Inevitably, your key concern while re-launching your website will probably be the design: your brand spanking new website should be fresher, less cluttered, more modern. After all, your website is your company’s digital identity, your imprint on the internet, and your key priority is making sure that you make only the most thought out, careful changes how others perceive your company.

Nevertheless, even the best thought out website re-launches can destroy years of effort at attracting web visitors. If SEO, or search engine optimization, is not taken into account at every stage of the re-design process, you will end up doing more harm than good both to your website, and the entire organization. Even if the new site design is clearer and more attractive, none of that will benefit your business if it is found be fewer people. 

Our own recent website re-launch has inspired us to compile this dossier of factors that can and will affect your SEO as you attempt to pursue a website redesign.

Firstly, it is crucial to acknowledge that everything always begins and ends with good planning. Start by analyzing the best aspects of your current site, what has worked well in the past and what has not, and your objectives (such as lead generation, e-commerce, etc.)

These are some important aspects you should keep in mind throughout the planning stages:

•    Number of visitors / visits / special visitors (monthly average)

•    Short keywords (in terms of rankings / traffic / lead generation)

•    Number / structure of the domains that link to the site

•    Amount of traffic generated

•    Quantity of indexed subpages

If you take into account the aforementioned points, you will have a good foundation later on to check up on whether your re-launch was a success, and what adjustments are necessary in order to make the website a bigger success.

The following are the key areas that need to be taken into consideration in ensuring successful SEO:

1. Identify popular keywords and take them into account when creating content.

Make sure to check your old website for easily identifiable keywords and create a list that you can refer to at a later stage. Check your Google Webmaster Tool results, as well as any other information you can glean from SEO tools such as MOZ that will highlight effective search engine results. Be careful to not throw out the baby with the bathwater, however, and only discard useless information.

Don’t overdo it, though. Keyword stuffing is surprisingly common these days given how disproportionally using keywords in texts where they have no place being does way more harm than good for Google rankings. Remember: Google notices if you overuse keywords on your website, and your credibility (and ranking!) will automatically be called into question.

That said, keywords are still incredibly important and if you behave exactly as Google wants you to behave - create fresh, high quality content - keywords will be incorporated into your website organically.

It never hurts to refer to the source for inspiration:

In creating a helpful, information-rich site, write pages that clearly and accurately describe your topic. Think about the words users would type to find your pages and include those words on your site.

Google

2. Rethink your URL structure.

One of the absolute priorities of the website re-launch process is assessing the scope of your URL. Namely, if your URL does not match the content of each page, you should go ahead and change it.

In reality, just as web users prefer clear and concise content, search engines also prefer easy-to-read URLs that are reflective of the content found on that page. While rebuilding your website, ask yourself what effect your current URL has on your SEO. Does an adjustment need to be made?

A general rule for creating effective URLs is using hyphens (-) between words as opposed to underscores (_) as Google itself uses hyphens as separators. Thus, using hyphens within your URLs will make the content of your page stand out to Google, something you definitely want to happen! An example of such a URL would be: 

http://www.getbynder.com/en/knowledge/our-blog/bynder-ranked-1-digital-asset-management-solution-by-top-ten-reviews/

With the above URL, Google will automatically classify the web page in question as a result in searches for “digital asset management solution,” “digital asset management,” and “top ten reviews.”

However, if you were to use underscores instead of hyphens, Google would see the URL as an individual word. For example, in this URL:

http://www.getbynder.com/en/knowledge/our-blog/letsgetvisual/

…Google would only bring up your website were someone to search for “letsgetvisual”. 

Caution! Before you start changing your URLs, remember that a site visitor that uses the old URL (because the old URL is still indexed in Google, for example) will find a blank page and a 404 error as a result. Thus, make sure that all changed pages are redirected to new or alternate pages.

3. Use responsive design

A site’s mobile accessibility is becoming more and more important to Google for obvious reasons: more people are using their smartphones and tablet devices for both business and pleasure. If you opt to enable a mobile version of your website, we recommend that you do so using responsive design. Responsive, or “reactive” design means that all texts and images on your website will auto-adjust to the web visitor’s screen size, whether they are opening your web page on their laptop or on their smartphone. 

Responsive design also means that there is only an HTML version of a website, meaning you will be able to avoid having to use different domains and URLs, which in turn will create better opportunities for your standard site. 

These are the lessons we at Bynder learned during our own re-launch. It was not an easy process by any extent, but we are ecstatic about the results and hope our lessons learned will embolden you to pursue website re-design confidently when the time comes. 

Or have you considered rebranding? Read more on our own personal experiences with rebranding Bynder here.