2020-08-12-maintain-search-engine-optimization-updating-website

How to Keep Your SEO in Check When You’re Updating Your Own Website

Making sure that customers can find your website online consistently is one of the most important things to consider after launch.  Search engine optimization is not a “set it and forget it” feature to your website; it requires nurturing and maintenance to ensure it continues to reach Google/Bing/other search engine searchers. Whether you’ve recently launched your website, or you’re planning on making some changes in the future, ensuring that you maintain search engine optimization on every web page should be on your list of important tasks.

How to Maintain Search Engine Optimization on Your Website

You probably already know that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is how you ensure that your site will be found by current and potential customers online. When your customers search for terms related to your products, services, or areas of expertise, having good SEO on all of your web pages will ensure that they see your website at a higher position on Google’s search engine results pages (aka SERPs).

But, how do you make sure that your new website stays optimized for search engines when you’re making changes? There’s a lot more to maintaining good SEO than meets the eye, but there are a few basic things to keep in mind. Let’s dive into some common changes that you might make to your site and how you can ensure that you maintain search engine optimization when making those changes on your site.

1. Find out what you have access to

When you first start working with a web designer, make sure you determine whether your website will be created with a Content Management System (CMS). If your site is built with a content management system, making changes to your content post-launch will typically be quick and easy. Speak to your designer about the features you’ll have access to via your CMS; they may need to grant you special permissions.

If your website is hosted on a platform such as Wix or Squarespace, you may be limited to the SEO items you can control on your website.

A lot of work goes into setting up on-page SEO, so if you don’t want to harm your hard-earned search rankings, you’ll want to stay consistent with good optimization practices after your site launches.

2. Adding images to your site

Adding new images to your website is almost always a given, but before you simply add the file and hit the upload button, make sure your new image adheres to SEO best practices.

When adding an image to your site, ensure that the file is optimized for screens. If you upload a stock image, don’t upload the maximum size just because it looks nice and crisp; you’ll bog down the load speed of your page. Use a tool like TinyPNG to optimize your image sizes to minimize load times for users.

Image sizing isn’t the only thing you need to think about when uploading to your site. You’ll also want to understand alt tags and how they affect your SEO. An alt tag is a basic description of an image that serves two primary purposes. The first has to do with SEO: adding an effective alt tag on your image will add to the page’s SEO, and also show up in Google Image Search. The second purpose of image alt tags is to assist the visually impaired. Software that aids the visually impaired will read back alt tags to describe images, making your website experience more accessible.

Your CMS will likely have a place for you to enter image alt tags. Make sure that your image alt tags describe the images that you are uploading accurately, and contain keywords that your customers are searching on Google.

2020-08-12-maintain-search-engine-optimization-alt-tag-example

[Example of alt tag entry. This is using the WordPress CMS platform.]

3. Creating new pages

Maintain good SEO on your pages by following a standardized URL naming system. Your web designer may have given you documentation for doing so when they created your site’s initial URLs, but if not, look at the URL of each page on your site and determine if there are any common attributes. URLs vary from site to site, but typically, a URL will contain a focus keyword relating to the topic of the page. 

In addition to making sure that your URLs contain keywords, you can give your pages a boost in SEO by adding internal links to other blogs and pages on your website. Make sure that you only place links where they are appropriate (and helpful for users) and aim to include two or three internal links on every page you create.

4. Cleaning up old pages

It may be tempting to delete or unpublish old pages or blogs on your website every once in a while, but don’t do so until you’ve taken care of a few things first. You may need to enlist the help of your designer on this one. Before removing an old page, set the URL to redirect to an alternative page first. Once this is done, it is safe to remove or unpublish.

Simply deleting a page could harm your site’s SEO by leading visitors to dead links. Making sure that every unused page is redirected will help build your search rankings rather than resetting them for a given page.

If your website is on WordPress, there is a redirect plugin available that makes this process super easy, and it gives you analytics on how many times the redirect has been accessed so you can get rid of any that are no longer needed (having too many redirects also affects your SEO).

5. Adding products to your online store

If your site features an online store, all of the above still applies with a couple of extra steps.

If your product pages have item descriptions, make sure to add rich text with focus keywords to any new products you add. You’ll also want to make sure that the written content is about the same length as all of the other products that are already on your site.

Don’t forget to add any new product categories you make to the navigation menu.

Above all, remember…

No matter what changes you’re making to your website, communication with your designer is key. Not all websites are made in the same way or have the same editing options, so it’s best to ask your designer about the items you need to maintain and how to properly make changes before you start doing things yourself.

If you’re unsure how to keep your SEO in check on your website, or, if you want to get started updating your site, we’d be happy to help by taking a look at your current website and making an easy-to-follow list of items for you to consider.

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