Redesigning a website provides a golden opportunity to improve search engine rankings, create a buzz, and bring new eyeballs to your site. Although, there are a lot of important SEO strategies that come into play for getting traction in the major search engines (I won’t get into it here), there are a few factors that are particularly crucial when you’re redesigning your site.
In the last several years, there have been a lot of changes in the SEO landscape and the playing field is becoming more and more level. Therefore, what might work today could prove ineffective tomorrow so don’t try to ‘game’ the system. Instead, spend your time and energy (and money) to focus on your target audience and provide them with: 1) a great user experience and 2) compelling value. If you’ve hired an online marketing company or search engine strategist that deviates from these two rudimentary principles, dump them immediately!
Moral of the story — build your redesign strategy around the user (instead of SEO) and good things will come…
1. Focus on creating excellent content
Content comes in many flavors (videos, articles, white papers, webinars, etc.) and is important for a variety of reasons. First, content provides an opportunity to provide real value to your audience and is important in attracting and, more importantly, retaining users. Second, the written content on your site is the single most critical factor for search engine spiders – this is what they feed on – and has direct impact on your search rankings.
So, during the website redesign process, spend time improving existing content and explore opportunities for developing new content that can complement the value proposition of your website.
2. Create a killer design using CSS/XHTML
Don’t overlook or undermine the importance of the actual design. Without getting to deep into the subject, design has far greater SEO value than you might think. Why? Because the web design/developer community have numbers in the social web space and can play to your advantage if you have a killer design. So a well designed, standards-compliant site is very likely to get the attention of the design/developer community and get socially bookmarked (del.ico.us, stumbleupon, etc.) and listed in CSS galleries. This can provide critical SEO juice for your site.
Also, a beautiful design in css/xhtml relates directly to the user experience: aesthetically (the interface design) and site performance (light weight code = faster navigation).
3. Make sure basic on-page SEO factors are in check
This should go without saying but often times sites are launched without consideration to basic SEO principles. If nothing else pay attention to the following: Page titles, Headings (H1, H2, H3), Meta Tag Descriptions, ALT tags for images.
4. Spread the news and issue a press release
When the site is ready to go, use the opportunity to create a buzz about the launch. First, spread the news within your own network of friends and colleagues – this can simply mean updating your social profiles (LinkedIn, Facebook etc), mentioning it in your email signature, and spreading the word the old fashion way. Second, reach out to bloggers and other authorities in your industry to share the news. If you’re lucky (or well connected) and can get mentions in the blogosphere, you win. Finally, issue a press release and make sure it gets submitted to the major online news wires. If you don’t have a PR agency than do it yourself with one of the big press distribution services (try prweb.com).
5. Continue creating compelling content
The first few weeks of a new website launch are critical in peaking the interest of new users and giving them a reason to come back. This is where content creation is key and will dictate the success of converting new visitors and growing traffic to the site. So make sure there is some type of content deployment strategy in place (new whitepaper, new blog post, new press item) as soon as you’ve launched.
A good exercise is to continually ask yourself: What is the value proposition for a user to visit the site? And then try to implement strategies and develop content that successfully answer this question.