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5 Blog Redesign Mistakes That Kill SEO

January 31, 2012
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Blogging

SEO, when done right, never interferes with web design, but sometimes redesigning a site can unknowingly interfere with search engine optimization. This is why teamwork among SEOs, designers, marketers and developers is critical during a blog redesign process.

Here are 5 common web design mistakes that kill search engine optimization:

1. High-traffic pages are removed or deleted

The blog redesign process often identifies site content that is no longer a priority, but pages should never be deleted. Older blog posts often bring in a high volume of traffic, and those aged URLs create domain authority and page authority for organic search traffic. Instead of removing pages, protect your SEO and visitor experience by using 301 permanent redirects to ensure visitors via organic search and referral sources can still find relevant content.

2. Top-level keyword terms are omitted from new copy

Assuming you are following SEO best practices for copywriting, this won't be an issue. But too often the blog redesign process forgets to take into account previous keyword research, and text is altered without undergoing an SEO review. The top 3 essential SEO copywriting elements to review (and likely maintain through the blog redesign) are title tags, meta-descriptions, and on-page content like subheadings, bolded text and anchor text for links.

3. The new design does not leave enough room for copy

On January 19, 2012, Google announced a page layout algorithm improvement that looks at the web design layout and the amount of content above the fold. Blog redesigns that emphasize images and ads in the top half of the page mean valuable real estate for great copy is diminished, hence hurting your search engine optimization. Visitors who need to scroll down the page to see the content often decide to bounce, immediately returning to search results. This negative signal indicates to search engines that your content should be downgraded in the results. Avoid this by ensuring the web design allows for adequate room for copy in the top half of the page.

4. The beautiful design takes longer to load

A blog redesign might introduce Flash, a heavy image-based design, too many externally referenced files or extraneous code, all of which can slow down page load times and annoy users. Site performance and bounce rates due to slow load times should be monitored and fixed as needed. Webmaster tools for Google or Bing are useful tools for tracking site speed and page load times.

5. CMS changes affect URLs

Different programming languages and content management systems can affect the URL structure and file extensions used on the blog. These changes—in addition to folder structure changes, which are commonly introduced when categories are changed or removed—should be handled using 301 permanent redirects from the old URL to the new URL.

As you can see, it is easy to unintentionally introduce a blog redesign that negatively impacts search engine optimization. For this reason, it is highly recommended that you bring all partners to the table during the redesign process so that you can reap the benefits of a great web design while ensuring your search engine optimization remains stable or improves.

Considering search engine optimization factors during the blog redesign process should ultimately leave you less stressed at the site launch, and save you money – avoiding SEO problems is much easier than fixing them. Don't paint yourself into a corner by redesigning without SEO planning and keyword research.

About the Author

Monica SherrettMonique Sherrett is the owner of Boxcar Marketing, a Vancouver-based online marketing company that handles online marketing projects related to blogging, content strategy, search marketing and web design. For free advice, follow the Boxcar Marketing blog or Twitter @boxcarmarketing. Or ask for a quote on your online marketing project by emailing monique at boxcarmarketing.com.

Comments

I have bookmarked it and thats a good tip- if you have a great and very colorful design[high size] then it will loads too slow ! i have expermineted this ! and now we are using minimal ! 

Yes SriGanesh.M, it's always a balancing act to use color and images while maintaining good page speed. This is especially true if you have a lot of advertising on your site as those ads tend to be image intensive.

How fast a webpage loads affects user experience and, therefore, is a ranking factor in search results. But there are lots of things you can do to optimize your images or find ways to consolidate the number of external CSS and JavaScript files. Removing any extraneous HTML code and investigating other issues like the server and cache can also help.

I have a 1 Minute Marketing video on page speed here: http://youtu.be/zpaqD1GNA4s

Good luck with your site and thanks for commenting.

Jan 31, 2012

Great tips.  I fully agree with numbers 3, 4 and 5.  With websites, too beautiful is not too good!

There should always be a balance of images/flash and copy.  As we all know, flash loads slowly plus bots cannot

read whatever is wrrtten there - so it is a waste of space. :-)

Sorry for being a little cynical here but come on....

My two year old son would be able to write something like this, it is obvious that removing content or your pages will result in rankings going down.

I honestly cannot believe wordstream are promoting such awfully thin drivel.

Elisa Gabbert
Jan 31, 2012

Philip, I'm sorry to hear you found the content unhelpful, but in fact many of our readers are beginners to blogging and search marketing in general and don't already know the basics. We try to publish content for readers with a range of experience levels.

Hi Zarah, Google can now index Flash but not all search engines can. Here's the July 2011 post from Google Support about it: http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=72746 Some designers are going with HTML5 instead of Flash.

And Philip, I'm sorry to hear that you found the post elementary—and I'd love to meet your very smart two year old. Jokes aside, I'm often hired after a site redesign when a company can't figure out what's happened to their SEO, why the organic search traffic has plummeted. Inevitably they did some redesign and nobody thought to set up redirects or they cleverly "cleaned up" old posts that for some reason they deemed unnecessary or no longer related to their core business offerings. I put it as the #1 point because it's the mistake I see most often. 

Thank you both for taking the time to comment.

Elisa Gabbert
Jan 31, 2012

Thanks Monique, and Philip, if your child wants to write a guest post for us, we'd be happy to consider it! :)

Feb 01, 2012

How fast a webpage loads affects user experience and, therefore, is a ranking factor in search results. But there are lots of things you can do to optimize your images or find ways to consolidate the number of external CSS and JavaScript files..

Elisa Gabbert
Feb 01, 2012

True -- I wrote a guest post on Performancing about ways to make your blog load faster. Thanks for commenting!

Monique,

Great pointers, while simple, they are just what so many small businesses and starting bloggers need to understand in order  to make their presence known to their key audiences. Thanks.

Not keeping SEO in mind when redesigning a blog or website is a common mistake that can be very costly.  It's important to always keep your SEO team in the loop when making changes.  Even a small error can result in lots of lost traffic. 

When making a redesign I always use a complete sitemap to ensure all pages remain. Sometimes with a new client, I will see there are existing broken links. I've had pages restored from previous redesigns - that greately helped SEO wise.

daniel (not verified)
Mar 01, 2012

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Web Design (not verified)
Mar 01, 2012

Thanks for Sharing!!

Really informative tips and resourceful tools for the SEO beginners.

Great tips!  I have been working on SEO so much lately so this is really useful information.  I will continue to follow your blog!

There is one thing that you can add - changing titles 

Google doesn't immediatly rank down a page if you have the same content and the external links are still there, but visitors may not come to your website anymore.

I had the problem, that a plugin misconfiguration in wordpress overwrote the <title> tag for all my pages with a generic one. The pages still ranked, but users didn't find the search result  relevant enough - even on second place - due to a generic title that didn't reflect their search therm.

 

 

I see this post was made pre-penguin, so theres deffinalty some changes that happend and you have to be more carful about how much your spread your keywords around on your website. some people say dont use your main keywords at all, its crazy and dont make much since to me lol

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