Necessity is the mother of invention…and of reinvention. If your current website and marketing content aren’t producing results, it might be time to rebrand your buiness by rebuilding your site. A reboot—a new domain name, a new visual look and feel and, of course, new content—can be a breath of fresh air for your customers (and for your revenue). It’s a completely normal step that startup leaders take all the time.
But remember: if you’re going to go to the trouble and cost of a revamped website, you need to have a new plan for search engine optimization (SEO) as well.
SEO has come a long way over the last 15 years. Google searches have been a fundamental part of the way we all use the internet since the turn of the 21st century, but we’re still evolving in terms of how we search—and how we design content that will attract those searches. Here’s what you need to know about rebooting your SEO strategy along with your website.
A New Strategy for a New URL
Typically, the first step toward launching a new website is introducing a new domain name. After all, your URL is the first thing people see when they encounter your site, so a new address represents a fresh start.
“Typically, the first step toward launching a new website is introducing a new domain name.”
A word of caution, though—rolling out a new URL may introduce difficulties with SEO. Stephan Spencer, co-author of The Art of SEO, notes in “Relaunching Your Site? Don’t Even Think About It Without a Solid SEO Game Plan!” that search engine results tend to reflect user habits. Users may not click on unfamiliar domain names or those that don’t include their search keywords, so it can take a while to re-establish traffic.
It’s the same with the search engine itself. “Google looks at the overall domain age and link equity when ranking a given site, and changing your site’s URL will impact both of these metrics,” Spencer explains. “If you deem it necessary to relaunch your site on a new domain, tread carefully. Ask yourself if changing to the new domain is worth the potential short- to medium-term disruption in search traffic.”
A Tighter Focus on Mobile Search
If you do decide to introduce a new site with its own distinct address, you should be aware—the same strategies you used to attract visitors circa 2010 won’t work anymore. The biggest difference now is the importance of mobile traffic, according to The Next Web.
In “7 SEO Strategies to Implement in 2015: Best Practices for Maximum Searchability,” Mackensie Graham cites survey results from GlobalWebIndex. Among the key findings: 80% of adults now have a smartphone, the average amount of time spent on mobile is 1.85 hours per day, and the average frequency of web browsing on mobile versus other platforms is 50%.
Add it all up, and the answer is clear.
“Your mobile site, now more than ever, needs to be equal in presence, content, and searchability as your desktop site,” Graham emphasizes. “Plus, having a mobile-friendly site boosts your ranking slightly from the get-go before diving deep into updates.”
An Innovative Approach to Keywords
Keywords have long been a fundamental aspect of building an SEO strategy. They’re still important, to be sure, but the specific tactics of using keywords have changed in recent years.
Shadesdaddy.com CEO Pablo Palatni writes in his Forbes article “The 6 Basic Components Of A Strong SEO Strategy For Online Retailers” that it’s wise to use a mix of shorter keywords, which can be more general and have mass appeal, and longer ones, which can target the specific niche of consumer you’re going for.
“If you notice that some keywords are too competitive in your niche, go with long-tail keywords (between two and five words) which will be easier for you to rank,” Palatnik recommends. “The longer the keyword, the less competition you will have for that phrase in the engines.”
Chances are, you’re relaunching your site with two different goals in mind: to increase general awareness about your brand, and to drive interest in specific products and really hone in on sales. Consider using a different set of keywords for each purpose.
The Ultimate Goal: ROI
As you go about revamping your site, you’ve probably got some big ideas about what end goals you hope to achieve. For example, you might be hoping to climb high atop the search engine rankings against your competitors.
“Which is better—a no. 1 search-engine ranking, or a real $20,000 increase in your company’s monthly revenues?”
It’s important not lose sight of your real goal—revenue. You’re putting a lot of time and money into your site redesign. You want to be sure you see a return on that investment, notes Jonathan Long, founder and CEO of Market Domination Media.
Long poses an interesting question in his Entrepreneur article “6 Changes Your 2015 SEO Strategy Must Focus On.” Which is better, a no. 1 search-engine ranking, or a real $20,000 increase in your company’s monthly revenues? It’s no contest.
“If you are a business owner spending money every month on SEO, what would you rather hear from your SEO agency? ‘Congratulations, you are ranking number one for buy blue widgets online but we aren’t sure what that translates into dollar wise’ or ‘The infographic that we published last month resulted in earning 67 links and it was also responsible for 45 conversions and $22,480 in revenue’? Do you want a fancy PDF ranking report or do you want to know what your return on investment was?”
A high search-engine ranking does you little good if it’s not accompanied by sales.
How You Can Get Started
Redesigning a site requires rewriting your SEO playbook. Here’s how to begin:
- If your site has a new name and a new URL, be prepared to start over from scratch with building traffic.
- Be sure to optimize for mobile to effectively reach 50% of all traffic.
- Mix up your keyword strategy. Try a combination of short, generic terms and specific long-tail phrases.
- Finally, remember that ROI is the ultimate goal. You’ve made a big investment in relaunching your site, and you want it to pay off.