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Redesign Your Website for SEO: A Checklist

Redesign Your Website for SEO: A Checklist in Vancouver WA and Portland OR

Redesign Your Website for SEO: A Checklist

Digital Marketing by Chris Kramer in Vancouver WA and Portland OR

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Redesigning a website can, and should be, an exciting endeavor. Perhaps the redesign is to reflect a new business direction or a new brand aesthetic. Maybe you saw your competition’s new site, and felt the pressure to deliver something new to your users or customers. Maybe you’re just sick of your current website, and enjoy a project.

Below, I will outline steps that should be taken to ensure that your current optimization efforts don’t get bungled, or how to course correct, when rebuilding or redesigning your website.

Table Of Contents

Survey The Land

It’s important to know how search engines view your site before going into a redesign project. This is true of a site that is already performing well, because you won’t want to mess with a good thing. Meaning, if your site is performing awesomely, you won’t want to screw that up with a sloppy redesign.

On the other hand, if you are redesigning mainly to make SEO gains, not just aesthetic ones, taking into account what search engines like Google are telling you about your site, is valuable.

Google Search Console

Click here if your site isn’t connected to Google Search Console or Google Analytics. I’m assuming that most people reading this will have their site connected to these free services if you’re reading this article.

In Search Console, click the “coverage" tab. Explore this area to see what pages are actually indexed and which are not. For pages that are on your xml.sitemap, but aren’t indexed, are these pages you could improve? Are they not indexed because the content is thin, or because the content is too similar to another page.
search console coverage

Next, click the “performance" tab. It’s important to have a grasp of what search terms your site is getting impressions with, and what queries are garnering clicks to your site. Write down a list of search terms with high impressions, but few clicks. These search terms can come in handy, especially since you’ll most likely be touching every page throughout the redesign process and will have an opportunity to fine tune your content, page titles, etc.
search console performance

Next click the “mobile usability", “page experience", and “core web vitals" tabs. Take note of any warnings you find in here, as these are hints at ways to let Google know, because remedied, you take user experience seriously. Sites with lower traffic volume might see something along the lines of “Not Enough Data". If this is the case, don’t worry, there are other ways of sussing out this data.

Google Analytics

Next, go into your Google Analytics account. I’m going to assume that your site is connected to a Universal Google Analytics account. Google Analytics 4 is somewhat new, and while it reveals compelling interaction data, most people will likely have legacy accounts.
analytics site-behavior

The area I would suggest taking data points from is the “behavior" tab. Inside, the “behavior flow" area can be a great tool to visualize where people are landing and leaving. Maybe you see a page that gets more traffic than you thought it was. A common page I see users consistently viewing that doesn’t always get much design love is the “about" page. The “landing pages" and “exit pages" sections offer a more concise, list-style version of the “behavior flow" area. The idea is to simply get familiar with how users and search engines are assessing and interacting with your site and use

Hit The SERPS

Moving on, head to Google and enter into the search bar “site:yoursite.com". The result will be a list of every page Google has indexed from your domain. If you are connected to Search Console, you already have access to this information, but this exercise offers new information: page titles and meta descriptions.
serp check

It’s not uncommon for Google to scrap page titles, and replace them with one they see more fit for that page. If you see this happening, it can give you insight into how search bots assess your page. This is more useful information to have when redesigning, as you’ll want to address these issues as they arise before submitting your site for re-indexation.

Lighthouse

Lighthouse is a tool built into Chrome Developer tools. This tool can give a quick insight to key performance and SEO factors that are good to be aware of when going into the redesign/rebuild process.

lighthouse Go to either your homepage, or any other page that you feel is typical of your website, or that has high SEO value/lots of traffic, and right click. At the very bottom, click “inspect". Once the inspector opens, click “Lighthouse" on the top navigation. Once inside, check any boxes you’d like, though I would say SEO, performance, and accessibility will yield the most pertinent results when redesigning your website. Next, choose mobile or desktop, but do both by the end.

Take a look at your scores, and drill down into the explanations thereof to get a page by page insight into these core metrics. Don’t let a low SEO score freak you out, as the tool will tell you
These checks ensure that your page is following basic search engine optimization advice. There are many additional factors Lighthouse does not score here that may affect your search ranking, including performance on
This mainly means that the SEO is being very nitpicky with HTML semantics, but does not take into consideration the quality of content. The information is still good to have when trying to get a well-rounded overview of key technical aspects of your site.

Considerations when redesigning your website for SEO

Now that you have an understanding of how search engines are parsing your website, you can go into your redesign with a list of do’s and don’ts.
  • Do you have pages that are performing well AND the page title hasn’t been changed by Google? DON’T mess with it, other than applying your new design!
  • Have you noticed lots of traffic clicking on a page that you haven’t given much love to? DO mess with it! Add more content, add more images, reassess the title and meta, etc..
  • Did you see a large amount of traffic exiting your site from a specific page?DO mess with it!
  • Is there a call to action that garners lots of conversions?DON’T mess with it!
  • Did you notice a handful of pages that Google was editing the titles of? Google is gonna Google, but take a look at those pages to see if the content reflects the keyword you were intending that page to be about.

Site Structure/Page Slugs

During a redesign is a great time to address the url structure of your site. Over time, as more pages and sections are added to your website, your site structure can become smeared. The way your pages are organized is one of the main signals that search engines use to gain insight into your website. Import your sitemap into a spreadsheet and look at the way your site is laid out. Are some urls, 3, 4, 5 levels deep? That’s too deep. Reorganize your pages to not be more than three levels deep, max. Can some pages be combined? Does it make sense to add an entire new section?

After you take the structure into consideration, start to look at the individual page slugs. Are they as short and descriptive as possible? If not, now would be a good time to change them to something shorter and sweeter. Google loves a tidy, descriptive url.

Make sure to keep track of all of the structural changes you’ve made for when it comes time to issue 301 redirects. 301’s do not affect SEO, but a more concise structure and urls do affect your SEO - positivity!

How can I improve SEO on a page level?

When redesigning at the page level, you want to focus around conciseness and interlinking. Make sure that each page has a clear subject and that the keywords for that page match the subject. If you aren’t already using heading tags, now is a good time to reorganize your content around them. Also, if the content is too thin, definitely consider re-writing or adding depth to the information you’re presenting. Look for any opportunity within the content to link to related pages on your site. Add relevant images if there aren’t any. If your site isn’t using breadcrumbs, you need to add them. If you find that the content serves a very similar purpose to another page on your site, consider merging the pages. And as always, make sure you check the mobile experience of your pages.

Summary

  • Reassess page-level keywords
  • Review heading tags
  • Enrich and add depth to thin content
  • Look for interlinking opportunities to relevant pages on your site
  • Optimize images
  • Add backlink/breadcrumbs
  • Review mobile experience

SEO For Your Blog Posts

You don’t want all your well intentioned blog posts to get lost in the blackhole that is the internet, do you? When redesigning your website, take the time to SEO your blog area to make sure your articles get a fair shake on search engines.

Author Pages

Search engines, like Google, are really honing in on making sure that content on websites can be attributed to a creator or author. They want someone to be responsible for the words on your pages. This is for a couple of reasons. One, the web is full of lies. If you are transparent and link to an author page, this shows Google that you aren’t afraid to own up to your content. On the other hand, it could force creators to rethink the utility of the content they put out. Either way, it helps to fill results pages with more relevant, fully-formed ideas. So if you do not already have author pages set up, take the time to do so and link articles/content to the appropriate author, with a rel="author" in the anchor tag.

Article Schema

If you’re using WordPress’s Yoast plugin, you should be in good shape, though I have seen situations where people were not in good shape, even when using Yoast. Either way, it would be good to double check that you are in fact implementing schema markup on your articles and blogs. If you are taking the time to research and author long blogs, you want to take the time to communicate the content on a technical level, because it’s not just Google using this information to catalog pages, but lots of aggregators will scrape this data as well, to possibly feature your work.

Post Website Redesign Actions

Good job! You’ve successfully redesigned your website to give you users an updated experience, while taking steps to minimize, or improve, your SEO. There are a few actions to take after your launch to help make sure that your efforts weren’t in vain.
  1. Run your new site though the Screaming Frog tool to help uncover basic errors such as dead link or duplicate heading tag, and even page title and meta description misses.
  2. Make sure to issue 301 redirects to address any url structure changes
  3. Login to your Search Console account and upload a new copy of your xml sitemap
  4. Login to your Google Analytics account and make an annotation on the timeline for when your redesign launched.
  5. Write a blog post informing users of your new look! (optional.,but hey, doesn’t hurt)
Redesigning your website to include all the newest UX/UI gizmos should be exciting, hopefully this article will help you feel better about making adjustments without sacrificing all of your hard-earned traffic.

Digital Marketing Agencies Vs. Freelancer: Which To Choose Post Pandemic?

Digital Marketing Agencies Vs. Freelancer: Which To Choose Post Pandemic? in Vancouver WA and Portland OR

Digital Marketing Agencies Vs. Freelancer: Which To Choose Post Pandemic?

Digital Marketing by Chris Kramer in Vancouver WA and Portland OR

By

When a small business decides to spend money on digital marketing, they will inevitably face a choice between an agency or an independent or freelancer. The decision to choose an agency might seem like a no-brainer to some businesses, as the idea of having a whole team of marketers in your corner, driving leads and getting the phone to ring, will help you sleep better at night. While it may be true that partnering with an agency means more hands on deck, this isn’t always beneficial or even necessary.

Covid Related Influx of Digital Freelancers

Tech and digital services are among the many sectors feeling the effect of “the great resignation”. The tug-of-war of working from home, working in the office, going back home, etc., was an eye opener to many in digital industries. The tug-of-war of working from home, working in the office, going back home, etc., was an eye opener to many in digital industriesI was among those that found a way out of this cycle. Like many others with years working for larger companies in the digital space, I had been weighing the pros and cons of going independent or freelancing. The idea of owning my ideas, instead of selling them had always seemed like the path to professional and personal peace to me.

Well, as it turns out, I was anything but alone. According to a study performed by Upwork, and reported by NPR, two million Americans have chosen to freelance since the beginning of the pandemic. While not all have deliberately decided to freelance, losing their job instead of leaving, a majority of new freelancers have said no amount of money would convince them to go back to a traditional job.

What does this mean for small businesses seeking digital marketing services?

This trend is nothing but good news for small businesses, as having options rarely is anything but. As someone who has worked for a bustling, rapidly growing digital marketing agency, to someone who is now fully independent, I am qualified to speak on this issue. For small businesses looking to detangle or enhance their digital marketing efforts, the question of whether to choose an independent or agency it’s more of a matter of style, as opposed to quality now.

This is due to the amount of experienced, highly qualified SEOs and internet marketers on the market now. That’s not to say that there aren’t still a share of “expert” freelancers out there, trying to make a quick buck. There are. Just as there is a percentage of agencies on the market who take business's hard earned money and do half of the work that they promise.

Why should you choose a freelancing digital marketer?

  • Direct Communication

    The business owner that chooses a freelancer of an agency is the type of person that finds value in connecting directly with people. When working with an independent marketer, there is a 1:1 relationship between what you and your marketer decides is needed, and what work gets done. When working with an agency, a game of telephone is played between the business owner, their account manager, then to the SEO and Development teams. This isn’t always the case, but what is lost in translation can cost time and money.
  • Work Gets Done Faster

    Another benefit of working with a non-agency marketer is the speed at which work gets done. In the digital marketing space, things change rapidly. A technical problem can arise, a new search engine guideline can come out, something that happens locally can become a marketing or lead generating opportunity. When these situations arise, working with someone who can respond quickly is worth something. As mentioned above, working with an agency can mean you are competing with your account manager’s other clients, and if those clients are paying more, you’ll have to wait.
  • Constant Attention

    Moving on, this benefit can’t be understated. Working with a freelancer means more focused attention on your account. A freelancer’s clients are their bread butter, and if something goes wrong with one of their accounts, there’s no one else to blame. This means quality care taken with the ins and outs of your website and campaigns. An account manager at an agency has many clients’ accounts to maintain and keep an eye on.
  • Personalized Out Of The Box ideas

    SEO and digital marketing is a constant game of trying to outdo your clients' competition. When working with an independent marketer, there is a one to one relationship between what you and your marketer decides is needed, and what work gets done.Coming up with unique content opportunities, marketing strategies, and innovative ideas is the name of the game. When working with an independent, you are part of a small group of clients that benefit from any new concepts your marketer comes up with, most of which are probably not in your same industry. This is not so with an agency, where a new concept is used across the board with all clients, a high chance of which are in the same line of business as you. This means that the agency’s client roster as a whole may perform better than the next agency’s client roster, but client’s that are competing within the agency’s client list don't really see the full benefit. With an independent, you will be part of a much smaller group that benefits from any new techniques that they come up with.
  • Personally Invested

    Lastly, a good independent marketer is personally invested in their clients. They don’t have the benefit of a sales team that funnels new leads to them or a development that supports them. When you succeed, they succeed. That’s not to say that an agency wouldn’t be invested in your success, but it’s not the same way a freelancer would be.

Why should you choose a digital marketing agency?

  • You Have A Large Business

    This one is pretty simple. If you have a large business with many employees, a full fledged agency would, most times, be a better fit. The only time this wouldn’t be the case, is if a freelancer was serving your business soley. If you have a large business, with many locations and are growing fast, an agency will have more people to respond to your needs, and respond to them simultaneously.
  • You Have Complex Business Needs

    If your business has unique needs, an agency might be better for you. Complex issues that require high level programming and problem solving, whilst regular month work is being performed at the same time, is something agencies thrive at. Again, a highly qualified freelancer would have no problem tackling these tasks, but more so if they were dedicating all of their attention to your business, which, from a diversification point of view, may not be the best choice for the freelancer.
  • Access To Top Tier Digital Services And Tools

    This benefit, again, really only benefits larger businesses that are seeking growth. Agencies typically invest heavily in expensive marketing services that freelancers just wouldn’t need to invest in. Marketing tools that utilize the cutting edge technology of AI and Machine Learning can help businesses make accurate budget projections, and to predict and track the success of highly complex marketing campaigns. These industry level tools can be of great benefit to your business year over year depending on your goals. Freelancers most likely aren’t paying for access to these services.

So Which Is best For You Business?

If after evaluating the points above, you are still unsure about which direction to go when choosing a search optimization service, there’s one more metric that has yet to be discussed: price point! Marketing budgets vary widely depending on a whole host of factors: type of business, cash flow, and time of year are just a few. Freelancers are better suited to handle these situations, as they are more elastic and know you on a more personal level. Agency level services have an overhead that is many multiples larger, and don’t have as much wiggle room with their monthly SEO packages.

Does that mean, because you’re paying less, that a freelancer is the lesser option? It does not mean this at all. If a freelancer is surviving out in the wild, it means their product has value to businesses in the community. If you should come away from this article with anything, it should be knowing that in a pandemic stricken world, there are more highly qualified freelancers than ever before that are more than capable of helping small businesses grow. Developing a long lasting relationship with your digital partner can be a mutual beneficial experience all involved. Thanks for reading!
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