SEO & website design: Everything you need to know
SEO is important to any business that operates online, and many don’t realize it needs to be built into the web design process — not added in later. Here, columnist Marcus Miller has provided a comprehensive guide to SEO and web design.
Your website is the center of your digital marketing world — the place that all digital rivers run toward. And of course, the largest of its traffic sources is generally organic search.
Yet all too often, businesses don’t think about SEO until after having a website designed (or redesigned), and these sites are often sadly lacking on the SEO and digital marketing front. They may look shiny, but if the marketing smarts are not cooked in at design time, then you will be running the marketing race with a wooden leg. Or at the very least, faced with going back to the drawing board and wasting a whole load of time and money.
We have been thinking about the SEO and web design connection a lot recently at Bowler Hat and have just published a website design planning guide to help in what can be a complicated process. This is a companion piece to that guide that really covers the SEO considerations in far more granular detail.
In this post, I have a look at how SEO should be an integral part of your website design (or redesign) process. We are going to look at what you need to consider to have a site that is built for search marketing and lead generation — and how focusing on happy users keeps the Google gods on your side.
We will also take a look at some of the common pitfalls that can befall businesses looking to build a new website that is central to your digital marketing efforts.
In brief, I am going to help you ensure your next site is a lean, mean SEO and digital marketing machine.
What usually happens…
A phone rings at Bowler Hat HQ.
Marcus: “Hey, Bowler Hat here. How can we help?”
Caller: “Hi there. We have just had a website built and… we seem to have lost a considerable amount of traffic.” OR “… we don’t rank for the keywords we used to be visible for.” OR “… we are just not getting any inquiries.” OR “… we want to look at what we can do to improve our SEO.”
Marcus: “Ah, okay. If you can let me know your URL and a number to call you back on, I can take a look and make some suggestions.”
There is a problem here. SEO is not some band-aid you can just plaster onto an existing site. Website SEO is fundamental to succeeding online for the majority of businesses. And the same concepts that fuel solid SEO help with paid search, social and any other inbound marketing efforts. Get this wrong and you will certainly fail to hit your digital marketing goals.
Developing an SEO-friendly website
At a fundamental level, an SEO-friendly site is one that allows a search engine to explore and read pages across the site. Ensuring a search engine can easily crawl and understand your content is the first step to ensuring your visibility in the search engine result pages.
A search engine utilizes a web crawler for this task, and we are trying to work with the search engines rather than against them. Unfortunately, there are many ways to make a website, and not all technologies are built with search engine optimization in mind.
Building an SEO-friendly site requires careful planning and a structured approach to representing your business and the services you provide. For many businesses, this can be complicated — it’s not always easy to document exactly what you do.
As a marketing tool, your website should be built upon a solid digital marketing plan with a clear business model and value proposition. If that’s unclear, then you need to revisit that first.
Assuming you have all that good stuff in place, let’s dive in.