While most of our clients come to us when it's time to update their website's design or rebrand their firm, others decide to go with their local branding firm. It's not a common occurrence, but when it happens, we work closely with their selected firm to insure that the onsite search engine optimization is in place on their newly designed website.
One particular client was with us for several years; we achieved top three rankings for them statewide for personal injury, auto accident, and tort keywords -- clearly positions worth protecting. But early communication with their branding firm presented us with a big red flag when their account manager told us that their content management system was “SEO friendly” because it allowed us to add keywords to a meta tag on each page. That branding firm went on to convince our client that they could handle their entire search engine optimization plan, and took over the account.
Now, just ten months later, our former client has fallen off the first page of Google. Their home page title, which once contained descriptive keywords, has been replaced with “Home.” All of their content is locked in images on their home page, giving Google just a menu and copyright notice to index, and the site no longer has backend tools such as an XML sitemap. The design is good, but with their rankings long gone off the first page, no one is seeing it. In short, this law firm's new design failed their SEO accomplishments.
When redesigning your law firm, don't let a branding company just tell you “We will do all of your SEO” or “We can protect your rankings.” Ask them how, ask them about their strategy, ask them to explain in full detail what they will be doing to protect the SEO accomplishments that your firm has achieved.
Here are some tips to avoid losing your rankings to a new design:
1) Seek out a search engine marketing company that has a talented design team. If you can work with a company that employs experts in both branding and search engine optimization (like SEO | Law Firm™), you can be assured that the people working on your design are also working to maintain and improve your search engine presence.
2) Ask about the content management system that your new website will be based on. Open source CMS systems like WordPress or Drupal will be more expandable and have more options than a proprietary system. Also, with your site built on an open source platform, you can move it to any hosting provider in the future if you are ever dissatisfied with the branding/SEO company.
3) Demand satisfaction. It's common for branding firms to limit changes after a website is programmed, but before its programmed, make sure you can make unlimited changes to the proposed designs. A new website is a considerable investment and you should make sure you are 100 percent happy with the end result. Also, the design phase will let you look for key items like placement of text, which will be crucial to maintaining your SEO health.
A fresh new design can improve your conversion rate and give your firm some new energy. You can have both, you don't need to sacrifice your rankings for a new design.
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