americans are accessing the Internet via tablets, smart phones, wearables, and other mobile devices. With a responsive design in place, all of your website's URLs will be uniform across all devices, each serving the same HTML code. Unlike with business websites that rely on separate mobile configurations, responsive websites are much easier for Google web crawlers, thus improving the tech company's ability to retrieve your content and boost your rankings.
#8. Forgetting to Allow Search Engines to Crawl Your Site
As you redesign your website, you will likely opt to block web crawlers so that people aren't directed to a site that isn't complete or is under construction. Upon completing the site, you may be so excited to launch and show the world all of your hard work only to forget to actually share it with the world! Don't forget to double check that you've unblocked search engines from "crawling" you, and make sure that you're showing up in the top engine's search results.
#9. Failing to Add Analytics Tracking to Your Site
If you're redesigning your website, chances are that you're hoping to be more successful with the new content than you were with the old. How can you be sure that you're meeting these performance objectives and resonating with your audience, though, if you're not making use of analytics software? The moment that your website is made active, you need to have a means to start collecting data on how it's performing.
#10. Not Thinking Like a Person
Although it can be tempting to fill your content with words that might attract a search engine, this method just doesn't work. Engines like Google have learned to consider the context of entire sentences and questions within a query, and are looking for content that can respond to actual human beings! It's important to think along the lines of what is appealing to a person seeking useful help and answers when developing your content.
Ready to redesign your website and draw in the masses? Partner up with the professionals at Madison Taylor Marketing to start taking your brand to the next level today.