So you’re redesigning your ecommerce website. Congratulations! While the work of planning, setting up, testing and going live with a new site may be intense, it can really pay off in terms of benefits to user experience. It’s also a golden opportunity to optimize your site for SEO performance. It takes  a lot more time and energy to go back and edit in SEO elements than it does to simply design your site with SEO purposes in mind in the first place. So here are a few tips on how to incorporate good SEO elements into your site design.

  1. Get an SEO audit on your current site. That’s right, bring in someone who specializes in ecommerce SEO to look things over and tell you your strong and weak points. This will give you an exact idea of where to focus your attentions moving forward.
  2. Make a note of conversion stats and SERP ranks for your current site. This provides a baseline to which you can compare your new site when it goes live. How will you know there’s been improvement (or if something has gone drastically wrong) unless you know where you started?
  3. Give attention to your best-performing keywords. And “best-performing” doesn’t just mean the ones that bring you the most eyeballs. You need to look for engaged visitors—folks who spend significant time on your pages and actually convert to sales.
  4. Use keyword research to help develop your navigation. What do people search for when looking to buy your product? If they tend to search for brand names, make those your major categories. If they search by features or descriptive categories, use those.
  5. Don’t just redesign old content—add new content created with target keywords in mind. Write articles, post videos and create forums to provide value for your customers.
  6. Pay attention to meta tags. If certain pages are performing well, make sure you keep these the same. Change it up for pages that are under performing.
  7. Keep content and URLs from pages that perform well. Why mess with a good thing? But if your URLs MUST change, make sure you target these pages for 301 redirects
  8. If you get significant, valuable traffic from incoming links on other websites, immediately put up 301 redirects for those links and contact the owners of those sites to give them the updated URLs. A great opportunity to build a relationship.
  9. Set up a creative 404 error page. A 404 that simply tells your customers that they’re in the wrong place is aggravating. A 404 that adds value is AWESOME. If it’s at all compatible with the tone of your site, make it humorous and acknowledge your fault. Include links to popular pages or major navigational categories that customers may have been looking for.
  10. Finally, run a link validator over the new site. Bad links happen to the best of us during site redesign.