Thinking of redesigning your website? Think SEO first!

By Jeremy Eisenberg - February 19, 2014

Imagine this: You just spent $2000 on your company's beautiful new website, you love it; even your boss loves it. He just asks you to hire a SEO consultant to give it a quick check-over before you go live. The SEO consultant gets back to you with this:

How Google and search engines see images on a website

This is how Google see your site when it comes to visit - and it is not going to be impressed.

Start Web Design with SEO in mind

Actually this article should be titled why an SEO company with a web designer should build your website...

Let me give you an example. Recently I was contacted by a couple of businesses in the design field. Obviously they are very visually focused. They have been around for quite some time, are well known and cater to the high-end market. Their websites need to reflect their brand identity and create a certain feeling for the visitor coming to the site. Their current website is over 5 years old, Flash based and outdated.

So, it'ts time for a website update, correct? They call their web designer and get creative how everything should look. The web designer is amazing with the look & feel of the graphics but has no knowledge (or care) for SEO. Maybe it was the same one who built it years ago with all the flash animation, splash pages, moving gifs and bells & whistles that web designers loved to use, or someone new who really focuses on the design. Most, if not all, web designers today know not to use all Flash and JavaScript when building a site.

There are even some web "designers" who are building websites with Wix of all things. Seriously, Wix, and charging people money for it. Come on, HTML isn't exactly an elitist nerd code, and with wonderful CMS systems out there like WordPress there is no need hard-code an entire site in HTML. Simply put, the easier you make it to indexed, the easier you will be indexed.

97% Branded Traffic

So... now the page is actually built using mostly HTML, and can now actually be indexed by a search engine (hurray!) and can even be found for a keyword, well maybe not a keyword ... but their brand.

Why only for the brand? Since (in this scenario) the site was built mostly for visuals , there is little to no text and a lot of pictures to create a non-cluttered, clean look: lots of pictures with nothing behind them.

So a search for their product or service will not bring up their webpage until page 23. A search for their brand name will get them on page 1, but they want searchers who don't know about them. And here lies the problem, now they have a very nice looking website that a lot of time and money were invested into, and now at the very end of the project someone starts to think about SEO.

Hummingbird and Where SEO Comes into Play

Magic SEO Button Blue
Of course the same old battle cries are asked of the SEO; more traffic, first page on Google for 20 keywords (none of them branded), HUGE ROI, past results to prove you can do it, etc. Oh and they don't want to change anything on the design, put any work into the website, blog, advertise or change how they do social media. And the expectation is that after I push a magic Google button they will get on first page in a week or two, and if they don't then I failed.

Okay, so enough with the boring life of an SEO, these companies are still facing the same challenges with their new website as with the old, like traffic, rankings and ROI.

And sometime between late September to November they noticed a huge drop in traffic. Why then? Because that is when Hummingbird, which was a major overhaul to Google's algorithm took effect.

It was like going from a gas powered V-8 engine to a good thought powered hovercraft.

Over are the times where you did better if you just push more fuel (quality backlinks, quality content, authority etc.). Now the new fuel (a.k.a. content) needs to be more refined, in sync with how people search today.

That's why Hummingbird even shook things up for websites that had lots of good original content, knocking them down in the SERP's. And it hit really hard on outdated sites with little content, no matter how popular they were.

Web Designer vs. Graphic Designer

And that's where hiring a web designer, not a graphic designer, who works for or with an SEO company is vital when doing a redesign - or a brand new website. At the very least an SEO consultant should be hired at the beginning instead of end of the redesign process, so that the first suggestion isn't to redesign the site.

That's why (shameless plug coming) here at Organic SEO Press when we design a website, we only use WordPress, with the Genesis framework to assure not only a great sound technical start to SEO, but overall design and functionality. WordPress makes it easy to update, blog and keep your site active (which Google loves) and Genesis gives you functionality that rarely has conflicts with any well written plugin. We also put on basic and advanced SEO tools like the Yoast plugins. Take a look at our portfolio page to see some examples of our work.
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