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Top Ten Tips for your Website Relaunch

bab.la is in the process of relaunching its website bit by bit. We started with our most important product: the bab.la dictionaries. There are many aspects to take into consideration to relaunch such a big part of the website. Here I would like to compile a checklist of factors website owners, SEOs and programmers should acknowledge and evaluate.

  1. Firstly it is vital to define a strategy and with it the goals you want to achieve with modifying your web presence. It should not be the case that you or your boss are just tired of the design of the page because you are looking at it every day. You should consider the audience and users’ needs when deciding on new designs, changing the navigation or adding new tools. Also, an excellent website relaunch is planned, takes place in phases, is tested and constantly improved.

    With the relaunch of the bab.la website in May 2012 we also changed our logo.

  2. A search engine friendly site architecture is an important factor for a crawler and ultimately for the user to discover and understand a website. Sites that generate a lot of traffic should not be on a low hierarchical level so it is easy to travel to that site from the homepage. Furthermore a cross linking between the strong pages is vital because this is increasing the link popularity and finally the ranking of the site.
  3. When relaunching a website it is most likely that you will change the site architecture and with it the URLs as well. Examples are that you are renaming or merging categories or that you change from or to subdomains. These decisions need to be discussed and agreed upon at the beginning in your vision and strategy. Here it should also be considered to change to SEO/user-friendly URLs. Now you need to map out all old pages and relate them to the new URLs with a 301 permanent redirect. This will eliminate 404-Error pages and direct users from search engines to the now correct pages.
  4. On top of that you also want to keep tracking your traffic, conversions and your adwords campaigns. This means to transfer your old analytics to the new website so your account will continue to show all your data. Especially now, but also on any other day, it is crucial to see what is happening on your website, how users react to the changes, if the bounce rate increases and if you still get enough people through the important and correct sources. You should also let the Google Webmaster tools know that you have moved to a new domain.
  5. Redesigning and restructuring the website is not the only part you should be thinking about. It is vital that you also consider your mobile users. There are certain options you can choose but the most advanced technique is probably building your website with HTML5 and make it responsive to all mobile devices. Additionally you can also create apps for the most popular mobile operating systems iOS and Android.

    The bab.la homepage in May 2011.

  6. As many SEOs in the industry point out it gets more and more important to create a brand, especially since the recent Panda and Penguin updates. Meaning that a keyword domain, or an exact-match domain (EMD) as Google calls them, will not generate success in the long term. Build a brand, design or redesign your logo and update your website with all the relevant brand messages.
  7. Careful with duplicate content! This seems to be an evergreen subject but it really is important, especially since the Google algorithm updates (especially Panda and Penguin). Remember that search engines read texts, so do not hide the good content in images. This is also important for the navigation because flash menus are invisible for search engines. Use the important keywords wisely and do not overdo it. Do also take a look at your titles and description in order for them not to be duplicates either. Check the Google Webmaster Tools in the HTML Improvements tab to find out more.
  8. When you moved parts of your website or the whole project to different domains and URLs then your link building strategy has to accompany that change. Contact all the websites again and ask them to include your new link and explain shortly how you improved the website.

    The bab.la homepage in November 2012 after the relaunch in May in the same year.

  9. Now, and this should be done throughout the whole process, it is time to test. Test everything. The new design, new products, new functionalities and the new site architecture. Also consider different devices and browsers. Test it within your team because they know how the website should work and can spot mistakes easily. But then you also need to test with external users who are not as familiar with the project as you and your team are. They will uncover problems you would not have thought of in a million years. Things that are obvious to you might not be so obvious to a ‘normal’ user of your website.
  10. Lastly, you also want to let everyone know that you have relaunched your page. Use press portals, social media, your corporate blogs and newsletters to direct attention to your new site.

There are obviously more things you have to consider when relaunching your website, and they also depend on the structure of your site, the goals you want to achieve, and the target groups you want to reach. If you think there are some important points missing then please add them in the comments below!

Stefanie

Recap of the OMCap SES Berlin

For the third time the OMCap – SES Berlin is taking place in the German capital of Berlin. The OMCap is a conference dedicated to all online marketing disciplines, best and worst practices, as well as trends and tips for future implementations of online marketing strategies. The conference is organized by André Alpar, who has been part of the SEO community for over a decade and is now a partner in the German SEO agency AKM3 GmbH.

The line-up for this year’s conference was again impressive and showcased sessions by renowned SEOs and other online marketing professionals from Germany and other European countries. The conference was a two-day event with seminars and workshops on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 and the all-day sessions on Thursday, October 11, 2012. The conference took place in the Kosmos Berlin which used to be the biggest cinema in the former GDR and was the perfect location for a conference with comfortable cinema seats with good view on the stage.

The conference on Thursday started off with the introduction by event organizer André Alpar followed by the keynote by Sebastain Schreiber from the Syss GmbH. His keynote was a very interesting start into the day as he showed, under the title “Live Hacks” how easy and quick it can be to hack into mobile phones, laptops, tablet computers and even online shops in order to change the price of several items. After that the conference was divided into four tracks of sessions beginning at 9:45.

My first choice was to go to the session by Maik Metzen and Frank Hohenleitner who talked about sustainable link building strategies. A relevant topic considering recent updates on Google’s algorithms to clean the web from spam through unnatural and black hat marketing practices. After giving an overview about the Penguin update with examples Maik gave recommendations on how to improve SEO linkbuilding strategies. Along with this, Frank talked about a few tools to evaluate a site where a backlink is or was placed better.

The second session Maile Ohye gave insights on how we can create sustainable online marketing strategies with the help of the Google Webmaster Tools. She works for Google in the Unites States and gave a very lively and interesting presentation showcasing the search persona workflow that should help webmasters and online marketers finding the right metrics, increasing the crawl efficiency, get most of your sites indexed and appear in the SERPS the way people will actually click and engage with your site.

The third slot just before lunch was a difficult one to decide upon. There were two interesting sessions but eventually I decided to listen to Aaron Axelsson and what he had to say about Black Hat SEO.  There were some interesting view points on different linkbuilding techniques and what, according to his experience and opinion, still works well, such as link buying and snapbacks. Although he also pointed out that those techniques are not seen to have a long-term success but are rather short-term quick wins. After that he referred to things he would not recommend to do linkbuilding with, such as open blog networks, sponsored posts and infographics. Aaron finished his presentation with the advice to “stay under the radar!”

After those first three sessions we all were invited to join for a lunch buffet with more networking and catching up with people from the industry. Furthermore it was a good opportunity to recharge the batteries, laptops and brains alike, as there were four more sessions ahead of us.

The first session of the afternoon was supposed to be held by Marcus Tandler and Niels Doerje who discussed the topics search and social in 2013; unfortunately Marcus was not able to join the conference that day. At first, it was not entirely clear in which direction this session would go but there were some interesting ideas I would like to point out. Starting off with the quote by Niels that “Google is constantly becoming faster in its verticalisation” he referred to the history of the search giant, its business decisions and goals for the future. When we look at what acquisitions Google is making, what kind of patents they registered, in which product partnerships Google engages and even who they are about to hire, the online marketing industry can conclude what is about to be introduced and what adjustments SEOs have to make.

Following this session a panel discussion with recognised SEOs from the online marketing industry was held: Sistrix founder Johannes Beus, Searchmetrics founder Marcus Tober and ex-Google support engineer Fili Wiese. The ‘SEO All Star Panel’ was moderated by Jens Fauldrath. This session definitely promised to be insightful. Questions about the development of Google and its most important steps in 2012, the [not provided] issue, the warnings webmasters received in the Google Webmaster Tools, the tagging with schema.org elements and finally opinions on Yahoo! were raised during the discussion.

After this very enlightening discussion the speakers Marcus Tober and Karl Kratz dared another look into the future and talked about the ranking factors for 2013. Marcus spoke about a study his company has carried out for the ranking factors of 2012 for Germany which they have renewed for the following year. According to their survey respondents found it to be more important to create a brand rather than using keywords in your domain or URL. Further the survey also showed that the +1’s might have the strongest impact on search among all social signals. Karl continued the session in a very entertaining way talking about four ranking factors he chose to be important with the focus on the content of a website and optimised texts. For his presentation he also won the “Best Speaker” award at the end of the night.

The last session of the day discussed ways to use SEO with other marketing disciplines. Sepita Ansari from the Catbird Seat GmbH talked about SEO with content marketing, PR, SEA, Usuablity and many more. Most importantly he pointed out that SEO cannot be seen as a “silo” anymore, meaning, that SEO alone will not ensure success without other inbound and paid marketing techniques.

Following the eventful day the official part of the conference was over and all attendees were invited for drinks and food and had time to network and enjoy the atmosphere in this great location.

Concluding, the OMCap in Berlin was a successful event with some insightful and entertaining presentations. The organising team did a very good job, the location was a great choice and there had been some useful information I could take from the seven sessions I saw. Thanks to everyone who made this conference a success and I might see you again next year.

Stefanie

 

PS: Thank you, OMCap for providing the photos!