So you’re building a new website. How exciting! But before you start designing, have you considered how your website is going to be optimised for search engines? SEO isn’t just something you do after your website has been built by shoehorning in a few keywords – it should start right at the beginning, before you or your developers sit down and start coding. Putting in the hours to create an SEO website architecture can really pay off in the long run and save you from any headaches when you come to continue your SEO after launch.
Here are five SEO tasks you can do without even touching a CMS platform:
1. Carry Out Keyword Research
To start with, a little keyword research can help you to decide what pages you need on your website and what they should be called. You will probably find that the keywords that come up can be grouped into categories to form pages, such as service pages detailing each product or service you offer, or product listing pages. Depending on your products, you may have broader primary categories, and within those, secondary categories to target more specific products and keywords.
Your keyword research and the products and services you have available should therefore combine to create a sensible structure for your website.
While you’re at it, you might as well write up some SEO page titles using the keywords you found.
2. Create A Site Map
Following on from your keyword research, creating a site map before your site is built can be a great planning tool to get your thoughts in order. It can help you to ensure that every page on your website has a unique purpose, is essential, and that there is no unnecessary duplicate content.
Sketching out a site map and listing all the pages you want can help you clarify the goals of each individual page and the site as a whole. It can also help you to make the customer journey as simple as possible, so that the customer needs to take as few steps as possible to convert. This will also help ensure that your website isn’t more complicated than it needs to be, increasing conversions and making the journey through the site easier for both users and search engine crawlers.
3. Consider URL Structure
Your URLs should tell users and search engines what to expect on each page. They should include relevant keywords and a logical structure that shows the location of the page within any parent categories. Make sure you separate words using hyphens, not underscores (recommended by Google).
4. Plan Navigation
While we’re on the subject of logical navigation and structure, breadcrumb trails at the top of your page can reinforce this, giving users an easy way to get back to the previous category page.
Home > Women > T-shirts > I Heart SEO Tee
5. Optimise Your Images For Site Speed
Google cares how quickly your site loads. So do your users. One way to prevent unnecessarily long loading times is to change the size of your images. For example, if you have a 300 x 400px image which is 30KB, coding your HTML to display it as a 200 x 300 image will make it look smaller, but a user’s browser will still be trying to load a 30KB image, so it will load at the same speed. For best results, resize your images to the size you want them to be displayed on the website first, and then also specify the height and width in pixels when coding.
(While you’re looking at your images, you should also give them useful, keyword-based names.)
And finally, planning is everything. Putting in some more thought in the beginning can save you from hassles and headaches in the long run, so it's a good idea to have a list of things you need to take care of to make sure you don't miss anything out. This SEO Checklist: 74 Step Process for Mammoth Rankings is a good resource for helping you plan your SEO activities.
There are so many things you can do to optimise your website for search, and in creating a good website structure right from the start you will be able to target each of your customers’ needs, as well as create good landing pages for PPC purposes and social sharing in the future.
At SilverDisc we build search engine optimised websites and can continue to provide SEO services long after your website launch. Contact us for more information.