Why Talking To Your SEO Is Best To Do Before Your Company Engages In A Redesign

Every week we get at least 10 requests from individuals and companies looking to build a website. After learning a bit about their ideas and goals, one of the first questions we ask is who their SEO firm or person is and if we can talk with them. Surprisingly, 90% of the folks we talk to, either do not discuss the redesign with their marketing firm or came to us by referral because they needed a web design and application that could be marketed well on the web and had sadly wasted money with other companies that did not share this advice.SEO strategy before your website redesign

I can't emphasize enough how important it is to have your marketing team or SEO involved before spending money on a new website. Many of the clients we talk to for help with SEO, sadly have wasted thousands of dollars with a firm recommending a flashy, complicated, heavy design which not only gives little room for proper site architecture but slows the site down and makes it difficult for users to navigate or inducing sites with music and video and pages that don't link properly causing high bounce rates and low CTA's or Call to Action. For many, budget will be a big determination factor on the involvement, but if done correctly will save and make you much more money for a long time to come.  Here are my top considerations before redesigning your site and questions you should ask.

#1. Information Architecture and Wireframe

Your SEO will be able to guide you and your stakeholders through the wireframe and let you know what areas are necessary for usability and hierarchy structure.  Before signing off on design, include your SEO or team for their advice.  This will save you time and money in revisions later as 95% of the time, your SEO will make changes to many of the pages that are performing poorly or are not viable.

#2 Content Strategy & Optimization

Content is king! Along with broken links that forgotten when re-linked, content on traffic-driving pages which is so critical, is often treated like a red headed step child and not optimized or cross linked properly.  Content can be a huge driving force for many sites that do not have as much competition as others along with the fact that its what users are seeking to learn about your company. It will keep people coming back if its good! Spend time developing great content. If you are on a budget, check out Textbroker.com, they where recommend to me by friend Steve Plunkett

over at Rockfish while he was speaking at PubCon in Vegas.  I just began using them and Christine is super friendly and can help you find the right writers to create content affordably and viable for search. This is very helpful if writing is not your forte.

#3 CMS Consideration & Review

Brochure websites have been very popular for the last 10 years, however with so much content being created and pushed onto the web, more companies want control as well as the ability to mange their content. If you are redesigning a site that will now have a CMS, consider the following. Choose a search friendly CMS or application such as Drupal(our favorite), Joomla(also excellent), Magento( great for E-commerce) or Wordpress( great for blogs). These are user friendly both on the front and back-end as well as built to improve SEO features.  Keep in mind if its a custom application that no one is heard of, your SEO might have to spend tons of hours hacking or working around a non-friendly CMS.

#4 Redirect Strategy and URL Consideration

If you are wanting a redesign to boost your Search rankings, one of the absolute most important considerations is your redirect strategy. This is one of the most critical yet, often time forgotten or overlooked areas of site redesign with inexperienced web design firms. Remember if all they do is design and develop, then marketing is most likely NOT considered.  This is definitely an area your SEO will remind you of.

#5 Review and Testing

After design and development have taken place, make sure to get your SEO involved during final phases of testing. A proper firm or SEO will check for broken links, simulate crawls and ensure that all of the sites architecture is properly developed and makes sense to the end user. This is also a good time to become more familiar with your CMS and the SEO features each may contain. There are also a few SEO Toolkits that can be helpful such as IIS SEO Toolkit developed by Microsoft , Drupal SEO Checklist module and SEF

for Joomla.

Along with these tips, I thought I would also share some of my personal favorite Best and Worst websites from design to relevance and usability we have seen through 2010. Please take caution if you are prone to seizures and what some consider ART and enjoy the easy and simplicity of some of our favorites!

Ahemm.. Ill start with the more comical and improve as we go. Hope you enjoy!

Top 5 Worst Sites I've come across through 2010:

  1. Yale Art School  - 2 revisions - Yale Art School Revised ( still pretty awful), USA
  2. Ling Cars  - U.K.
  3. ArnGren - Norwegian selling site
  4. Mr. Bottles - Wisconsin, USA
  5. Evolution and the Nature of Science - Indiana, USA - yes, another university site sadly

My Top 5 Favorites for Design, Usability and CTA's:

  1. Apple - USA
  2. Philosophers Notes - USA - Great from a marketing standpoint
  3. YardBarker - USA , a little bit of everything for the sports enthusiast
  4. National Geographic - timeless 
  5. Mint - Finance management for Everyone - highly recommend and easy to use