Just in the past three months, I had two clients including a luxury brand with critical mistakes that would be easily caught by even the SEO beginner.
Or the guy that paid a developer for their bespoke code and altered the WordPress CMS to the point of being virtually impossible to be edited by anyone else, then disappear from the radar completely.
Search Console Dashboard Traffic Drop From Website Redesign
At what stage should you involve an SEO consultant in the website redesign process? Or design for that matter.
Here are a few possible answers and time frames in order of priority.
Get your SEO involved ASAP
If SEO is a consideration and it should be in most cases, you should involve the SEO as early as possible, while a developer and other web experts may possess some of the knowledge to help with various aspects of SEO. Only an actual SEO expert with considerable experience will be able to audit and advise on the full SEO picture and a strategy to go with it.
At the same time as the designer/developer
These are probably the best options in terms of maximising the inclusion of SEO in all aspects of the redesign, which includes website architecture and taxonomy, the way your site is organised and structured can make or break the chances of success.
Below are some of the things to consider, not an exhaustive list by any stretch of the imagination.
The selection of an open source or bespoke CMS, content management system
Ensuring your open source CMS is still open and easily editable
Selecting a template or bespoke design/code
Selecting a hosting provider and server type
Making sure content maximises SEO
Ensuring images are accessible, usable and named properly
Maintaining link equity
Mobile standards and mobile SEO
Redirecting all 404 pages to the homepage (don’t do it)
Having a poor 404 page itself when is working as it should be
Redirecting most or all pages that aren’t carried to the new site to the homepage (don’t do it)
Also, if your SEO is not done by the same company or team as your developer, almost without fail your web developer will either tell you not to involve an SEO or to do it when the site is launched, by which time without fail there will be SEO mistakes that are undoable. You can take that as gospel.
You may be thinking if we have the list above and any other lists of common issues will the developer not be able to use these and avoid any pitfalls?
The answer is yes to some extent, but the number and complexity of issues is such that only an SEO will have the expertise and hopefully the experience to audit all these and advise accordingly.
A month before launching the new site
We were called to bid on SEO for two major sites recently (3500 and 50000+ pages) that came with the open line, we had a new site built and we are now ready to launch and do SEO.
For big sites, you may even want to involve two different SEOs or SEO companies and have them both auditing the site at least a month before launching the new site. A month is about the least amount of time to get a full SEO audit done, after launching the new site, some or even most of the technical audit data may be hard, harder or impossible to do to the same extent as when the site is still in operation.
Timeline of site redesign with no SEO considerations
I lost count of how many sites I was called to audit and to the apparent surprise of everyone involved, the new site was launched and the rankings and traffic had tanked massively or even completely.
Involve the SEO after launch
If you are at this stage, by all means, do so, it is better later than never. However, if you are at any of the research, planning or redevelopment phases, do it NOW, not later.
Pedro specialises in SEO and WordPress, with 15 years in digital including various agencies, academia and running a very successful SEO consultancy since 2010. Pedro his an avid 10K runner and enjoys escaping to the sun, volcanoes and squash.
SEO, paid search and content marketing boutique specialising in long-term strategies.