WEBSITE OVERHAUL – SEO CRITICALITY

KNOW WHAT YOU WANT BUT TEMPER YOUR EXPECTATIONS ACCORDINGLY

At some time or other every business will have to think about a website overhaul. It can be a daunting prospect. Whether the requirement is just to freshen content or to completely revamp a site, a key consideration is going to be preserving your SEO ranking. Of course in writing this guide its worth considering that to get a perfect score on all of these issue your designer is going to have to spend time making it happen. Therefore, the concept of cost and value need to be factored into our thinking and a client’s expectations. If you are a medium sized business aiming for a highly professional website and have a suitable budget, then you ought to include everything we are suggesting here. But the concept of satisfying a customer who wants an e shop to offer the same functionality as amazon.com and contain almost as many products, for the price of an A5 flyer, is something most developers have to contend with from time to time.

WHICH AUDIENCE?

As our SEO Guru, we just call him Dave, likes to remind our marketers: content is written for two audiences, a) real people and b) search engine robots. You ignore either of these key targets at your peril. And yet it is a frighteningly common occurrence to find the latter is often disregarded. At Azzurro-Blu all of our Marketers are required to do some basic coding and SEO training to ensure their interface with our SEO specialists are more meaningful. We also give our developers regular marketing courses to make sure the process works both ways. For the purpose of this article we are going to focus largely on the SEO aspect. So with that in mind it is worth remembering that what we are really talking about here is constructing data to ensure that a website is found and ranked in as positive a manner as possible by search engines.

USE A COMPETENT DESIGNER

Ask if they have a plan! Most competent SEO practitioners will be well ranked themselves. Assure yourself that they are there by design and not by default. A good web development company will be able to optimise your performance by using specific techniques under a planned strategy. Perhaps the company you are looking at had some expertise in the past but that expertise left a long time ago. Make sure you get a strategy and that the web developer knows what he is talking about. Check their content: content is a key component in building SEO performance. But just as importantly it is key to persuading real customers that you are a credible business. Look at the content of your prospective web designer: Is it well written? Does it make sense? Does it represent brand values effectively? Would you want this company writing your content? There is a balance: remember there is a balance to be struck. For example, if you want a great video to communicate what you are about to be the first thing visitors see that is a less effective SEO technique that text based key words. The ideal phrasing for your concept positioning and branding is unlikely to be the perfect SEO selection. But the SEO inputs can be accommodated in other ways. Conversion Rate Issues: customer experience is of course important. A fast page delivery speed is nice to have. If your web site is more biased towards on-line sales this feature will be more important than a web site whose purpose is converting targets over a longer sales cycle. This isn’t really and SEO issue but gets brought up from time to time.

SOCIAL MEDIA AND NEWS

Take the opportunity to add Social Media Content and in particular news content. Although this is an activity that in general sits further down the SEO priority list, its importance is growing. Of more importance at this time is the need for up-to-date news pages or blogs. This will give you the opportunity to refresh content regularly in a simple effective manner. If you want something more complex you might want to consider a Social Wall. The volume and quality of the information you produce on Social Media will ultimately have a bearing on your SEO but is also more important for marketing to real people as opposed to SEO Bots. KEEP YOUR DOMAIN NAME Be wary about changing your domain name. Unless you have a good reason for changing your domain name you should think about keeping it. Aged domains as a general rule have a higher intrinsic value. Trust flow, citation flow, and domain authority are key metrics that are more likely to score higher on aged domains. Whilst there are techniques our programmers can use to protect some of these features where someone wants to move to a new domain name – it is a decision that should not be taken lightly. New domain names can carry hidden risks and you should evaluate the various items of relative value before making this decision. Your web designer should have access to specific tools that conduct this complex analysis quickly and effectively. Check that they do.

MONITOR PERFORANCE

Ensure that you have a record of current performance for each page that can be used to compare future performance. What you web developer should do is lovingly re-create the URL for each page to protect your SEO value for that page. Many don’t because it can be a painstaking process. You really want this to be part of the plan – unless of course there is limited value to the pages in question, or you can’t justify the expenditure.

CHECK ALT TAGS

We strongly recommend that you make effective use alt tags or alt text throughout your website. Whilst this may not seem too important it can have a marked impact on SEO performance. Alt tags are an overlooked aspect of web design, they can easily be forgotten whether you are building a brand new website from scratch or conducting a rebranding effort. Please ensure that your use of these tags is uniform throughout your site, accompanying all images regardless of how prominent or subtle. (Avoid images where the text is part of the image if you can.) Best practices for alt tags require you keep such text specific and brief. Describe the image clearly and precisely, and avoid the temptation to use this as an opportunity to plant key words. Keyword misuse is a hazardous activity, so we recommend you avoid it to protect future SEO performance.

STRUCTURE

Anyone who has ever used a website understands the importance of ease of navigation. It is a key aspect of the customer journey. But what you may not know is that ineffective navigation and poor website structure can affect your SEO performance. Even small changes can have an impact on your performance. As they say. “it’s easy when you know how”. But the knowing is the key. In determining an effective structure, you will want to know
  • why users visit your site,
  • what search terms they used to get there, and
  • how they interacted once they arrived.
Important pages full of relevant information for users must be easy to locate and take the customer journey into account. When you walk into a major store, some marketer has thought about your customer journey. It is just as important on a website – perhaps more so.

URL’a

Please ensure that URL’s follow a structured approach that mirrors your navigation plan. For example, a visitor should be able to look at the URL www.technolag.com/gaming/totalwar, to know that on the TechnolAG website they can click on the gaming menu and then the totalwar submenu to get to the same page.

INTERNAL LINKS

Consideration needs to be given to internal linking that locates high-ranking pages throughout your website, rather than locking them into one area. Every page on your site should have and internal link to somewhere. But note that there has to be a logic to the use of links and the content used. Poor linking and illogical content is similar to keyword stuffing and can harm your SEO performance. Beyond SEO focus, effective internal linking allows you to guide the customer through the site in a way that prepares them for purchase.

ENGANGEMENT DATA

It is a feature that can be overlooked. A high bounce rate might be telling you something important. Unless you are a site that gets hit by mistaken visitors (and this can happen to certain sites for different reasons), a high bounce rate might mean:
  • poor user engagement
  • lack of clarity
  • lack of information
  • pricing or value challenges
Some of these questions will be dealt with in your marketing plan and so from a web-design point of view a) to c) are issues to address with the designer. Providing high-quality content on your site is one of the clearest paths to effective SEO performance, and your bounce rate might shed some light on how well you are doing on that issue. High quality, and changing content are issues that our Marketers and SEO team can agree on since they align to connect the requirements of both customers search engine metrics.

CONCLUSION

There is a lot to think about when undertaking a web re-vamp. Make sure you get a professional job done and include the considerations we have highlighted above. Without these considerations you are only getting half a job done. At Azzurro-Blu this is part of our process. Make sure you get the same service. If you are a web developer without detailed SEO support talk to us to find out how we can help you and your customer.

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6 Hints to Improving your Web Development Skills

The Web Development industry is ever changing and as a developer it is important to stay ahead of the game. Every day holds a different opportunity to learn and develop, it’s what you do to develop your skills and experience that is important.

You could be the best, most experienced web developer in the world or just starting out. Where ever you are in your web developing career, to grow you have to continually strive to optimise your skills.

We’ve put together 5 great tips to follow that are sure to improve your web development skills. Check them out.

1. Code Regularly

Just like any skill, by practising everyday you’ll improve. And coding is no different, the more you practice on a daily basis the better you will become. In doing this you will pick up on mistakes more easily as well as improving on your typing skills.

And while your practicing writing code anyway it wouldn’t hurt to get to know your favourite code editor in more detail. Learning shortcuts would save you more time in the long run and try using it without relying on your mouse or trackpad. Getting to know all the features within your main tool will enable you to become more proactive. You’ll be amazed with the results.

2. Get Involved with Open-Source Projects

Immerse yourself in code with open-source projects from places like GitHub. Open Source projects such as GitHub allows you to choose to fork an existing project and create your iteration of it. You can also assist with existing projects where you can offer your skills and experience to help get the project to its final stages or fix minor bugs to improve a projects stability.

Open-source projects have many options for you to choose from, options that lead to gaining a better understanding of code. It also allows you to learn code from others who might show you different ways of doing things.

And on top of all these great reasons why you should use open-source projects here’s another one. You get to collaborate with others on some great and exciting projects which if anything else gives you another pair of eyes on your code.

3. Pass on your Knowledge

You may not see yourself as a writer but believe it or not writing is a great way in which you can continue to learn. Writing about code of course, you can teach people of your knowledge through blogs for example. Not only is writing blogs a good way to continue learning but it also increases your visibility and positions you as an expert within the web developing field.

4. Learn Something New

The web has an abundance of knowledge at your fingertips. There is no shortage of great tutorials in which web developers can learn and expand their knowledge. Staying within your comfort is a danger in the web development industry. Trends are continuously changing and adapting and you have to do the same.

Learn something new. If you are a WordPress theme developer for example, you could try creating a plugin. A software developer maybe working with apps? You could give mobile app development a try. We understand that dabbling in tutorials here and there won’t transform you into a master but it does follow the principle of being immersed in code on a daily basis. Never a bad thing.

5. Take Breaks

Coding every day is hard work, it’s important to take yourself out with the world of coding now and again, a few breaks to recuperate. It’s beneficial to be proactive of course but it’s just as beneficial to spend time not producing anything. Sometimes this can end up being more productive.

Working constantly isn’t good. It can not only affect your health but affect your quality of work. Resulting or what may result in sloppy code, missed deadlines, and more importantly missed opportunities. If you work too hard you run the risk of burning yourself out leading to stress which can ultimately lead to your inability to think clearly or to solve problems. This is why it is essential to take regular breaks, some downtime to gather your thoughts.

6. The Code you Write Has a Purpose

Knowing what the purpose is in advance will optimise your efforts. Don’t be afraid to stand up to the marketers and ensure that your technical parameters find a place in defining the purpose.

Within the web developing industry you have to remember that languages come and go. Although this is a good reason to learn about as many languages and trends as possible, you’ll become a lot better at code if you spent more time mastering the fundamentals.

Many new trends come on the scene weekly if not daily but the truth is the basic fundamentals never change. Make yourself more familiar with the underlying architecture and once you’ve mastered that learning a new language becomes a lot easier.

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