Of course it’s important to have a good-looking website that converts. If the design is outdated, the navigation isn’t user-friendly, and people aren’t buying or filling out lead forms, it’s necessary to take a look at why this might be, and make changes to your site as necessary. However, it’s possible to improve certain aspects of your existing website without doing a complete overhaul. In many cases this is the best option, because a complete overhaul can potentially come with some risks.
Recently a long-term client of ours decided that they wanted a creative refresh from a design perspective and launched a new site hoping that it would improve conversion. The content on the site is excellent and our SEO campaign was able to improve traffic by over 300% to the original site. Unfortunately, some website development decisions were made hastily throughout the process and SEO wasn’t kept in mind. The website design team, that was great at design, wasn’t knowledgeable in SEO (and who would expect them to be?). Since changes were being made on the back end without regard to SEO, it resulted in some website errors that are big red flags to the search engines, like duplicate titles and duplicate page content. Even though this was an innocent mistake, it resulted in a significant dip in rank and visitor growth. The errors were caught and corrections have been made but the damage was done. Given that the site is trusted, we’re hopeful that it will rebound quickly.
By contrast, another long-term client underwent a website redesign and the process altogether took nearly a year but it was done correctly. They made sure to have our SEO team involved in all of the decisions and introduced the design team to the SEO team early on. If there was ever a question on either end, the established relationship made things run seamlessly. Before the new website went live, we were able to make sure that all of the coding and redirects on the back end were OK while still in the testing environment. The process may have taken a bit longer, but that client can rest assured knowing that things were done correctly. By being cautious, the website will be able to maintain its strong search engine presence with the new website.
If you are considering a website redesign, be sure to keep SEO in mind and hire a developer that is somewhat knowledgeable about SEO and willing to work with your SEO team throughout the process. Certain critical items like content, meta data, H tags, page load time, and URL structure need to be kept in place. Sometimes working with the code on the back end can unintentionally harm all of the hard SEO work that has been put in.
It’s important to prevent your website from going stale, which means making changes as time goes along. If you are satisfied with the conversion rate of the site and the traffic that the site achieves, don’t rush through a redesign. It’s possible to make small changes over time to improve the look or conversion without changing everything about the site and running the risk of putting a dent into your SEO efforts.