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So you have decided your website requires a much needed update and modernisation. Here are some essential tips before you take the plunge.
A redesign is the perfect time to look at the URL structure. It is known that many search engines look at the URLs and take these into account when ranking sites, so make sure the URLs are friendly, for example compare http://www.some-site.com/page.php?id=134524564 to http://www.some-site.com/site-section/page-title/ and you see that the URL can be made to contain the area of the site that you are in as well as the title of the page - much easier for a search engine to rank and easier for visitors as well.
If you do change the name or URL of a page make sure that the old URL redirects to the new page, you do not want broken links from sites linking to you or to be penalised by search engines if they have already indexed and ranked this page.
You know who visits your site, where they come and how they use your site right? If not this is the perfect time to analytics to your site. This can be either Google Analytics, the most popular web analytics program available where you have a small piece of code in all of your pages or something like Open Web Analytics or Piwiks, which is installed directly onto your web server. Of these give you invaluable information on how your site is being used.
The site map is a vital part of your site, containing links to all of your pages maing it easier for search enignes to crawl all of your pages and ensuring they get listed. This can be an actual page on your site, or more commonly it is an xml formatted document that sits on your web server and is checked by search engines for the list of pages.
A Call to Action is a goal for your website, be it purchasing an item, filling in a contact us form or signing up for a newsletter. Make it clear what you want your visitors to do, using large buttons to show the way and don't confuse with too many CTAs. Allow with Calls to Action, always make it easy for users to contact you - make a link available for your contact details on every page, or if appropriate include your phone number in an easy to see area.
Social media gives you the perfect opportunity to spread your message, and by integrating Social Media into your pages you offer an easy way for your visitors to share your content with others, increasing both your brand awareness and increasing the traffic to your site.
By adding news items, a blog about your business and just frequently updating your website can increase the rate in which search engines crawl your site and as long as that new content is relevant and unique this can help improve search engine ranking. New content also leads to greater sharing on Social Media sites.
Using some or all of these tips will help you create a more successful site than ever before.