Here’s the top five mistakes and tips for new websites 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 design, site structure, navigation and more importantly – how the content is written. Changing these elements after the design is problematic and costly. At the very least; ask your designer to include a search specialist for consulting before design – it can save you in lost traffic, conversions and profit for a long time to come.
2. Too flashy – too many images
This is something we encounter often when we are asked to re-design a site. It’s likely the site has been unsuccessful because with so much usage of graphical elements or images – search engines can’t even see the content. Most of the time; the previous designer has used images for navigation with no alternative for search engines. It is also common that the business owner doesn’t notice because the elements are designed to look like text. Tips for New Websites – design for performance.
3. Same title – every page?
There must be millions of sites out there with this problem. The web designer creates the first page; chooses a title and then duplicates the title to all other pages. The title is not visible on the page so the proofreader or client may never notice (the title does appear in the HTML file 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 arguably the most important on-page factor in search engine optimization. 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. 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 dissapears. This is a very common problem. 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 will 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, if changing the names can’t be avoided, use a seo-friendly 301 redirect instead.
5. Yes, you have to actually use words.
This problem is prevalent with many businesses (not the designer) – and even though it seems like a simple concept; if you want to rank for a particular keyword – you might want to actually use it on your page. Google and other search engines have become very good at inferring the topic of websites; but I see so many businesses take the gamble. Tips for New Websites – if you want to rank; use those search terms in your content.
More than just using keywords; I’ve also seen many business owners decide that providing too much content on a page is not today’s style. People don’t read, they simply skim. You can’t argue with that statement.
Where this theory goes horribly wrong is that instead of expending the effort to provide compelling content, the business decides to just go with short descriptions, large icons, eye-catching buttons and hope for the best. Like so many other things – quality matters over quantity. If visitors don’t see the information they seek; they will be off and onto another site quickly.
Depending on what type of website you have, there are ways to dish out large amounts of content without sacrificing your design style. For example; you develop a short compelling paragraph about your topic and you link it to an internal page or modal popup that gives an interested visitor the full effect. This method serves your design purpose well but also supports your SEO efforts as search engines see more in-depth content about your topics.