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Five Website Design Errors that will Destroy Your Rankings

It's natural for business owners to trust the web designer to do a good job... and visually all may appear fine, but, what you paid for is not always what you get. Hidden mistakes can cost you thousands of dollars in lost traffic, sales and revenue.

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It’s natural for business owners to trust the web designer to do a good job… and visually all may appear fine, but, what you paid for is not always what you get. Hidden mistakes can cost you thousands of dollars in lost traffic, sales and revenue.

Here’s the top five mistakes and how to avoid them.

1. Design first, worry about SEO later.

We often hear this from clients… their main focus is to get their website designed and launched. But, the absolute best time to worry about optimization is before the design is even started. Why? Because optimization tasks (like keyword research) can have a significant impact on the best methods to use in site structure, navigation and more importantly – the actual content that appears on the site.

Changing these elements after the design is costly. At the very least; ask your designer to include a search specialist for consulting before design – it can save you a bundle in lost traffic, conversions and profit for a long time to come.

2. Too much load time – too many images

This is something we encounter often when we are asked to re-design an older site. It’s likely the site has been unsuccessful because with so much usage of flash or images – search engines can’t even see the content. Many times; the previous designer has used images for navigation (with no alternative for search engines) and the business owner doesn’t even notice or care. Because it looks better than web fonts, everyone thinks its fine. Make sure your web designer can style and use text, especially for links… it will display better across more devices and search engines will easily follow text links.

3. Same title – every page

There must be millions of sites out there with this problem. The web designer creates the first page; inputs the title and then duplicates the page to build all other pages. Or, they use a content management system that does the same thing. The title is not visible on the page so the proofreader or client may never notice (the title appears in the source code and at the top of your browser window when you view or bookmark a page). The title also frequently appears as the link to your site on search engine results. And, the content of your title is one of the most important factors used by search engines to rank your site. Each page in your site should have a unique title that describes the page content. Of course; it could be argued that the designer is not an SEO specialist and, that may be true but – read the number 1 mistake.

4. My new site is beautiful, but where did my rankings go?

Here’s the situation: A business owner has a website with about 75 pages and he wants a re-design. The site is older and well-established – there are a great number of existing rankings for important keywords. In some cases there may be thousands of rankings. The designer creates a beautiful new site and in the process; he re-names most of the page URL’s. Nobody really notices until the site is launched and all of a sudden the site’s visibility in the search engines immediately disappears. This is a very common problem especially when moving from a static site to a CMS. If your site was built by one designer using ASP and the new designer decides to use PHP; file names will change and hence your URLs will change.

Sometimes it’s just a matter of organizing the files during development. You may have a page URL like this: http://www.mydomain.com/services/repair.html but after a redesign; the page URL changes to: http://www.mydomain.com/service/repair.html – just this one simple change and like magic your rankings disappear.

I’ve had designers tell me "Oh, but the rankings will come back". That may be true to some extent – but not always. First the search engines have to find the new page, re-index the page and then re-evaluate the page content. Why gamble? Just make sure the file names STAY the SAME or make sure your webmaster uses SEO friendly redirects!

5. Yes, you have to actually use keywords if you want to rank for keywords.

No car dealer wants to say "used cars for sale" – they would much prefer "pre-owned vehicles". But, when was the last time you searched for a "pre-owned vehicle"? This problem is prevalent with many websites (not the designer’s fault) – and even though it seems like a simple concept; if you want to rank for a particular keyword – you have to actually use it in your content. Search engines have evolved and they are fairly good at determining these common synonyms but definitely not all.

Contact us for a quote on your web design or re-design project.

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