Your website redesign project could fail if you're neglecting your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. Nearly 90% of people won't return to a site after a bad user experience (UX). In fact, 70% of online businesses fail due to bad UX. Poor mobile optimization annoys nearly 50% of consumers, as well.
After a redesign, it’s common for websites to lose traffic and dip in rankings. However, you can avoid jeopardizing your search engine rankings by carrying out your website redesign project with foresight and strategy.
Here are some of the biggest SEO mistakes you need to avoid when redesigning your website.
6 SEO Mistakes to Avoid During a Website Redesign Project
You can boost your organic rankings, reduce bounce rate, and reach more customers by avoiding the following SEO mistakes as you revamp your website's look and legitimacy.
1. Deleting Winning Content
Some teams make the mistake of starting from scratch when adjusting their website and branding. However, too many changes could impact your existing search engine rankings at the top of search engine result pages (SERPs). Higher rankings on SERPs can help you generate brand awareness, web traffic, and leads.
When redesigning your website, don't scrap or revise your high-ranking content without careful consideration first. Failing to retain your top-performing content can cost you:
- Featured snippets (formatted content that appears at the top of SERPs)
- Inbound links (which direct readers to your posts)
- Future website traffic
It could take you months or even years to improve your search engine rankings. Changing the content on a page will cause search engines to reassess the content. For example, the algorithm will determine if the content is still relevant to the user's search intent. Search intent indicates what the user expects to find during a search.
If the page no longer exists or appears drastically different than it did before, the search engine might decide it's no longer relevant to the user's search intent. Then, the search engine might demote your content. As your rankings drop, you might struggle to reach ideal customers online.
If people visit your pages and decide the content isn't relevant to their needs, they'll leave. Your bounce rate will rise as people leave without exploring your site. A high bounce rate can hurt your organic rankings.
While redesigning your website, make sure to:
- Review your analytics
- Determine which pages are most popular
- Find pages with a low bounce rate
- Determine which pages have the highest conversion rate
Avoid removing or altering these posts to maintain your existing rankings.
2. Neglecting Load Times and Mobile Optimization
Google will determine if you're offering the best possible UX to visitors when reviewing your website. A positive UX indicates your site is easy to navigate and use. Improving your UX will encourage people to linger and explore. Your dwell times (which indicate people are remaining on your site) will increase, boosting your rankings.
When reviewing your site's UX, search engines will consider your page load times. Even a one-second load time delay on mobile devices could hurt your conversion rate by 20%. Meanwhile, people who have a negative experience on your mobile site are 62% less likely to make a future purchase.
Google also reviews the mobile version of your site first when determining your rankings. As you begin updating your site, make sure it's mobile-optimized and fast. You can run your site through Google's PageSpeed Insights and Mobile-Friendly Test to check.
Otherwise, consider working with a team that understands website SEO. They can redesign your website to ensure your rankings improve rather than drop.
3. Ignoring Core Web Vitals
To ensure websites are providing the best possible user experience, Google uses its Core Web Vitals to review your UX. When redesigning your website, make sure to consider the following ranking factors:
- Removing large page elements (which impact speed)
- Improving your web hosting
- Removing unnecessary third-party scripts
- Implementing lazy loading for content below the fold
- Using attribute sizes for media
- Ensuring your site is mobile-friendly
- Using an SSL certificate (you should see "HTTPS" before your domain name)
As you begin updating your website and improving the UX, make sure to consider your link-building strategy, too. First, make sure to look for unexpected 404s (an error that indicates a requested page isn't available). If you can't find the correct page, make sure to direct users to your homepage.
Redirecting the page will tell search engines the content has permanently moved. Redirects can also pass the page's previous SEO ranking power to the new page. Otherwise, neglecting Google's Core Web Vitals could impact the UX, causing your bounce rate to rise.
4. Using Outdated XML Sitemaps
To understand your content, search engines will review your XML sitemap. Reviewing your sitemap helps search engines understand how your site is structured. It also indicates which pages are prioritized.
As you redesign your website, make sure you update your sitemap as well. Otherwise, search engine bots will struggle to crawl and index your site. In fact, bots will only crawl your site if you indicate you've updated the sitemap. Resubmit your new sitemap to Google Search Console to encourage bots to review your new site.
5. Disregarding Website Analytics
One of the biggest SEO mistakes is ignoring analytics and website performance. Review your site for:
- Keyword rankings
- Page speed
- Bounce rates
- Conversion rates
- Click-through rates
Reviewing this data can help you determine what changes you need to make when updating your website SEO.
6. Focusing on Preservation Over Improvement
As you begin applying these SEO tips, make sure you're not solely focused on preserving your website SEO. Instead, look for ways to improve your SEO as well. For example, audit your website to find:
- Missing SEO titles, descriptions, and alt text
- Pages without backlinks
- Images that are too large
- Pages that take too long to load
- Broken links
- Duplicate content
Your SEO titles and descriptions will appear on SERPs. Strong titles and descriptions can encourage people to click on your content. Generating more clicks can boost your rankings. Backlinks are links that appear on other websites. These links will direct readers to your content. Generating backlinks can also help boost your rankings. Meanwhile, Google will check your site for unique content. If you have duplicate posts, it could impact your rankings.
Ready to Redesign: Avoid These Biggest SEO Mistakes
Retaining your organic traffic must be a significant priority during the website redesign process, as recurring SEO mistakes will impact your rankings on search engine result pages. By incorporating a holistic SEO strategy, you’ll ensure your redesigned website reaches and entices new customers.
Remember, you don't have to develop your search engine optimization strategy alone. Businesses considering a website redesign should partner with SEO experts to implement an optimized website that attracts, converts, and delights visitors.