If you’re not a marketing expert, your search engine optimization (SEO) knowledge is probably fairly limited. Many people outside of the marketing industry assume that SEO is only about identifying and targeting keywords. While keyword targeting is important to SEO, it’s only a small piece of the puzzle. In many cases, companies can improve their SEO not by focusing on keywords, but by rebuilding or improving their website. If you are planning on launching a new website or making improvements to the one you have, there are a few things you should consider if you want to make your new website more SEO-friendly.
One of the first technical decisions you will have to make is whether to use HTTP or HTTPS for your website. Which should you choose? HTTPS. Google announced in 2014 that HTTPS would be used as a ranking signal, and although it does not weigh as heavily on your ranking as keywords or relevant content, it will affect where you end up in the search results. HTTPS is considered to be the more secure choice of the two, so this is especially important to Google if your website accepts payments.
You may be in a hurry to complete the website build, but one thing you should not overlook is the speed of the site. The faster your site is, the more likely customers are to stick around and continue browsing. We’ve all closed out of a website after becoming frustrated with how slow a page was loading, so don’t make the mistake of losing customers because of your speed. What does this have to do with SEO? Google has admitted that site speed is one of the factors they consider when ranking websites. If a search engine can’t crawl through your pages because of a slow site speed, this will affect how you rank.
But, let’s go back to the user experience on a slow website. Google wants pages that are relevant and useful to users to show up on the first page of search results. If a website doesn’t load quickly, the user doesn’t have a good experience, so Google will not want you on the first page of results. To please both Google and your potential customers, work with your developer to ensure your site speed will not negatively affect your SEO.
When building your website, keep in mind that Google constantly changes the rules of SEO. What works today may not work tomorrow, and you shouldn’t have to rebuild your website every time Google rolls out a new algorithm. Protect yourself by making sure your developer is creating a flexible website that can easily be edited to stay up-to-date with any changes that take place in the world of SEO.
First, you will need to figure out what you will be offering on your website in terms of content. Will you be featuring videos, blogs, or podcasts? Do you plan on creating and posting a lot of infographics and other visuals? This needs to be decided upfront so you can figure out how to design the layout of each page. If you don’t consider the type of content early on in the design process, you could end up with a layout that is not compatible with the content you want to deliver.
Next, consider the information architecture of your website. Information architecture is a term used to describe the organization and structure of the website, and it can impact how your website is perceived by both people and search engines. It’s recommended that you stick to a flat site structure when designing your website. This means that users who are on your homepage should be able to get to any other page on your website within 3-4 clicks. Creating a website with a flat design, instead of a deep design where users may have to click 10 times to get to the page they’re looking for, is much more SEO-friendly. Users aren’t the only ones who will be able to find what they’re looking for with a flat site design—search engines will, too. Using this type of structure will improve your ranking because you have made the information more available and easy to find for the search engine.
Now that you have determined the basic structure and layout of your page, it’s time to figure out what pages you need and where they should go. To figure out which pages you need included on your website, look at your competitors’ websites. Do a search for one of your targeted keywords and look at the top results to see how their websites are laid out. For example, does your competitor have an “About Us” page? How about a “Location” page with a map and driving directions? How is the information about their services or products grouped together? The answers to these questions can guide you in the right direction when you design your website.
You should also look at competitors to see how their pages are grouped together. If you are an online clothing store, take a look at how other online retailers group their products together. For instance, on the homepage, do you have to click on “Women” and then “Accessories” and then “Handbags” to look at purses? Or should the user be able to click directly on “Accessories” and then have the option to click on “Handbags”? You know your customers better than anyone, so think about how they will want to find pages on your website when you determine how pages should be grouped together.
Designing and building a website can be confusing on its own, so it becomes even more complicated when you throw SEO into the mix. If you’re ready to design and build a new website, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.