Every website needs a little refresh now and then. If you need to make adjustments to your website, be cognizant of the way that these changes can impact your search engine rankings. SEO is an intricate and ever-changing science, any modifications made to your website could potentially impact your standing in the search rankings – positively or negatively.
Web Design Changes and SEO
SEO should not be considered an afterthought when you’re rebuilding your website. On the contrary, it should be in the front of everyone’s minds from the start. Start the process with fresh SEO research and while you’re at it, do some competitor reconnaissance. Plan the site’s new structure with SEO in mind. This means creating a user-friendly structure that makes sense and is easy to navigate. Same goes with page names and URL’s. When it comes to the copy for your new site, you might be tempted to recycle the same keywords you were using before. Don’t make this mistake. Start anew with your keyword research. Sure, many keywords will likely be the same, but you don’t want to miss out on any new words that can help you climb the rankings. In general, cosmetic changes have little to no effect on SEO. You won’t see much impact from updating your logo throughout the site, fixing some typos, or making other small updates. However, more extensive changes will affect your SEO. With a site rebuild, you can almost certainly expect to lose most, if not all, the SEO benefits you had originally.
On-Site Changes That Can Impact SEO
Prior to making adjustments to your website, think over your strategy thoroughly. Look over your current website and take note of what needs to be updated or where there is room to add additional content. It may not seem like these small changes would have any impact on your search engine rankings, but many of them actually can have a powerful impact on your search engine rankings.
Adding New Content: The process of creating and adding additional content to your website should, in theory, enhance your search rankings. If done correctly, adding content should create more reasons for other sites to link back to yours and provide additional chances for new internal links. Radical changes to your site like adding a new classification method could potentially have serious effects on the structure of your site. Other features like blogs or forums will also affect the architecture of the site. The site architecture is what search engines use to look for clues to indicate what pages are most important, so it is imperative to ensure that any changes made to the site be done carefully and correctly. It is crucial to be cautious with the kind of content added to your website. Advertising being added to your site is not necessarily the kind of content you want. Ads can potentially bring an array of ramifications like increasing the number of outbound links, which is an undesirable for SEO. Having ads on your website can have damaging effects like slowing down the page speed. Page speed plays a large role in SEO and will be discussed later in this article.
Changing the Domain: Prior to getting started, it would benefit you to partake in an incoming link audit on your website. Search engines count links from other websites as recommendations so it is crucial to ensure that links to your old domain will start going to your new domain once it is changed. Thankfully, you will not have to individually contact each and every website owner to ask them to start using the new domain. There is the 301 redirects on the web server that should do that for you. If possible, try and maintain a similar URL structure to what you had originally. This will help to make that transition go smoothly. Once your new domain does go live, let the search engine know that your site has relocated. For example, with Google you can use the Google Webmaster Tools to help you keep your domain and URL listings updated. Make a point to document the change and when it happens so that you are able to combat any significant impacts to your SEO.
Modifying the URL: Making any adjustments to the structure of your URL can greatly affect your search rankings. Modifying the URL structure could hinder your ability to do certain redirects so you may have to end up having to redirect each individual page. This can prove to be quite time-consuming, leaving very little room for error. Following a restructure, it can be expected to have a temporary drop in rankings because it takes time for the 302 redirect to go into effect. If possible, try your best to avoid doing this. URL structure is one of the most essential factors relating to how website structure affects SEO. The best URL structures are content-rich and easy to read by a user and a search engine.
Important Elements That Affect SEO
Page Speed can Make or Break Your SEO: The amount of time that it takes for a webpage to load is known as page speed. The phrase “Fully Loaded Page” refers to how much time it takes for all of the resources on the webpage to load. There are several factors that go into determining a pages loading speed. Some of these factors include the website’s server, the page file size, and the image compression. To have your websites loading speed under three seconds would be considered to be good in terms of SEO. Search engines like Google reward fast sites over slow sites, so having a quick loading speed could put you above your competition. While working on your optimization efforts, be sure to keep in mind the mobile page speed as well. Since 2010, Google has used page speed as a ranking factor. The visibility of your website is directly affected by the page loading speed. If your site is slow, it will not get much traffic with page speed being a key ranking factor. Some best practices to help keep page speeds fast could be to compress images, clean and compress code, upgrade hosting, activate browser caching, implement a content delivery network, and test with multiple page speed testing tools.
Use Meta Tags to Improve Optimization: Meta tags are fragments of code that inform search engines of valuable information about your webpage. For example, the code may tell web browsers how they should display search results to visitors. According to Google, “A meta description tag should generally inform and interest users with a short, relevant summary of what a particular page is about. They are like a pitch that convinces the user that the page is exactly what they’re looking for.” However, meta descriptions are not a direct ranking factor. Search engines do not use the description meta tag in their ranking, even though search engines sometimes use them for the snippets they show. The meta tags are part of the HTML tags that give a description of the content on your webpage for both search engines and website visitors. By using (Ctrl+U), anyone can check the meta tags in the page’s code. Meta tags can be improved to emphasize the most valuable aspects of your content and make your website stand out in search results. Search engines progressively value a good user experience, and that includes making sure that your site fulfills a user’s request as best as it possibly can. Meta tags help with this by making sure that the information searchers need to know about your site is displayed upfront in a concise and practical fashion.
Navigating the complex world of search engine optimization can be tricky. If you are starting a new website or looking to make large scale adjustments to your site, finding an SEO specialist participating from the start would be in your best interest to make sure that everything that you do is search engine friendly. Keep in mind that it is a program that is making all of these decisions, ultimately getting the last say as to whether the adjustments made are optimized.