SEO & ADA: Accessibility Meets Crawlability
February 5, 2021 |
November 16, 2020
A new website is an exciting time for you and your organization! Trust us, we underwent a website refresh and launch this year, and we’ll be the first to tell you as exciting as a new site is, a lot of work goes into the strategy, design, development, and of course, search engine optimization.
A beautiful new site that search engines can’t find is like throwing a birthday party and forgetting to send out the invitations. Don’t let your new site get left behind in organic traffic because you neglected SEO needs.
We’ve outlined 7 key SEO areas you may be forgetting about in your rollout that can negatively impact your new site’s performance.
First, your site needs to be designed for web browsers and mobile devices, but most importantly, for mobile. Why is that? Well, Google moved to mobile-first indexing when deciding how to rank search results. This means if your site is a nightmare to use on a mobile phone, you can kiss top rankings goodbye.
But how does this have anything to do with SEO? Isn’t this a design problem?
Yes and no. You should design your site for desktops, mobile devices, and tablets and ensure that your design and development team keeps this a priority. But, for SEO purposes, content and functionality should be consistent across devices. If you include specific content only on the desktop version, it won’t help you on your mobile version and, thus, won’t affect your rankings.
You’ve worked for weeks planning the perfect party, but you forgot to give your guests directions. Your party will still happen, but no one knows how to find it. In the same way, your content needs to give directions to help people locate it. Every single page on your website needs a title tag, meta description, and targeted keywords to help users and search engines locate it. Crafting content on your website is important, but it may not show up to the people searching for it without those last three finishing touches.
Your title tags are the first thing someone sees in search results, but if it’s too long, it’ll be cut off. Keep them short and sweet (55 to 60 characters long), making sure to include a clear, concise title, location of your business, and your company name. An example for us would be “Digital Marketing Strategy | Gainesville, FL | PHOS Creative.”
Additionally, meta descriptions support the title and provide more context for both the user and the search engine. Be sure to include your target keyword(s) in both the title and meta for maximum SEO value.
A sitemap gives a search engine the blueprints to your site, especially if you have blogs, resources, and landing pages that can’t be found right off the bat from your main navigation menu. Upon launching your site, the first thing you need to do is submit an XML sitemap file to search engines, not only Google. We also submit sitemaps to Bing too because Bing holds almost 36% of the US search engine share! That way, your site is now on search engines’ radars, and all of your pages are accounted for.
Within your site, you will have parent, child, and orphan pages. Parent pages are found in the main navigation, and if there are sub-pages under that main page, then those are children pages. Orphan pages exist independently and can only be accessed with direct links through internal linking within a webpage.
How does this affect SEO? It really depends on the URL structure. For example, https://phoscreative.com/our-process/inbound-marketing/ shows that our process is the parent page, and within the PHOS process, you can find our inbound marketing service.
This is especially useful when providing more context for your pages. If you are an HVAC company, you may have a main landing page for your air conditioning services, and underneath you’ll have pages for “repair, maintenance, and installation.” So, the AC Repair page could have the URL structure of “www.example.com/air-conditioning/repair” and, thus, gives context for search engines.
When migrating your old website to a new one, it gives you the perfect opportunity to do some spring cleaning. In the wise words of Marie Kondo, ask yourself, “Does this webpage, plug-in, or functionality spark joy?” Ok, maybe that blog post from 10 years ago sparks joy for you, but step into the shoes of your customer. Would they find it useful?
If it’s not helping your content strategy or garnering new leads, it’s best to box it up and trash it in the migration process. A new website is a fresh start, and if you carry over baggage from your old site, you’ll only be doing your organization a disservice.
If there’s one thing you absolutely cannot forget to do in your new website rollout, it’s 301 redirects. In short, a 301 redirect is created to take an old URL and direct it to the new one. This is essential if you plan to update your domain name (the main part of your URL), go by a new name, or change your webpages’ structure. When someone clicks on an old URL and a 301 redirect is triggered, the user is seamlessly taken to the new webpage, even if it’s a different URL.
The easiest way to do this is to crawl your old website with an SEO program (we recommend Screaming Frog) and then crawl your new website. Match up the URLs and if there are mismatched ones, create a list of the redirects.
Without a 301 redirect, a user will click on an old URL that does not exist on the new page and face a broken link or 404 error page. This is not good, and search engines penalize your site for every broken link that exists. A great way to monitor this post-launch is through Google Search Console.
Your website serves to attract, educate, and, eventually, convert users. The simpler it is for someone to move through those three phases, the more growth and success can be found. Not only is this important for your growth strategy, but it’s also important for SEO strategy. The more hurdles someone has to jump through, aka pages to navigate, the more likely a user will drop off. Engagement metrics are crucial to SEO success. If a site has a high bounce rate or exit rate, search engines penalize you because users do not find what they need and exit at rapid rates.
Keep your site engagement metrics healthy, and search engines will reward you because they know a user has a positive experience on your site. Three ways to foster this include:
Your new website isn’t just a pretty new digital storefront. Design and strategy need to merge to make a destination that attracts new users and converts them into raving fans. Our team at PHOS leverages strategy, thoughtful design and development, and a team of marketing experts that prioritizes search engine optimization into every single website we build. Explore this unique process and if you’re ready to upgrade your website, connect with us.