Your website acts as a digital hub for your business. It’s where all your digital channels typically point towards and often acts as your ‘shop window’, containing a wealth of information about your company, its products and its services.
But what are we really looking for from a website?
This is where Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) comes into play. This powerful tool influences where you appear on Google SERP (search engine ranking pages) and is a crucial part of any effective marketing strategy. Why? Because, in a basic sense, the higher you rank on Google, the more traffic you will receive to your site.
So if you’re looking at creating a new website it’s essential that SEO is built in during the development process as this will save the considerable time and hassle of adding it in retrospectively. Optimising a website for SEO at the design stage allows you to be one step ahead in the search game as this solid foundation can be built upon through regular, ongoing SEO input, instead of having to start from scratch.
Let’s look at some of the factors that a website designer/developer should take in to consideration when building a new website, in order to maximise the potential of effective SEO.
Navigation comes under usability. Use the ‘Don’t make me think’ rule (courtesy of Steve Krug), to create a website that is simple and easy to navigate around. The harder it is for users to navigate, the harder it is for SEO bots to crawl, and you can wave goodbye to a substantial amount of traffic.
2) Page Load Times
A website that takes ages to load is a massive turn-off for any potential visitor. Developers should focus on the importance of page load times, what affects this and the difference between page load times for mobile and desktop. Site speed checkers such as PageSpeed Insights from Google are helpful tools for testing website performance.
3) Image Optimisation
Part of what affects your site loading time is image optimisation, so properly sizing images to ensure faster downloads and improve loading times is crucial. Giving images clear, descriptive alt tags and title tags will also benefit your SEO.
4) Site Link Structure
Search engines need to be able to crawl your internal links; therefore development should focus on how your site can be easily crawled by Google. Search engines need to be able to understand the relevance of pages, which can be done by adding the right internal links.
5) Your Content Management System (CMS)
What CMS is your developer using? How does this particular system aid your SEO strategy? Consider the platform your website is being built on (WordPress tends to be recommended for SEO), and speak with your developer about how different parts of the system can be utilised to help your ranking.
6) Universal Resource Locators (URLs)
It’s essential that the URLs set up by your developer are clear. By way of an example, which of the two links below would you prefer to click on?
One of them is much more logical, right? Make sure that the URLs on your site are 100% clear for both users and search engines.
XML sitemaps are another element which help search engines to crawl your site in order to find pages. Your developer should know that a HTML sitemap is there for your site users, and an XML sitemap for search engines. Google and users alike can then find exactly what they’re looking for, quickly and easily.
The developer or agency that you work with should be talking keywords. Before your web development project, keyword research must be performed in order to identify the words and phrases that are relevant to your website. These keywords will come in to play when naming navigation bars as well as specific pages (e.g. services/products).
9) Mobile Optimisation and Responsive Design
Last but not least, make sure your site is mobile friendly! In this day and age it’s a sin to create a website that isn’t optimised for mobile, so test it on a range of both desktop and mobile devices to ensure there’s a consistently great user experience on all of them.
So there you have it – the benefits of building SEO into your website, from day one, are clear.
By overlooking the factors shown above, your SEO (and consequently your website traffic) could be taking a serious hit. Conversely, a well-built site with effective design and optimisation is a powerful tool that will be hugely beneficial to any organisation.
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