Website Redesign Mistakes Destroying SEO
A website redesign can give your website a fresh, new look – and it can help you to convey the right image to your website’s visitors and clients. But there’s also a risk of making some fatal mistakes during the process and leaving your website worse off afterward than before you started. Here are some disastrous website redesign mistakes destroying SEO.
Website Redesign Mistakes Destroying SEO
“Click Here to Enter” Pages
Many pages have a “splash” or welcome page – but this can mean search engines end up on the splash page instead of the more important parts of the website where the content is. This is why you’ll notice that most websites have scrapped the old-school Welcome page with the “Click Here to Enter” script.
Pop-up ads can automatically mean that your site ends up on the lower end of the SEO ranking list – and search engines might scrap you from their results entirely if your website is drowning in annoying pop-up and banner ads.
Lack of Links
Search engines like to see internal linking – site links within one post that link to another part in your website; search engines also like to see back-links to other, higher-ranking sites. If your website lacks these links, that’s an automatic downgrade on the SEO scale – and fewer visitors to your website.
Social networking popularized the “endless scrolling” design – and while it works great for social networking, it doesn’t work as great for search engines that trawl for keywords. If you’re making use of this design, don’t! A “next” button can do a lot more – and it’s easier for search engine bots, too.
Frames, Frames, Frames
In the 90s and up until the early-2000s, websites were all about frames – but let’s not forget that’s what caused the end of MySpace. It was just too much. Let’s put it like this: Frames do nothing useful for your website, and they can mean that search engines are directed away from the useful parts of your site.
Arbitrarily changing image names on pages that rank well
This isn’t always an issue, but if a web page is ranking well, changing the name of an image on that page may cause a loss of ranking. Especially if the web designer doesn’t know what they’re doing.
We’ve seen this happen more than a few times, where a client hires a web designer who doesn’t understand SEO to redesign a website that already ranks well. As part of the redesign process, they replace old images with new, larger images, but, lacking the appropriate experience, they use stupid image names that provide zero SEO value, like image1.jpg.
This takes away a vital piece of context that search engines use to determine where a particular web page should rank.
Deleting pages or changing page URLs without redirecting them
During a redesign, some pages will almost certainly no longer be needed. Less experienced web designers will often simply delete them. Other pages may be moved and/or renamed, which in most cases, changes their URL. In these cases, inexperienced web designers often change these URLs and consider the task complete.
This is a big mistake because some of those pages may already rank well. They might have inbound links pointing to them or have been bookmarked by visitors.
When you delete pages that already have inbound links, you’ll lose all of the SEO value from those links. In some cases, this could result in a drastic loss of ranking.
The issue goes even deeper though. Anyone clicking those links or bookmarks will be greeted by a 404 page. That presents zero value to anyone, and more importantly, it creates a negative user experience. This is important because Google has confirmed that user experience is a ranking factor.
The proper way to delete pages is to redirect any of them to the most relevant page that currently exists. As for moving pages, which includes anything that changes the URL of that page in any way, it’s equally important to redirect the old URL to the new one.
In both scenarios, a 301 redirect should generally be used. This tells search engines that the old page has been permanently moved to the new location. For most hosting platforms, this is best accomplished by adding the appropriate entry into your .htaccess file.
If you’re unable to see a .htaccess file on your server, you may need to adjust the settings on your FTP program to view hidden files.
Some specialized hosting platforms may utilize a different method, so you may need to check with their support team to determine how to accomplish it.
Failing to perform a complete function check on everything
Once a redesigned website has been migrated to the live server, you need to do more than quickly review a few pages to make sure things look OK. Instead, it’s essential to physically test everything to make sure it not only looks right but also functions properly.
- Contact forms.
- E-commerce functionality.
- Search capabilities.
- Interactive tools.
- Multimedia players.
- Google Search Console / Bing Webmaster Tools verification.
- Tracking pixels.
- Dynamic ads.
Failing to reconfigure WordPress and plugins after migration to the live server
Remember how we talked about the importance of putting up a wall between your development environment and the search engines’ crawlers? Well, it’s even more important to tear that wall down after migrating the website to the live server.
Failing to do this is easy. It’s also devastating. In fact, it’s a mistake I made several years ago.
After migrating a client’s website to their live server, you forgot to uncheck the box in Yoast SEO that told search engines not to crawl or index it. Unfortunately, no one noticed for a few days, at which point, the website had been almost completely dropped from Google’s index. Fortunately, they didn’t rely on organic traffic, and, once you unchecked that box, the website was quickly reindexed.
Because of the impact mistakes like these can have, it’s critical that after migration to the live server, you immediately check the configuration of WordPress as well as any plugins that could affect how search engines treat your website.
This includes plugins for:
Neglecting to pay attention to detail
None of these mistakes are particularly complicated or difficult to avoid. You simply need to be aware of them, implement a plan to avoid them, and pay close attention to detail.
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