SEO & Website Redesign

Approach to SEO for Redesign Projects

 
We have incorporated the essential search engine optimisation considerations into our website design best practice process.
 
This allows us to work with our clients to produce beautifully designed websites with an effective and well managed process; websites that work and meet their objectives and measures of success, delivering an effective return on investment for our clients.

 

If you are considering upgrading your website, changing technology platforms or just giving it a face-lift then talk to us about the process you are planning and how to avoid the SEO pitfalls in the website redesign process. 

 

Understand Your Current Site First

 

This is our first rule; and our first task when taking on a client website re-design project.
 
This starts with a kick-off meeting or conference call where we talk though all aspects of your current site and what you like and dislike, what your customers and visitors like and dislike and how your site is performing.  We also ensure we elicit the commercial rationale for a new website design or build and understand your objectives for the project.
 
We then take you through a couple of short questionnaires to ensure we fully understand your brief.  We also look at any user research or usability studies you may have done; and take an in-depth look at your website's performance and analytics data from a technical and marketing perspective.
 
Through building up a thorough analysis of where your site is now, we can work together to build you a new web site that meets all of your commercial objectives.
 
These are just some of the factors we take into account before we even start writing code for your replacement website:
 

Website Analytics

 

We look at your analytics package to understand user behaviour and where your website traffic is coming from. If you do not have a current analytics package installed we will even work with you to install one so that we can get a detailed insight into your current website. Just 30 days data will prove to be invaluable for the process that follows.
 
We look at the sources of traffic to your site; direct traffic, click-throughs from search engines, other referring websites, directories, social media sites and online marketing campaigns. This gives us valuable information to help you develop a blueprint that will ensure your redeveloped website is more successful than your current site.
 
It also gives you specific measurable benchmarking data to measure our performance and the success of  the new website we'll build for you.
 

Search Engine Crawlability

 
We look at how effectively your current site is being crawled by search engines.

If you use a Content Management System (CMS) or have a multi-faceted navigation structure on your e-commerce pages on your site then we may find that search engines are struggling to crawl your pages properly and are filling up your 'crawl equity' (i.e. the amount of time they will spend on your site) on your less important pages and either not indexing all the important pages or creating lots of duplicate pages. If your CMS spits out long URLs with query parameters and session ids then it is quite likely that you have some of these problems.

 

Site Structure and Page Structure

 

We look at current naming conventions of pages and determine how SEO friendly the URLs are. We will look for broken links, error pages (404 pages which we will later customise), check W3C Validation, look at your robots.txt file and htaccess files, run server and domain checks and performance tests to benchmark the speed of your current website and host.
 
This tells us if your URLs are worth keeping or re-writing for the new site.
 

Pages Indexed

 
We also build a picture up of all your indexed and non-indexed site pages and analyse your sitemap if you have one. We identify the strength of these pages in terms of ideal SEO structure (URLs, meta tags, content), traffic, conversions, bounce rate, time on page, backlinks, rank and ranking keywords and overall Page Rank.
 
We will also look at the data provided by the major search engines if you have signed up for their Webmaster Tools.
 
This allows to produce a complete list of your current pages and forms part of our migration plan to the new website.  Once we have designed the structure of the new site we can determine which old pages point to which new pages and properly redirect them, using a 301 redirect, to ensure that your new site properly inherits the 'page rank' of the previous site and your search engine rankings are protected.
 

Backlinks

 

We check backlinks to your site and how your site is indexed and cached in Google, Yahoo and MSN because we will learn about the most valuable and powerful pages in your site and how best to manage them when we move to a new site structure. We may also learn a great deal about which pages of content are not being indexed and identify duplicate site content and duplicate pages in search engine indexes.
 
You never know we may even increase your traffic on your current site whilst we are building your new website!
 

Keyword Research & Performance
 

We look at the keywords users are using to find your site.
 
We check how you rank for these keywords in the major search engines.
 
We check which keywords convert and which pages are ranking well.
 
We do some clever analysis of these two data sets to identify high potential keywords in terms of traffic, conversions, low bounce rates and time on site.
 
These keywords must be used in the crucial places in your new website (URLs, page titles, descriptions, headings tags, image attributes and page copy). They also help us develop themes and topics for your new site.
 
In addition to your on-site page optimisation these keywords must be a focus for your external online PR and link campaigns.
 

Competitive Analysis

 
We then undertake even more exhaustive keyword analysis to produce a definitive keyword list ranked by search volume and competition.
 
We go a step-further by then analysing the major search engines to see who competes for these keywords and we produce a list of competing sites.
 
We then assess the strength of your competitors (using a variety of factors – backlinks, anchor text, Google Page Rank, domain history, brand) and can also estimate the number of visitors they are getting for the same basket of keywords as you (if we have your analytics data). This gives us both a realistic view of how good your chances are of competing with them. It’s usually at this point that we have a grown-up discussion about budgets!
 
Once we are clear about where your current site stands, what you have done so far to promote it and how far it has got you, then we can look in more detail at the best process for re-building your website.
 

Website Re-design Process

 
This is where all our preliminary analysis comes in handy:
 
  • We now have a shared understanding of how your current site performs.
  • We both now know what you like and dislike about your current website.
  • We have real customer feedback on what your customers need, want and expect from your website and brand.
  • We have more than website statistics; we have a real insight into what is working.
  • We know the most powerful and search engine friendly URLs and key pages in your website.
  • We understand what is in the search engines indices and what is not.
  • We know what you are ranking for and getting traffic for and which keywords you want to rank for in the future.
  • And we know how to incorporate all the sound elements into the new site structure.
 
We can now conceive a plan for keeping the key elements intact in your re-designed website and or redirecting URLs correctly so they do not lose their link-juice.
 

We follow the following design process whether we are building a new website or re-building an existing website:

 

Website Design Process - New / Revised Site

 

  1. Project Definition
  2. Site Structure
  3. Visual Design
  4. Site Development
  5. Testing
  6. Launch Plus

 

Read more about our web design process.