Website redesign can be lethal or liberating for your business. Know what you are getting into before you sign the contract.
Most recently, we covered the website redesign topic in a webinar with HubSpot’s VP of Marketing, Mike Volpe. We received nearly 400 questions during the live session and wanted to address the most frequent ones here, offering a platform for discussion.
1. Where should your blog live?
Marketers often wonder whether their blog should be part of their site, hosted on a separate subdomain or living on an external blogging platform like Wordpress. At HubSpot, we recommend that your blog is part of your site so that it attracts maximum SEO juices, e.g. www.yourdomain.com/blog or blog.yourdomain.com. One of the primary reasons for blogging is to create tons of niche content that enables you to get found online for diverse keyword combinations. Make sure you take advantage of this opportunity.
2. If blogs get people to your site, what gets people to your blog?
To turn your blog into a magnet for new readers and potential customers, start with three basic steps—create content, promote it on the right channels and engage in conversations with your target audience. Make sure your blog posts are well optimized around specific long-tail keywords so that they become the ultimate sources around certain topics. Seek out other influential experts and bloggers from your industry and engage them in thought-provoking discussions. Don’t forget that you can use various social media channels like SlideShare and YouTube—not only Twitter and Facebook—to drive people to your blog. Last but not least, make sure you facilitate content sharing for your audience—whether that is through RSS feeds, email subscriptions or even “Tweet This” buttons.
3. Do you have any suggestions as far as where I can get more content for my blog?
To this question, I would reiterate the advise of one of our wonderful customers, Marcus Sheridan: “Write down on a sheet of paper every question a prospect/customer has ever asked you.” Then, roll up your sleeves and start answering these questions.
4. What analytics of competitors should we watch?
Go to WebsiteGrader.com and submit your domain name as well as that for one of your competitors. When you scroll down on the website analysis report, you will see a competitor section that highlights critical metrics to consider—Moz rank, number of Google indexed pages, traffic rank, blog grade, inbound links and del.icio.us bookmarks. Note where your competitor ranks better than you and make sure to fix this imbalance.
5. Are pictures an important addition to existing text or new text?
Graphics matter. They don’t only complement design aesthetics, but also help both site visitors and search engines understand what your page is all about. Use images relevant to your text-only content and make sure to include ALT tags and captions that describe how the image relates to the topic.
6. How important is the use of video in website design?
Video is here to stay, so you’d better include it in your site. According to a recent Cisco forecast, video will dominate global traffic growth, exceeding 91 percent of global consumer IP traffic by 2014. If you haven’t added video to your existing pages, consider incorporating it in blog posts and other interior pages. Video can be used to explain product features, showcase case studies and introduce industry-specific data.
7. Do you recommend making changes incrementally?
A gradual approach to website redesign is easier to undertake than a sudden redesign. Incremental changes reduce the probability of unexpected user experiences and confusion. As Mashable Co-Editor Ben Parr wrote in his article about Digg, “If we’ve learned anything from Facebook’s many redesign and privacy fiascoes, it’s that major overhauls of large websites don’t go over well.” Drastic changes scare people.
8. Is it effective to include customers in the decision to update the website?
When spreading the word about your company, your customers should have something positive to say, not express frustration with the new interface. If possible, try to communicate important redesign changes with them in a constructive way. But instead of launching an online survey among your customer base, start the redesign process with usability testing. Consider scheduling site walkthroughs with a few customers and observe their thinking patterns and reactions. You will gain an overall understanding of their habits and preferences, which will guide you further in the redesign process.
9. Is Flash content indexed by search engines?
As it has been noted many times before, Flash is not a recommended platform to use if you want to rank high in search engines. As opposed to HTML, Flash is not SEO-friendly and doesn’t help crawlers understand what your pages are about. However, Flash elements might be worth adding to your site if you rely on entertainment techniques or complex visuals to explain product features.
10. Do you leave the older landing pages up when making changes?
Think one step ahead when you are creating a landing page for a time-sensitive marketing offer. Archiving content is almost as important as posting the offer in the first place. When we host webinars, for instance, we transform the existing, time-sensitive landing page into an archived page that offers viewers the on-demand webinar recording and PowerPoint presentation. That way we keep the URL live, build SEO authority for a specific topic, keep capturing leads and offer our viewers valuable resources.
Do you have further insight into some of the questions above? Do you yourself have website redesign questions? Post away in the comments and let’s get the discussion going!
Photo credit: MuseumWales
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