SEO rankings can make or break your website. Showing up one spot higher on a results list than a competitor can be the difference in a sale. It’s important to be aggressive in finding ways to increase traffic through optimizing a website. Revamping your website for an improved user-experience could require changing your URL structure, which could potentially harm your website’s rankings. It’s important to consider risks like this, which could appear harmful at first, with its eventual long-term payoffs.
The first step in improving optimization requires a cost-benefit analysis. By looking at where your web pages rank with different keyword phrases, you can determine how much room for improvement there is, versus how much momentum you could lose with major changes. SEMrush and Google Analytics provide insight into key metrics, and whether your traffic and rankings are trending up or down. Through careful evaluation, you will be able to determine the risks and rewards that are appropriate for your website. Below are two risks worth taking, followed by two that should be avoided.
Updating URL structure can be tedious, but it can help inform consumers of what your page has to offer just from search results. Clear structures will show up cleanly and stand out, even if only subconsciously. If you are planning on doing a massive structural overhaul requiring changing more than 20 pages, use it as an opportunity to change only a few pages at a time and measure the results.
Your website’s click-through-rate (CTR) plays a part in your search engine rankings. To improve the relevance of your rankings, updating your meta titles and meta descriptions can go a long way. Any titles tags and meta descriptions that are poor, incomplete, or that can be improved for optimization should be cared for. Noting the time these adjustments were made is ideal for split-testing to measure results.
Small changes like those two examples can go a long way, especially when paired with changes that improve user experience. Consider offering higher quality photos of your products, or even adding video to refresh the layout. These are some risks that are worth taking, but there also a few that should be skipped.
It never makes sense to delete or consolidate pages of content with URLs. Sure, if you no longer carry an item, you should no longer feature it on your site, but by deleting the page and URL, you will lose your rankings based on keyword information. A better solution is to update that page so that it says something like, “Sorry, we no longer carry this item. Here are some related items to consider.” This will keep your rankings and allow you the opportunity to propose additional products for that visitor as a solution.
Lastly, a complete overhaul that involves more than one of what I’ve listed above at once is never a good idea. Optimization should always be about results, and gradual changes allow you to test and adapt based on what has actually happened, not what you anticipate happening. Always search for ways to improve your SEO, don’t just accept your rankings as final, and always completely exhaust your sites’ key metrics.