SEO is often overlooked in the excitement of building a new website but not thinking about it during this process can be a recipe for disaster.
When designing a new website many business owners entrust all of their web presence to a single point of contact which in most cases is a website design agency. This is fine if the agency has an experienced in-house team who can take care of the SEO.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case and it should never be assumed that just because the agency has an expert team of developers and designers, they can also turn their hands to search engine optimisation as well. (At least not in my experience)
SEO should be treated separately because it is a specialist area. Yet despite being probably the most important part of online lead generation it is still relegated to an optional extra that doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
Never more is this mistaken view of SEO more apparent than in a site migration gone wrong. Here are the most common SEO errors made when migrating or launching a new website.
Failing to record indexed pages
This applies very much to website migrations and is probably the biggest mistake of all. If your website has history it will have keywords ranking in either local or national search results. Many of these keywords are likely to be bringing in traffic and certain pages within a website are going to be ranking for those keywords. If those indexed pages are not recorded or redirected, then it will be very difficult to find which page urls were ranking for keywords when they are replaced with new ones.
No keyword ranking audit
Again, this applies to site migrations. Along with collecting all the indexed pages it makes for a much smoother transition to have records of keyword rankings before and after so you can compare performance. If traffic takes a dip when a new site is launched, then you can find and pinpoint those pages that are not performing as well as they were before in the search results.
Wholesale changes of website structure
Quite often during a website migration, those working on the project will refresh the entire structure of the website along with changes to all the website urls. Yes 301 redirects will be put in place if the web developer is competent but even when these redirects are put in place it will take time for Google to crawl the new urls and find its way around the new site structure and this can result in dips in traffic for months afterwards as keyword rankings are lost. While it is fine to change the structure doing both at once is not advisable in my experience.
Poor site planning
Business owners like to take control of their site planning but the best results happen when the site owner works with their SEO person to come up with a siteplan and navigation that closely matches their primary keyword targets. Yet all too often the process is done by guess work. There are plenty of tools out there to research traffic volume that are rarely used. Google keyword planner is a free one to start with. Failing to do research into keyword traffic volume means the site structure is built on guess work which can mean it is poorly targeted at keywords or too generic to rank for. It is far better to have those prime keyword targets featuring in the menu and navigation than keywords that sound nice but have little search traffic.
Not doing an SEO audit on the new website
Just as SEO should be included at the start of a new website project, involvement doesn’t end there. An audit should be done following the launch of the new site to ensure all the 301 redirects are in place and there are no issues that may impact on SEO in the future such as high numbers of 404 error pages.
Failing to do a link audit
This can be linked to failing poor site restructuring and failing to redirect pages. Often a site will have large numbers of internal links to specific pages. When a new site is created, all to often these links will be lost when urls change which can also have an impact on search rankings. Auditing links internal links on large website will require specialist tools and the help of a competent SEO to find the broken links and redirect to the correct destinations.
Not connecting Google Analytics and Search Console
This remains an all to common mistake when people are migrating or launching websites. Some website owners will forget they already have accounts linked or their previous webmaster has done a runner with their login details. Sometimes a the new website url isn’t connected meaning valuable data is lost for months at a time. Google Analytics provides substantial data on the most popular website pages and traffic while search console will identify performance issues which can help solve a lot of the common SEO issues.