How to create an SEO strategy for website redesign and migration

A new guide, Best Practices for Website Redesign & Migration, outlines detailed best practices for implementing search engine optimization (SEO) for a website redesign. 

It includes a list of comprehensive tips aimed at educating website owners about common redesign obstacles, website structure as it relates to SEO, preserving domain and URL equity, keyword research, and more.

This post summarizes some key SEO migration elements listed in the guide, with an emphasis on helping organizations avoid costly errors related to a website redesign and domain or platform migration.

Content produced in collaboration with Investis Digital.

Common SEO obstacles in website redesign and migration

A proliferation of web design platforms and tools have made it easier than ever for businesses to complete a website redesign in record time. 

However, many of these platforms aren’t fully compatible with older computers, slower connection speeds, and present obstacles for search engine spiders.

planning a website redesign for searchable content for search engines and SEO

 

The Investis Digital SEO guide lists twelve of the most common obstacles and includes tips for avoiding them. Here are a few examples:

Dynamic URLs that don’t include keywords

Dynamic URLs rely on variable parameters provided by the web server and are not easily indexed by search engines since they change based on user query input. A dynamic URL typically includes character strings versus keywords. Investis Digital recommends that dynamic URLs be rewritten to include relevant keywords.

Non-permanent redirects

Investis Digital recommends avoiding all redirects that aren’t permanent. That is, only permanent 301 server-side redirects should be incorporated into your website update. That means avoiding 302, JavaScript, and meta refresh redirects.

Page content

Since text is the backbone of how search engines determine keyword relevancy, the Investis Digital guide recommends that some relevant content be included on all pages. Ideally, at least one short paragraph of unique text should be present on each page. If this isn’t possible, then tier-one and tier-two pages should incorporate text-based, keyword-rich headers.

Three of the twelve obstacles listed in the Investis Digital SEO guide

 

Six key elements of an SEO-focused redesign

The Investis Digital guide lays out a comprehensive list of elements that companies should incorporate into their redesign strategy, from website structure to keyword research, and from to meta information to internal site linking. The guide acts as a blueprint for businesses so they can minimize the impact of the redesign on organic search engine rankings and traffic. Here is a brief summary of each element:

1. Website structure

Folder structure, web page file names, and keyword-rich content all play a role in an optimal website structure. “The decisions you make about the naming conventions of your folders and files, and the way in which you point to specific pages of your website, can have a huge impact on overall traffic and sales,” writes Investis Digital.

2. Keyword research

Keyword research should be the starting point of your website redesign so that you can incorporate relevant, high-volume keywords throughout the entire site structure. Investis Digital reviews important keyword guidelines such as how many different terms to target and what keyword research tools to use when gathering information.

3. Meta information

Meta information—also referred to as metadata—is the information that appears in search engine results pages for organic listings. SEO meta information includes a variety of tags such as <title> and <meta-description>. The guide provides checklists to help businesses fully optimize each of these important tags.

4. Body content

Body content is important for good search engine rankings as well as overall website usability. The Investis Digital guidelines cover the specifics of creating high quality, SEO-friendly content attributes that will contribute to search ranking such as keyword choice, frequency, placement, spacing, and titles.

5. Internal site linking

Internal links are an important element of good SEO design as they determine how search engines perceive relevancy for specific keywords. Investis Digital covers the best practices for internal link creation such as using descriptive text-based links in the main navigation, limiting the number of links on a page, and more.

6. URL equity

URL equity is “the sum of several important values tied to URL structure.” Dynamic versus static URLs, as noted above, play a role in URL equity as do a URL’s external links to the website, age of the domain, and more.

The importance of creating an SEO redesign strategy

A key pain point with any redesign is the loss of organic search traffic that occurs when established domain equity is lost. The Investis Digital guide provides information to help companies avoid the negative effect a large-scale redesign can have on search visibility and website traffic.

Example of a successful client domain migration. Source—Investis Digital

 

With a strong emphasis on maintaining URL equity, a sample workflow to help with planning, and a list of expected obstacles, businesses can use this guide to create a comprehensive SEO strategy for their website redesign or platform migration.

For more tips on how to create an SEO strategy for website redesign and migration, check out the full guide, “Best Practices for Website Redesign & Migration.”

The post How to create an SEO strategy for website redesign and migration appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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admin November 5, 2019 0 Comments

Why website security affects SEO rankings (and what you can do about it)

A few years ago I started a website and to my delight, the SEO efforts I was making to grow it were yielding results. However, one day I checked my rankings, and got the shock of my life. It had fallen, and badly.

I was doing my SEO right and I felt that was enough, but I didn’t know there was more. I hadn’t paid attention to my website security, and I didn’t even know that it mattered when it comes to Google and its ranking factors. Also, there were other security concerns I wasn’t paying attention to. As far as I was concerned back then, it didn’t matter since I had good content.

Obviously I was wrong, and I now know that if you really want to rank higher and increasing your site’s search traffic, then you need to understand that there is more to it than just building links and churning out more content. Understanding Google’s algorithm and it’s ranking factors are crucial.

Currently, Google has over 200 ranking factors they consider when they want to determine where to rank a site. And as expected, one of them is about how protected your site is. According to them, website security is a top priority, and they make a lot of investments all geared towards enduring that all their services, including Gmail and Google Drive, use top-notch security and other privacy tools by default all in a bid to make the internet a safer place generally. 

Unfortunately, I was uninformed about these factors until my rankings started dropping. Below are four things you can do to protect your site.

Four steps to get started on website security

1. Get security plug-ins installed

On average, a typical small business website gets attacked 44 times each day, and software “bots” attack these sites more than 150 million times every week. And this is for both WordPress sites and even for non-WordPress websites. 

Malware security breaches can lead to hackers stealing your data, data loss, or it could even make you lose access to your website. And in some cases, it can deface your website and that will not just spoil your brand reputation, it will also affect your SEO rankings.

To prevent that from happening, enhance your website security with WordPress plugins. These plugins will not just block off the brute force and malware attacks, they will harden WordPress security for your site, thus addressing the security vulnerabilities for each platform and countering all other hack attempts that could pose a threat to your website.

2. Use very strong passwords

As much as it is very tempting to use a password you can easily remember, don’t. Surprisingly, the most common password for most people is still 123456. You can’t afford to take such risks. 

Make the effort to generate a secure password. The rule is to mix up letters, numbers, and special characters, and to make it long. And this is not just for you. Ensure that all those who have access to your website are held to the same high standard that you hold yourself.

3. Ensure your website is constantly updated

As much as using a content management system (CMS) comes with a lot of benefits, it also has attendant risks attached. According to this Sucuri report, the presence of vulnerabilities in CMS’s extensible components is the highest cause of website infections. This is because the codes used in these tools are easily accessible owing to the fact that they are usually created as open-source software programs. That means hackers can access them too.

To protect your website, make sure your plugins, CMS, and apps are all updated regularly. 

4. Install an SSL certificate

installing an SSL certificate for website security SEO rankings

Image source

If you pay attention, you will notice that some URLs begin with “https://” while others start with “http://”. You may have likely noticed that when you needed to make an online payment. The big question is what does the “s” mean and where did it come from?

To explain it in very simple terms, that extra “s” is a way of showing that the connection you have with that website is encrypted and secure. That means that any data you input on that website is safe. That little “s” represents a technology known as SSL.

But why is website security important for SEO ranking?

Following Google’s Chrome update in 2017, sites that have “FORMS” but have no SSL certificate are marked as insecure. The SSL certificate, “Secure Sockets Layer” is the technology that encrypts the link between a browser and a web server, protects the site from hackers, and also makes sure that all the data that gets passed between a browser and a web server remains private.

why is website security important for SEO rankings, example with http vs https

Image source

A normal website comes with a locked key in the URL bar, but sites without SSL certificates, on the other hand, have the tag “Not Secure”. This applies to any website that has any form.

According to research carried out by Hubspot, 82% of those that responded to a consumer survey stated that they would leave a website that is not secure. And since Google chrome already holds about 67% out of the whole market share, that is a lot of traffic to lose.

research, how many users would consider browsing on a website that is not secure

Image source

Technically, the major benefit of having Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) instead of Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is that it gives users a more secure connection that they can use to share personal data with you. This adds an additional layer of security which becomes important especially if you are accepting any form of payment on your site.

To move from HTTP to HTTPS you have to get an SSL certificate (Secure Socket Layer certificate) installed on your website.

why does an SSL certificate work for website securityImage source 

Once you get your SSL certificate installed successfully on a web server and configured, Google Chrome will show a green light. It will then act as a padlock by providing a secure connection between the browser and the webserver. For you, what this means is that even if a hacker is able to intercept your data, it will be impossible for them to decrypt it.

Security may have a minor direct effect on your website ranking, but it affects your website in so many indirect ways. It may mean paying a little price, but in the end, the effort is worth it.

Segun Onibalusi is the Founder and CEO at SEO POW, an organic link building agency. He can be found on Twitter @iamsegun_oni.

The post Why website security affects SEO rankings (and what you can do about it) appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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admin October 31, 2019 0 Comments

How to fix the top most painful website UX mistakes [examples]

In today’s market of evolving website functionality, UX design has become more important than ever to businesses, globally. Here’s a roundup of top UX mistakes and how to fix them.

We want users to navigate our site freely, without obstacles and without friction. If your site makes finding information a challenge, you can bet your bottom dollar your competition already knows that, and is capitalizing on it.

Both UX and SEO are user-centric, which makes them a formidable pair when you get them right.

But get it wrong and you could see high bounce rates, low conversions and even a slight hit on your rankings as Google’s John Mu considers UX a ‘soft ranking factor’.

If you’re finding that users aren’t spending time on your site (or converting) there could be issues. We’re going to help you find out what they could be.

Cluttered navigation

Your site’s navigation is the gateway to your content and service pages. It’s where you (really) focus on building a funnel that is both frictionless and easy to understand.

Your navigation should be an architecture of well-structured, groups of pages; either commercial or informational (depending on your business).

example of cluttered navigation, bad for UX and SEO

Some of the most common mistakes we see are:

  • Links without value in the main menu
  • Excessive anchor text
  • Non-responsive (yep, it still happens in 2019)
  • Too many sub-menus
  • Relies on Javascript (with no fallback)

How to fix your site’s navigation

The golden rule here is to make your navigation accessible, responsive and clutter-free.

Think about your categories, your most valuable pages, where users spend most of their time and, more importantly, who your users are.

Forever 21 does a great job of linking through to the main areas of its site in a structured and visually pleasing way.

example of forever 21 good site navigation to main pages

 

Let’s say you run an ecommerce store for pets (because everybody loves animals).

You sell products for dogs, cats and rabbits. Here’s how you can structure your navigation…

example of good site navigation

Aesthetics are everything

People are visual creatures. We like websites to be aesthetically pleasing.

One of the biggest cardinal sins of UX is poor imagery, color choices and font selection. In fact, I’ll extend that into most areas of any online marketing; social media and display ads.

Here’s an example of all three on a single site:

example of bad site nav, has bad colors, fonts, and images

I don’t think I need to go much further into why this could be improved. But, I will go into the how.

Even the big brands get it wrong…

boohoo example of bad site navigation, how one poorly sized image affects UX of whole page

Notice how a single, poorly sized image has affected the feel of the whole page?

Fixing poor page structure

Things to consider when it comes to site layout are: margins, padding and alignment.

As you can see in the example above, alignment is a big issue and even a small amount of misaligned content/imagery can look unprofessional. Web pages work in columns which provide a structure for designers to create landing pages which can influence users’ focus and attention.

Combining text and images together is normally where layouts can become difficult to manage as we’ve already seen.

Luckily for you, we’ve put together a number of page layout examples below which make structuring your content and images simple.

  • Image aligned to the right of text:

example of image aligned to right of text

  • Text on top of image:

example of text on top of image

  • Text box overlaid on carousel image:

example of text overlaid on carousel image

Working with fonts

When you consider fonts, you need to think about how your content will appear at all sizes. From your header hierarchy to your bullet points.

We recommend limiting the amount of different fonts you use on your site. It’s easy to get carried away to give different sections of your site its own ‘feel’.

Once you’ve chosen a single font family or families, consider how you can create contrast between header and body content.

Single font selections with varying font weights can create a very visually pleasing contrast between sections of your page.

A poor font selection can even make a retail giant, such as Amazon, look untrustworthy and unprofessional.

example of poor font selection on Amazon product page

If you’re struggling for ideas on font pairing, you can find use Font Pair to put together different font types. It’s important to remember that font readability will play a huge part in how users consume content.

Consider:

  • Size
  • Width
  • Paragraph spacing
  • Weight

If you’re content currently looks like this:

example of how typography can go very wrong

I’m sorry, but you’re doing it wrong.

Even a minor change to fonts can cause the greatest of upsets to users. Just ask Amazon how it went for it.

Most CMS platforms will come with pre-installed fonts, but if you need more of a selection you can always use Google Fonts.

Finally, consider how your font appears on desktop and mobile.

If your font size is too big, it would take up too much of a mobile screen. If it’s too small, users will struggle to read it. It’s worth testing different sizes to cater for overall legibility.

This is an example of how Zazzle’s homepage appears on an iPhone X – using a font size of 18px.

example of site nav on mobile

Page load times

This shouldn’t be news to you by now.

There are multiple case studies available about how load times can impact conversions. So, I won’t go into that here.

The most common reason for page load times being high, is images. Images are something most site owners can change with little dev input. It ultimately comes down to saving the right file type, using the right dimensions and compressing high-resolution to preserve quality, whilst reducing size.

Savings in KB can often make a huge difference.

Take a look at what happens when image optimization is ignored.

example of slow page load times

For the sake of anonymity, we’ve hidden the brand’s identity.

However, this is the page we were greeted with for over five seconds. It’s a medium-sized ecommerce website that caters to children’s clothing.

By optimizing the images, we found that there were savings of up to 900kb – a significant weight lifted off of a browser.

Consider how this feels for users? First impressions are everything. What’s to stop traffic bouncing due to content/images not loading?

Think about that for a second!

How to fix image bloat

Firstly, you need to find if this is an issue.

You can run speed tests using Google’s Lighthouse or GTMetrix to get an understanding of which files are too heavy. It’s simple to find poorly optimized images for individual pages.

For batch analysis, we recommend using a tool like Sitebulb which has an incredibly in-depth section attributed to page speeds.

If your images are already on your site and you don’t really fancy opening Photoshop and resizing them all, you need to run batch compressions to reduce the file size.

There are a range of image compression tools available online, we recommend Compressor.io or TinyPNG.

It’s often thought that compressing images means poor quality. However, take a look at the image below and assess the quality difference  for yourselves.

example of image size reduced, image compressor
Image size reduced by 37%, over a 1.3MB saving

For those of you using WordPress, you can use the Smush.it plugin to compress and resize the images on your site.

New image formats

Google Developers introduced a new file format which is considered to be superior to its PNG and JPG equivalent.

It offers fantastic lossless and lossy compression for images.

Shaving milliseconds off your load time, especially on poor mobile connections, can stop a user from leaving your site. Google has said it actively rewards sites that are seen to make incremental improvements to site speed.

The great news?

More than 70% of browsers support this media format!

You can read more about WebP with Google Developers.

Pop-ups

No UX mistake roundup would be complete without mentioning pop-ups.

They seem to get more aggressive and more disruptive each year. You’ll find it hard to come across a website without them.

Sorry Sumo, but this is one of the worst.

example of a bad scroll-triggered popup on a website

This is considered a scroll-triggered pop-up. Whereby, the page waits for me to interact before the pop-up is shown.

There is one major rule that you must abide by: do not disrupt a user’s experience with pop-ups. We know this is a bold statement but… who likes pushy sales?

If you want to help users, do it natively.

Remember, we’re creating a frictionless journey.

How to use pop-ups — the right way

First things, don’t ever use interstitial pop-ups. It will annoy users and could defer the rendering of your page in search engines.

Both are bad for business.

We recommend using pop-ups in a more subtle manner.

Top banners

example of a brand CTA at the top of a screen

A perfect example of a branded CTA at the top of the screen. It’s non-invasive on both desktop and mobile.

Chatbots

good example of a website chatbot

Chatbots are a great way to help users find what they’re looking for, without disrupting their experience.

You can incorporate lead generation, discount codes or just offer general customer advice. It can help improve operational efficiency (reducing calls into the business) and improving conversion rates.

If a customer is finding it hard to find a particular area of the site, chatbots can remove this friction quickly to help retain users.

Native CTA banners

good example of native CTA banners

Another smart way to offer discounts to users is to integrate CTAs within product selections or even at category level as a header banner.

We find this to be a great way to preserve UX and still help drive incentivized clicks to sale or discount pages.

It’s always important to remember to design banners to match size and resolutions of your products.

Summary

UX is as important to your website as your content. Data shows that UX is still a bit of a mystery to many marketers, but it should be the most important factor on any site design.

Website innovation is encouraged but not at the cost of your users. When you’re considering how to improve your user’s experience, you need to remember how you feel navigating a poorly put together site.

Consider the easy fixes; fonts, images, colors and navigation first, before you think about CRO (conversion rate optimization).

Remember, we’re in a market driven by user behavior so, try your best to cater to that as much as you can and you’ll win!

Ryan Roberts is an SEO Lead at Zazzle Media.

The post How to fix the top most painful website UX mistakes [examples] appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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admin October 8, 2019 0 Comments