Search Engine Optimization (SEO) News From The Front Lines
We recently worked with a client who was updating their site to improve branding and the user experience, and to make it more mobile-friendly. In typical fashion, the client asked their designer to create a new look & feel and simplify what had become a very cluttered website.
The design team created a great-looking site with big, eye-catching images, crisp headlines, a minimalist feel and far fewer pages – overall, a much better representation of the brand. Everyone was ecstatic about the results and excited to launch in time for high selling season.
Lastly, the client called ARSENL to set up SEO.
Our SEO audit showed that the existing web site received tens of thousands of dollars a month worth of organic search traffic and was the most important source of converting traffic for the client’s robust ecommerce sales.
The client’s site had a high number of keywords and phrases that came up in the #1 position in Google and an exponentially higher number in the top 10.
A wide cross-section of the website’s pages contained content relevant to high-volume Google searches and had been linked to by other, well-known industry websites. An enviable SEO position, especially in their heavily ecommerce-dependent industry.
And they were about to kill that golden goose.
The new site design would eliminate a lot of clutter but also a lot of content that users were searching for. And in the process, decimate its Google positions and traffic.
We presented our recommendations to the client and after digesting the news the client put the launch on hold so that important pages and content could be added to the new site, enabling old > new page redirects and a reducing the likelihood of traffic decline.
At launch, SEO traffic actually increased, showing the importance of having a mobile-friendly site, but that is a topic for a different post.
So, direct from the front line, here are your takeaways:
1. Always start your redesign with an SEO audit and a review of all of the channels that deliver you where your site’s traffic comes from. When you have a clear idea of what your users are looking for and how that translates into purchases, you’ll be able to better direct your design team on content priorities.
2. Balance usability and Google readability. Our client and their design team produced a very good site and user experience, evidenced by the huge, post-launch decrease in bounce rate and increase in all usage metrics. They just needed to consider the Google’s search engine view of it as well.
3. Emphasize mobile. No digital marketing today can be successfully undertaken without considering the impact of mobile. This is especially true for SEO, since Google favors sites responsive sites with full mobile content and functionality. If you’re not sure how you’re doing with mobile, go here:
https://search.google.com/search-console/mobile-friendly and submit your URL to Google’s Mobile Friendly Test.
4. Don’t forget that a new site can improve SEO, even for established sites with high positions. In 2016, Google essentially stated that a good site redesign would not necessarily mean a 15% decline in traffic, which had been a well-understood standard. With a good SEO strategy, you can sometimes enhance your keyword positions and drive more traffic.
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This is ARSENL. We do digital marketing, including SEO, for industries including Hospitality, Automotive, Retail, Education and Financial Services.