Avoiding SEO Problems When You Change Your Website

Are you concerned about running into problems with SEO for your Bay Area website if you make changes? Every now and then, a webmaster looks at his or her web site and decides it is time for a change. While change can certainly be a good thing – fresh content and a fresh look can add interest – it can also be a bad thing if SEO is not considered while redesigning the site. SEO problems can be avoided by paying attention to a few factors and being careful to use the tools available.

Web developers who know about SEO will first consider the SEO impact that changes can make. When a site is already ranking in a search engine, changing the URLs or deleting content that has been indexed can cause that ranking to take a serious hit.

If the URLs are changed, but the content remains similar or the same, the SEO hit can be mitigated by using a 301 redirect. This tells the search engines that the page still exists, just in a different location. This preserves the age and rank of the pages in question.

Knowing the site – its structure and content – will aid in succeeding as you change a site while preserving the SEO. Structure, URLs, and meta data are all important factors that provide tools to match up a redesign with the original site. There are tools such as Screaming Frog that simplify this process by gathering the information into one place, so it does not have to be done manually.

Some of the things that you will need to check to make sure everything is properly filled in and ready for the search engines include: no missing page titles, page titles that are all different, page titles between 200 and 512 pixels, H1 tags that are missing or duplicate, more than one H1 tag per page, meta data that is missing or duplicated, descriptions that are too long, canonical tags and links, broken links, and alt text for images.

Perhaps limiting titles by pixels is a new concept; most people consider characters rather than pixels. 512 pixels, less about 12 for ellipses if it goes over, translate into about 70 characters. More than this will result in the page title being truncated – sometimes resulting in a less than comprehensible title.

Also important are the sitemap, robots.txt, speed and performance of the site, and duplicate content. Checking these things can help you to know what is working well and what needs to be improved.

Broken links are always a red flag for SEO purposes, so it is wise to check those regularly, but especially when redesigning. It is important that both internal and external links are valid and resolve to a quality site. There are tools available to aid in testing both kinds of links on the site, as well. If there are broken links, or links that go to sites that are not considered to be ‘quality,’ you will want to fix these issues before making the changes to your website live.

If it is preferred, a company such as Bay Area Online Marketing can be hired to handle the redesign and preserve or improve the SEO on the site. Contact us for more information.