Most business owners know that search engine optimization (SEO) is important to the health of their website, but many don’t realize that SEO needs to be an integral part of website design from the get-go, not something that’s added as an afterthought.
Why? At its core, an SEO-friendly website will allow search engines to easily read pages across your site. The easier it is for a search engine to “crawl” and understand your site content, the better your website’s rankings in the search engine result pages.
But building a website that’s SEO-friendly and accurately represents your business and services takes careful planning, and can be complicated for businesses that have a difficult time documenting exactly what they do. So first things first.
If your website hasn’t been created around a digital marketing plan with a clear value proposition and business model, revisit that before anything else. If that’s all good, let’s continue.
Creating an SEO-Friendly Website
So how do you ensure that you cover all your SEO bases during website design, or redesign?
Here’s what you need to know about creating an SEO-friendly website:
Cover the Fundamentals:
- Hosting – If your site is slow, your visitors will be unhappy and leave your page in the blink of an eye. Make sure your hosting follows these basic rules: be where your audience is, be fast, and be platform-specific when needed.
- Domains – Your domain should make sense and relate to what you do, and all variations and subdomains should point at your main site.
- CMS – The content management system (CMS) can greatly influence your success. With that in mind, choose the CMS that’s right for your needs, not the one a web company prefers.
Make Crawling Easy for Search Engines:
- Indexation – Search engines need to read content to understand your site. For this reason, the primary content of your site should remain text-based, not images, flash, or video. Images, PDFs, videos, and content are also important and can be a great source of traffic for your site, but they need to be indexable.
- Link structure – To index content beyond the homepage, you’ll need internal links that search engines can crawl. Tools like XML sitemaps, search engine directives, and your primary navigation can all help search engines discover new pages and crawl your site.
Structure Your Site So It’s Easy To Understand:
- Categories, subcategories, and pages – These should be organized in a way that makes sense to users and search engines, with a clear and direct path. For most websites, a 3 to 4 level approach, where content can be easily reached within 3 to 4 clicks, works best.
- URLs – Much like categories, subcategories, and pages, URLs can give further context to the information available. Follow a naming convention that makes it easy for users and search engines to understand.
- Navigation – Equally important, navigation works with the structure, the URLs, and other components to help explain what each page is about. It can be easy to get wrong, and should be carefully considered before building your site. Great navigation will be easy for users to understand, and require little thinking on their part. Ensure your navigation is aa easy and natural as possible to prevent user frustration and confusion.
Bottom line? If your website is designed with SEO in mind, users and search engines will be able to quickly navigate and understand what your site is about, leading to happy users and better Google rankings.