It is an all too common tragedy, a website is designed and deployed and search traffic tanks. Once search traffic drops, frustrated marketers have to spend untold amounts of time grudgingly auditing and trying to recover old traffic, amid revenue losses from their most efficient traffic source. Here are some tips for planning and collaborating your way to a successful SEO redesign.
1) Do a full review of the existing site
A serious website redesign is a great opportunity make sure all those technical SEO flaws that you were aware of but could not get fixed for what ever reason get addressed. As such, do a complete audit of the existing website as you go into your redesign. Dig deep and make sure to grab lots of benchmark data for later comparison.
2) Be part of the team
Depending on the size of the organization you’re a part of, you work more or less closely with the developers who are doing all the heavy lifting to make the redesign happen. Be part of the team early on.
Create a scope document that creates a strong business case for SEO, to show other stakeholders, who may not be very familiar with what you do, why SEO should not be an after thought in the development process.
Also, attend all strategic and tactical meetings for the project. This is a great opportunity to build a relationship with other members of the team and establish yourself as a stakeholder. Even beyond the initial meetings, stay in the loop on project progress and make yourself available for any questions designers or developers have.
3) Create a crystal clear requirements document for developers
Make sure that your requirements documentation for developers is very clear and exhaustive. nuff said.
4) Read ALL the documentation
If you’re moving to a new CMS, make sure that the stakeholders making the decision have a clear requirements document from you about what will be needed SEOwise.
Once the CMS is chosen, read ALL the documentation you can possibility get your hands on about the CMS. Reading will also help you foresee potential issues beforehand and help you address them with developers before the site is deployed. ..Yes, reading reams of boring documentation will be lame but it will be SO worth it.
Make sure to partner closely with designers during the mock up creation process and ask lots of questions. Carefully review on page optimization and brainstorm together on solutions. Designers are great at what they do and will likely have lots of great ideas on how to blend good UX with great optimization.
6) Audit extensively during QA phase
When it comes to redesigning an established site, there are literally hundreds of things to evaluate and compare with the existing website.
If you did your homework during the requirements gathering and design portion of your project, the final QA of the website ought to be smooth sailing but that is not always a case and it can cost you big.
Conduct a full deep audit of the site, while it is still in staging. Seriously, don’t skimp here!
7) Have someone else look at the site
Even when you’re in house and you know your site incredibly well, having a second pair of eyes on your site is indispensable. Having another SEO look at the site can identify show stoppers that may have otherwise been missed. At worst, the extra review will give you peace of mind that your redesign will go smoothly.
8) Be there when the site goes live
I promise, it’s worth it
9) Watch progress
Gather a list of metrics to monitor post launch carefully watch progress.
Visualizing the Whole Redesign Process
Here is a quick visualization of each step of the redesign project and how you can add your expertise at each stage.
Note: Visualization is appearing as a thumbnail, click to enlarge.
This section covers some additional resources that may be useful as you undertake your redesign journey. There is some good stuff here about important potholes to watch for as well as other considerations for redesigns not covered above.
- In-House SEO and Website Migration (Weekend Warrior) by Pete Prestipino at @WebsiteMagazine
- SEO & Website Redesign: Relaunching Without Losing Sleep by Josh McCoy @JoshuaCMcCoy
- How To Avoid SEO Disaster During a Website Redesign – Top Marketer Concerns by Glenn Gabe @glenngabe
- Choosing the Right CMS Platform for Your Website (from an SEO perspective) by Rand Fishkin @randfish
Post image: sps