In times of digitization, a corporate website can not only serve as a mere information platform; it is the centerpiece of your brand on which all social media activities are focused, an important sales channel and, ideally, used as an interactive dialogue with your customers. Therefore, a restructuring of the website cannot just be done as an aside. The fact that a product page must offer a contact option or that the website is not allowed to read like a user manual is now clear to most companies. But what else needs to be considered in order to make your relaunch successful and prevent a disaster in ranking and traffic?
1. Sorry, page not found
A user has saved your product page in the history and calls the corresponding URL. Unfortunately, after the relaunch you have not redirected to your new product page and thus the customer comes to a dead end. Search engines also take some time to complete indexing of your new pages. That’s why setting up redirects is the best way for the traffic on your website not to completely plummet.
A so-called “301 redirect” has the advantage that you can secure the stream of visitors from your best-ranked pages and continue to direct backlinks from external sites to your offer. Thus, links that are important for a ranking are not lost. In addition, your visitors will not be scared by 404 error messages.
When configuring redirects, avoid long messaging chains. This happens when a redirect leads to the destination URL for which a redirect to a new URL is configured again, and the process continues. Try not to use more than 3 redirects in a chain, otherwise there is a threat of being thrown out of the index. For technically demanding sites that require complex redirect solutions, we at portrino have developed a Typo3 extension for automated redirects.
By the way, even if you find it very time-consuming to set a redirect for each single page, you should avoid directing old pages to the new homepage. For simplicity, this solution is often chosen but you must be prepared for additional losses in the ranking.
2. Lost in the Internet
Due to digitization and the overabundance of online media, people’s attention span has declined more and more over the last few years. Therefore, your product or service page should have technically appealing but also concise texts that quickly filter out your distinguishing features and the advantages of your offer. To process more detailed information, many companies today offer additional information brochures. FAQs or white papers are a great way to provide the user with more compact information and access the contact details of potential customers.
Unfortunately, this is often neglected. Even the most appealing brochure makes no sense if it is not found. So be sure not to let your info docs disappear into the download box at the bottom of the page. Link the brochures, which cost you a lot of time and in most cases a lot of budget, in the web content. Make references from other services and offer pages to the documents. You can also use newsletters or social media channels to actively promote them.
Important: Work out a system in which older documents are replaced by newer versions. Nothing is worse than an outdated price list or misinformation in a PDF that is still found by Google, even though it is no longer linked to the text. Therefore, a redirect to the new document should be set up (ideally also for deleted documents), or the old one should be replaced with the exact same name.
Remember: For fast web viewing, select “Documents” in the Adobe Acrobat dialog box under “Default settings” and “Categories”. In the “Save settings” dialog box, click “Save as optimized for fast web display” to ensure that the document is optimally displayed for the user in the browser area.
3. Don’t forget the meta-level
Adding metadata to any file often becomes an annoying compulsory task. However, for SEO optimization, meta descriptions are extremely important. In the web text, make sure that your offer is displayed professionally in the search results, including a title and a description. With the search result, the user knows which information they can expect on your website.
The meta descriptions of images or graphics are often forgotten and unfortunately become the famous needle in a haystack. Search engines cannot select the content of your images and draw on meta descriptions, ensuring that your visuals are displayed in the image search. Therefore, never forget to always include them with an ALT tag.
PDF’s have an impact on your Google ranking, and metadata is also read by search engines. A good program for the meta optimization of PDF files is BeCyPDFMetaEdit. Alternatively, the metadata can also be generated with the graphical design of your online docs using, for example, Adobe InDesign or Adobe Photoshop.
4. “I never read, I just look at pictures.”
What was once true of Andy Warhol’s perception is also applicable to typical user behavior. How often do you read an article that does not offer you an aesthetic invitation through its design or attractive images? The likelihood is that you will jump to the next page after a few seconds. The good news: if a user finds themselves on your homepage, one can assume that they are basically interested in your offer or products. But it is no secret that the visual influences the buying decision to a considerable extent and the aesthetic perception itself can be decisive in deciding for your or a competing offer. Are you a provider of modern, technical solutions but still use an old stock photo CD from the 90’s? Then it’s time to clean up and use current photo databases for your homepage.
If you offer products or services that require complex content, be sure to use visual content, such as info graphics. They belong to the small 1 x 1 of the classical content marketing, since they make multilayered content intelligible and quickly understandable.
Consistently represent your high-quality offer with your pictures and graphics! If you suddenly need to go fast or without budget, you can use free photo databases. Pixabay offers free images without royalties, and one can forego the declaration of copyrights. Attention: the quality varies greatly. Therefore, you should select several pictures and let some employees vote on which ones to use.
5. Give me link juice!
The generation of internal links is part of the professional on-page optimization. If the page or navigation structure changes during a website relaunch, many internal links have to be reset. A “strong” internal linking structure is important as it makes it easier for search engine crawlers. The crawler follows every link to get an overall view of the page. This allows all relevant pages to be quickly indexed. On the other hand, small changes to a page or navigation structure can lead to numerous pages losing many links as part of a website relaunch. This can quickly lead to traffic and revenue losses. Therefore, it is important to actively build an internal linking structure. At the end of your product or offer description, for example, configure a “You might also be interested” module to link to other interesting offers in your portfolio.
In the course of your relaunch, keep an eye on all internal links of your pages, so that no broken links sneak in which penalize your page and endanger your ranking. Are there any outdated links in the header or footer area? Do navigation pages still refer to old services or offers? Keep this in mind, for example, with a broken link checker.
By the way, inform your customers and partners about changed links when they refer to your offers and services.
Last but not least:
Do not consider your relaunch project completed with the go-live of your new website. The success of the restructuring is not visible in the first few weeks, so remain calm should there be any temporary ranking and traffic losses. It is important from the outset, however, to keep an eye on what is happening with targeted monitoring and, of course, to observe our above-mentioned tips.
Then the desired and long-term success can ensue!
Do you need tips or a consultation on your website relaunch? We are happy to help you!