Thinking about giving your website a new look? When you’re determined to give your pages a huge revamp, it can be tempting to hand your site over to a designer who promises stunning visuals and an intuitive layout. The thing is, if you’re not careful, there are certain changes that could kill your website’s SEO.
Ideally, you’re probably gunning for a website that looks up-to-date with a fresh new design that also brings in huge SEO gains. Sound about right? In this article, we’re going to highlight some of the most important factors you need to think about before you go ahead and redesign your pages. Ignore these pointers and your redesign could be doing way more damage than good. These are the mistakes you need to avoid:
Not optimizing on-page elements
A new web design is bound to come with all kinds of fancy visual graphics. Google’s spiders can’t read text that is displayed in an image. The world’s largest search engine actually explains this to us clearly in their official webmaster guidelines: “Try to use text instead of images to display important names, content, or links. The Google crawler doesn’t recognize text contained in images.” Designers may feel the need to replace headers, titles and key text throughout your website with custom-made banners or images to improve looks, but this will effectively cut away many of the most crucial parts of your site from Google’s vision. Make sure core keywords are left in text form on all pages and avoid presenting vital text information with images.
All images you do use need to be optimised for SEO too. A website that’s perfectly optimised for graphics can gain up to 60% of its traffic from Google. These are the most important ways you should be optimising your images for search engines:
🎯 Describe each and every image using the alternative image meta tag
🎯 Don’t use image-based menu options, as crawlers can’t recognise them
🎯 If you want to place links in a footer on every page, follow Apple’s example by organising the links into categories
🎯 Place vital business information like contact details in text form, not as an image
🎯 Don’t leave image names as codes or numbers. Use a descriptive title for all images like “a-dog-in-the-bath.JPG”
Want to check how search engines actually see your pages? You can try using tools like SEO-Browser.com, to get a clear overview of the parts of your site that are indexable and those that aren’t. All you have to do is throw your web address into the browser and hit the “simple” option and it’ll show you a breakdown of your page in Google’s eyes. You’ll see that elements that are clearly described by text are easy to understand, while features of your site that are purely visual go unnoticed.
Forgetting about mobile visitors
If you haven’t yet considered the mobile responsiveness of your new design, you need to give the whole thing a rethink. As much as 78% of local mobile searches lead to some form of offline purchase. People are now spending 69% of their time on mobile and Google’s latest updates actually favour websites that are mobile-friendly.
Everyone’s now using mobile devices to find the things they want as quickly as possible. If you’re giving your website a spruce up, you need to make it mobile-friendly or you’ll lose out big time. What makes a website fit for mobile? A responsive web design will change to fit the size of the screen a user is viewing your pages on. So whether they’re looking at your site on a tiny mobile screen or a 50-inch monitor, their experience will remain smooth and consistent.
The easiest way to build a mobile-friendly site is to do it using a content management system like WordPress. You can then combine a responsive theme on WordPress with a powerful SEO plugin like Yoast to create a site that’s fit for mobile as well as optimised for search engines.
Once you think you’ve built a site that’s mobile-friendly, you’ll need to test how effectively it runs across different devices. Google offers a helpful webmaster tool to help you assess how well your site performs for mobile users. Mobile-Friendly Test is the tool you’ll want to start with. If the analysis returns a green results page, you’re all set. If things need correcting, the results will let you know exactly what needs to be done.
Creating a drop in page speed
A new design often means slicker visuals and more impressive features, which often means larger files. Page loading speed is a key ranking factor in SEO. Not only are internet connections slower on mobile, but a page that takes too long to load will annoy users and increase bounce rates. Check out this chart:
As you can see, the longer your page takes to loan, the more traffic you lose. Use Page Speed Insights to assess the current loading speed of your pages and identify the elements that are causing the biggest delay. The faster your site pops up, the lower your bounce rates and the better the user experience will be. Speaking of exploding bounce rates…
Going mad with pop-up ads
This is a definite no-no you’re going to want to avoid at all costs. Pop-up ads are not indexed by Google. In fact, Google Chrome is actually designed to block them by default. Users hate irrelevant pop-ups and so should you. If you want to see your website’s bounce rates go through the roof, then let your designer go to town with pop-ups that do nothing for your audience.
You can achieve great results from pop-ups as long as you’re doing it in small doses and every pop-up is geared towards enhancing the user’s experience rather than pushing people to do something out of the blue.
These are the most important mistakes you need to avoid when redesigning your website. Think you need more help? Feel free to get in touch or leave a comment below. We’ll be happy to help with any questions have!