Redesign Website - SEO problems related to website redesign
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Redesign Website - SEO problems related to website redesign

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Many businesses STILL don't have a website presence, but businesses which do often seek to redesign their existing website after a period of time.

This could be for many reasons, such as to keep up with current design styles, redevelop the website to improve functionality, improve search engine optimisation with better website construction, a change of management, or simply a change of branding.

Who you choose to rebuild your website is very important, not only from an aesthetic viewpoint, but SEO and coding standards should also be high on the list of skills brought to the table.

Unfortunately, many website designers do not seem to know how the search engines, or more importantly Google, work in so far as website indexing is concerned, so broken links and website speed can become big issues.

A recent SEO client (a national Australian company who shall remain nameless) has just completed a website rebuild and design. The site looks fantastic, and the content management system used is one of the best I've come across, not only from a usability aspect, but the SEO configuration panel is very simple to use, regardless if you are a novice or an expert.

Did you see this "but" coming? Even though the website development company involved professes to be knowledgeable in the area of search engine optimisation, there are two critical things they have done which leave me speechless.

Broken links - old website versus new website

Redesign Website - Broken Links My new client had over 200 pages in their old website with no broken links. Even though it was very SEO un-friendly, several of their main pages had PageRank, and more than 150 pages were indexed in Google.

After the website redesign, ALL Google links were "broken", no new pages had any PageRank retention processes in place, and all backlinks from other websites (and search engines) were broken as well. The home page of course retained its original PR, or PageRank, as well as its backlinks.

After I pointed this out to my client, they in turn asked the developer. The answer provided was "It doesn't matter - Google will eventually re-crawl the website and pick up the new pages."

HUH? Say what? An SEO person who says 150+ broken links in Google are unimportant? Can anyone else see a problem here? Also, as most people would know, PageRank is hard to come by these days, especially seeing as how most blogs, Facebook, Twitter etc. Etc. use the now common place "nofollow" tag, so how can preserving PageRank be unimportant?

If your goal is a website rebuild, be SURE to ask your developer what will happen to your old website links and PageRank - and DONíT be fooled - it IS important!

Website speed

Although website speed was not an issue with my client's old website, it was still very dated and VERY search engine unfriendly - but it was quite fast. Now the new website uses a home page which is about 1.5 megabytes in total (counting all files downloaded)!

You may have heard that Google recently stated quite clearly that website or web page speed is just one more parameter which has been added to their search algorithm.

Admittedly, sometimes you can't avoid a large page (download wise), however there are measures a developer can take to reduce the load on both the server and visitors' bandwidth usage - thus making your site seem just that little bit faster.

For a start, you can compress the page itself. Even text can be compressed using server-side scripting (htaccess) or scripting within the page itself.

Webpage Speed

Next, there are images. Images should be clear and sharp, but not be so large as to impede the download speed of your web page. They can be compressed to a point where it is a balance between speed and quality.

Still with images, file type selection is important as well. DO NOT use .png format for photos for example, and DO NOT use .jpeg format for logos (or graphics) with few colours (due to "washout" when compressed).

One final comment re images, whatever you do, DO NOT use an image with (for example) the dimensions of 1280 pixels by 700 pixels, and then proceed to scale the image using html size parameters so it fits into the page. Youíll end up with an image which weighs in at a hefty 600kb plus, when it SHOULD be a mere 40kb.

Oh, and if you have a great video to add to your page, DO NOT set it to auto-play. Ensure it is clear to visitors it's a video, and use a placeholder, or screen grab for the video's initial display on your site. I HATE it when I visit a site and there is a huge video file stealing my bandwidth - often one I have no interest in watching.

In summary, it is a lot easier (and far less expensive) to do these things correctly in the first place, than have to go back later and fix them, so make sure your developer is familiar with the intricacies of SEO and construction.

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Rob - JustWeb

26.05.2010


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