We’ve all been there. You design a site that you’re excited about, and you have a decent amount of traffic, but it’s not quite enough. You want to introduce SEO to make your site easier to discover through search, and so you do your research, and start looking under the hood of your website, with the goal of introducing SEO at the very core of your site.
And then, you start to notice the problems. Your website, which is running perfectly, has a bad case of code bloat. It won’t validate. You also now need to go back and rethink all of your web pages and blog posts, adding in appropriate keywords and tags, changing URLs where needed, and rewriting as necessary. The more you learn, the more things add up.
If you’re reading this before you start your website, you’re in luck. If you want to do SEO correctly, you need to put it in from the ground up. Before you do anything, you need to work out a list of keywords and develop a plan. Design a site architecture based around the content you’re planning on developing for your site (use your keywords when developing your content plan). Categorize your content based on themes; this will become your navigation system.
As you’re creating your content plan, use siloing to build an easily understood navigation system. You should end up with something like this:
Each main idea would come from one of the most important keywords in your content plan. As you create your content, you should also think about your URL structure, based on your silos. Each URL should clearly label what the page is about and where in the silo it is. For example:
Each URL shows what the page is about and your current place in the navigation silo. You are viewing a page about cars, specifically Fords, specifically Ford Hybrids, specifically Ford Fusions (or Ford Focuses). Not only is it easy for users to understand, it also helps your SEO. The indexing robots can follow the URLs in a way that makes sense to them, and they are seeing your main keywords right in the URL of each page.
Create your tags and meta descriptions for each page. These bits of data go right in your site header, and their purpose is to specifically tell search engines what to expect from the content of your page. Your meta description is also (usually) what search engines use to create the text snippet below your link in the search engine result pages (SERPS). Meta tags and descriptions don’t hold as much SEO value as they used to, but they are still important for gaining click-throughs. Let people know what to expect from your page, and use your keywords.
Make sure that you’re working through a quality server. If your site is lagging or down on a regular basis due to server error, search engines won’t rank your site as high. Don’t host your website through the first discount service you find; do your research, and ask other website owners for their opinion. You need a company that you can depend on.
Learn how to set up your content management system (CMS) for SEO. If you’re using WordPress, for example, there are several SEO plugin packs that can make search optimization a whole lot easier. There are also some website themes that are better for SEO than others. Using a theme developed to help your site rank on the SERPs will get you further ahead than using a theme that may look nice but has serious coding problems.
There’s a lot to think about when you’re just starting to plan a website. Don’t let your SEO fall off of your list; it should be forefront in your mind the entire time that you’re planning, and then building, your site. If you work it in as you go, instead of going back to add it in later, you’ll find that it’s a much easier and intuitive process; the search optimization will actually help you to build a cleaner, more user-friendly site.
How else can you implement SEO as you build your website? What suggestions did we miss?