It’s almost guaranteed that in the next 2 to 3 years, your company will redesign and/or relaunch your website. In fact, you might be considering it now, and if so, you’re probably wondering when to get SEO involved in the process. The answer: as soon as possible.

Why Website Redesign SEO Matters

Many companies wait until the redesigned site is almost ready to launch before involving SEO, because SEO is still seen by some marketers as an add-on to a website rather than a fundamental part of the site. However, nothing could be further from the truth; good SEO is what allows a site to maximize customers and revenue, which is the essential purpose of a company website. (un)Common Logic co-founder Jim McKinley says a site built or rebuilt without SEO involvement from the start is like “a house with no plumbing,” and waiting until the site has been launched to begin SEO is like trying to install the plumbing after the house has already been built. Not having an SEO perspective and input for every step of the relaunch can lead to some significant consequences:
  • Wasting time and resources developing web elements that damage SEO, then needing post-scope time and resources to fix those elements
  • Crucial technical elements, such as page load speed, being overlooked
  • Losing organic traffic; depending on the severity of the SEO issues, the site could take months to recover

Which Website Relaunch Elements Should Involve SEO

Short answer: all of them. To elaborate, these are the main aspects that can be significantly improved by SEO input:
  • Technical health – Anything that affects page speed (such as changes to CSS, JavaScript usage, images, etc.) or a search engine’s ability to crawl and index your site must include SEO
  • Architecture – Site organization, navigation, and URL structure are just a few aspects of site structure for which SEO input is invaluable
  • Content – Because content is a crucial pillar of SEO, any changes to how content is developed, published, or displayed can only benefit from SEO guidance
One important point is that web development and SEO aren’t the same thing, and that web dev skills and SEO skills are different as well. In fact, when we relaunched this website, we engaged a top web dev firm [link to Glantz site] to design and code the site, while our own SEO team focused on SEO elements.

SEO During Scoping

Because SEO is a mission-critical aspect of every website, its requirements should be considered mandatory to the project and should be taken into account when:
  • Determining the standards for the final product
  • Determining what “done” means:
    • For the overall website, “done” must include QA guidance
    • For individual changes, such as if an architectural change is made, “done” is when all the redirects are completed
  • Determining the time needed to complete new or revamped elements
  • Determining how much value can be added from the relaunch or redesign:
    • As noted, SEO can ensure value is retained by not losing organic traffic
    • SEO can also increase value through enhancements like optimizing site content to achieve visibility for new keywords

SEO During Development

Some of the greatest value SEO can add during the development phase comes at the beginning, with an SEO audit [link to SEO audits page] of the existing site. This audit will evaluate how well existing elements meet best practices or custom guidelines for that website and set a benchmark for performance improvements. Audits on the staging and post-launch sites will then ensure that all elements on the new or relaunched site meet these standards. If any content is changing, SEO guidance can make the difference between the content performing well and not performing at all because search engines can’t identify it or match it to searcher intent. SEO should also have a major influence on content development to ensure resources aren’t wasted on creating content that doesn’t align with the new or redesigned site’s purpose. As pages are added, deleted, or moved, SEO experts will ensure that search-engine crawlability isn’t harmed by adding or updating redirects, adjusting internal links, and reviewing meta content. And finally, they’ll make sure tags and code for analytics and tracking are properly implemented.

SEO Post-Launch

Once a site goes live, its launch process isn’t done yet. Post-launch activities are largely the domain of SEO experts because of their impact on the impression search engines and users get from the website.
  • Post-launch testing ensures that all the desired changes identified during the development and staging processes have been implemented
  • Reviewing the site’s presence in all relevant SEO tools ensures that the site is accurately indexed and crawlable, and that under-the-hood elements like analytics, tracking, and structured data are functioning properly
  • Scrutinizing organic performance in the first days, weeks, and months of a site launch essentially ensures that the relaunch has done its job and is producing more customers and revenue

How Early SEO Involvement in a Website Redesign Boosted Leads

An education client wanted to relaunch their website to promote a new program. SEO involvement from beginning of the process resulted in many site improvements:
  • Architecture: 127 broken links stemming from a defunct blogging platform the client had used were fixed
  • Technical health: The total file size of images and other files on the site was reduced by 70%, resulting in significantly faster load times
  • User experience: The client changed the nav bar choices to use call-to-action language that spoke to the user, such as “Enroll Now,” rather than “Admissions”
Comparison of page speed results for website before and after relaunch As a result, organic lead volume and organic conversion rates both doubled in the first quarter after the relaunch, then both increased by another 50% in the following two quarters.

What to Do If a Redesign Hasn’t Involved SEO Yet

If a site relaunch is almost finished and SEO hasn’t been previously involved, the best course of action is to evaluate the extent to which the new site will meet SEO standards. An (un)Common SEO audit [link to SEO audits page] on the staging site will find major gaps; from there, a prioritized plan will address those gaps with a goal of minimizing the negative impact. For instance, a B2B communications firm migrated their site from HTTP to HTTPS to improve site security and authority. Because it seemed like a minor change and thus not really a “relaunch,” they didn’t see the need to involve SEO. Unfortunately, the company didn’t realize that all internal links and images had to be updated or their pages would be indexed as non-secure, negating much of the gains from the HTTPS switch. After organic performance started to drop, the client’s team quickly fixed the issues. Performance stabilized and began to improve, but the loss in traffic could have been avoided by early SEO involvement. Are you planning to redesign or relaunch your website – or are you in the process already? Contact us to talk about getting SEO involved so your new site can have a bigger impact on your revenue.