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SEO Essentials: 10 Questions to Ask Your Design Agency

by Tug Agency | 02.08.2023

Every web design agency will say they are experts in SEO and can protect your organic performance when they launch your new site. Yet history is littered with examples of global brands that saw SEO rankings crash immediately post-site launch.

At Tug we have helped many brands transition to new sites protecting their SEO position and often generating significant uplifts in the process. We have also been called in to clear up the mess when sites have crashed out of the rankings post launch.

So here’s our helpful 10 question guide you should ask your web design agency if you want to protect your page rankings. Or better still, ask an SEO expert! When launching a new website, it’s crucial to consider not only the technical aspects of SEO but also the impact on off-site factors such as backlinks and content. To ensure a successful website launch without compromising your SEO performance, here are ten technical questions to ask your web design agency.

1. How will you handle the redirection of URLs and ensure proper implementation of 301 redirects, considering the impact on backlinks?

Properly redirecting URLs using 301 redirects is essential to preserve the SEO value of backlinks and authority. Inquire about the agency’s plan for handling URL redirects and ensure they understand the importance of maintaining backlink integrity during the website redesign or migration process. If you have to change the site structure you should be looking to redirect any URLs at a page level to the nearest new page.

2. What measures will you take to ensure that the new website’s design and structure support effective internal linking strategies?

Internal linking is vital for enhancing website navigation and distributing link equity. Ask the agency about their plan to optimise the website’s design and structure to support effective internal linking strategies, allowing search engines to crawl and index pages more effectively.

3. How will you handle the integration of social sharing buttons and other social media elements into the new website?

Social signals and social media engagement can impact SEO. Inquire about the agency’s plan to integrate social sharing buttons, social media widgets, and other related elements into the new website to encourage social sharing and engagement.

4. Will you ensure that the new website’s design and code are optimised for search engine crawlers and meet technical SEO requirements?

Technical SEO elements, such as proper HTML markup, structured data, and crawlability, are critical for search engine visibility. Discuss with the agency how they will optimise the new website’s design and code to meet technical SEO requirements and enhance search engine crawling and indexing.

5. How will you handle the preservation of existing structured data markup and implement new markup on the new website?

Structured data markup helps search engines understand the content on your website better. Ask the agency about their plan to preserve existing structured data markup during the migration process and how they will implement new markup on the redesigned site to enhance SEO visibility.

6. How will you optimise the new website for fast loading speed, considering its impact on user experience and SEO?

Website speed is a crucial factor for user experience and SEO rankings. Inquire about the agency’s strategy for optimising the new website’s loading speed, including techniques such as image compression, code minification, caching, and server optimisation.

7. What measures are you taking to ensure minimal cumulative layout shift with the build?

Many page speed issues are caused by overly large images and if you have multiple people uploading content to the site you’ll often find that large images start to creep back in and page speed starts to deteriorate. Ask your agency what mechanics they can put in place to help to stop this happening, for example restrictions on the size of images that can be uploaded, CMS signposting and guidance on image usage & tools to automatically resize images.

8. What mechanisms will you put in place to help us maintain good page speed post launch?

Cumulative layout shift focuses on how much a page and its elements move around as it loads. Google increased its weighting towards CLS as a performance factor at the start of the year, making it even more important that it is built into the core design of the site during a migration or relaunch.

9. How will you handle the integration of key SEO functional & reporting features, such as XML sitemaps, robots.txt and analytics tracking?

These play a significant role in optimising and tracking website performance. Ask the agency about their approach to integrating these features, such as XML sitemaps, robots.txt, and analytics tracking codes, to ensure comprehensive SEO management of the site during a migration or relaunch.

10. What CMS functionality has been added to ensure me and my team can effectively maintain best practice SEO once launched?

It’s important that you consider the easy management of day to day SEO tasks after launch. Ask your developers if you have everything in place that you need to manage this. Examples include content optimisation with editable URLs, titles, meta descriptions & heading tags, a tool to allow you to manage redirects internally, easy management of your robots.txt file, editable canonical tags.

We hope this helps. We also hope it brings into focus the complexity of maintaining page rank through a new site launch and the fact you need a specialist!

Read our case study on how we helped The Jockey Club merge 14 different websites into one, AND generated a 16% increase in revenue as we did it!

Tug is a global, full-service performance digital agency, optimised to grow ambitious brands through a smart combination of data, media, content and technology.

If you’ve recently or are soon to go through a migration or new site launch and would like to discuss further how Tug can support with these complex projects, please reach out and we’d be delighted to help.