December 23, 2015

Tips to Avoid SEO & UX Disaster after Website Overhaul

website overhaul

Website redesign and migration can be really stressful if you are doing it for the first time. Aside from the excitement of launching a new website, there’s also the anticipation of how search engines and users will respond to the changes. You may need to overhaul your website for various reasons, and sometimes it is necessary for achieving better results. But stakeholders are not interested in knowing how intimidated you are. The only thing they care about is traffic and revenue generation. Because of the enormous pressure and lack of knowledge, online businesses make mistakes that prove to be detrimental for the website and eventually the business. If you are planning to re-brand, re-platform and redesign your website, make sure you keep the following factors in mind.

When do things go wrong?

The process of website overhaul involves different stages. Strategizing each step early on is crucial. Most of the failures that occur at the end of the process happen due to faulty planning. Unfortunately, fixing the mistakes once the site has been launched can be very expensive. When redesigning your website, your primary objective should be to address the problems that cropped up over the years. However, before making any radical strategic changes, you need to make sure there is factual evidence suggesting that this is the right approach.

Making too many changes can also have undesirable consequences. If you are planning to make too many UX changes, remember that users may not be able to familiarise themselves with the new website, and that may leave them confused and frustrated. Similarly, search engines may have a hard time crawling, indexing and ranking pages that have been moved or updated in a non SEO-friendly manner. There are various factors that may jeopardise your efforts. Check out these few tips to avoid the common pitfalls of website overhaul:

Have clear, measurable and realistic objectives:

Online business owners often feel compelled to redesign their website to become at par with their competitors. But the new design often fails to be as user-friendly as it used to be. That is why you should not redesign your website just because it looks outdated. Your decision needs to be backed by substantial evidence. For example, if your website is showing poor organic search performance due to faulty architecture, or if CMS lacks vital features, it may be valid enough reason to go for the overhaul.

Also, your objectives should include both SEO targets such as improving key rankings, and retaining organic traffic, and user engagement targets such as increasing conversions and bounce rate. The former will impact traffic, and the latter will impact conversions. So, there’s really point of going through all the troubles if the redesign does not fetch you these benefits.

Know your limits, strengths and weaknesses well:

Website migration is a complex process that is different for every website. It requires a lot of thought and careful considerations. In order to define realistic objectives, you would first need to have a clear picture of your website’s strengths and weaknesses. You must also have an in-depth understanding of your target market and competitors. For example, if you are competing with industry giants, it would be unrealistic to expect organic traffic to rise as a result of site migration.

Achieving growth can be challenging especially in saturated niches. That is why you need to weigh both pros and cons before taking the final decision of redesigning your website. You should also be realistic about the growth you are expecting against your competitors. Think about your position in the market. Are you sure you can beat your competitors from where you are standing? If not, investing in a site redesign is least likely to yield favourable results.

Take an approach that is drive by data:

A data driven approach is crucial if you want to make the right decisions in terms of redesign and UX. Analytics data can be used to identify factors such as low-traffic and high-traffic pages, popular and problematic user journeys, as well as the best and worst performing call to action. Through a data driven approach, you will be able to better prioritise all the areas that need improvement. You would also be able to safeguard those areas that are already performing well.

Strike a balance between SEO and UX:

In order for your website to perform well after the redesign, you would need to find the balance between SEO and UX. Focusing too much on UX may result in lower traffic and ranking. On other hand, putting too much of emphasis on SEO may disturb the user engagement aspect of a website. When website redesign is headed by UX teams, the results often include decreasing organic traffic. Also, when the same is led by SEO experts, you may notice a reduction in conversion rates. Either way, revenue generation has to suffer. To avoid such negative impacts, you must make sure the migration and redesign is able to strike a balance between SEO and UX.

Evaluate your content strategies:

Did you know that a haphazard approach to content can bring doom to website redesign and migration efforts? Before removing, moving or consolidating any significant portion of your website’s content, you need to think about the effect it will have on SEO and UX. If you are building a brand new content strategy, remember that it will affect the site’s internal linking, page structure and information architecture. Therefore, it will not only influence user journeys, but it will also redefine the way search engines will crawl the various pages.

To avoid any nasty surprises later on, make sure you discuss and evaluate your content strategies beforehand. The SEO and UX teams should also consider the pros and cons of the suggested changes in the strategy. After a thorough analysis, they will be able to spot potential issues, and recommend necessary changes.

So, now you know that the website migration and redesign process is not a child’s play. It has the potential to make or break your business. Therefore, before making any big changes or taking any important decision, you need to think about the consequences.

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