Without proper consideration, SEO has the potential to break your site, and it’s a critical component of the website design and build process.
This piece will provide you with an SEO checklist that will help you ensure your website gets off on the right foot and help you manage its performance post-launch.
Do your research early on
SEO is often an afterthought during the web design process. Some businesses don’t even start thinking about it until after their site is live, only realising then that they’re not ranking for any relevant search terms.
To avoid this, think about the keywords you want to rank for early on in the process. Consider local key terms, short and long-tail phrases, and any niche words you might be able to rank for. Create a list of all the terms you think your website should rank for, and then use a keyword tool such as Moz to find related phrases.
Once you have a solid list of key phrases for your website, start thinking about how you can incorporate these into your content. For example, you might want to consider including them in page titles, subheadings within the content, and the body text itself. You could even create specific landing pages that target valuable terms.
If you’re doing a website upgrade, then it’s likely that some or possibly all of your page URLs will need updating, such as changing www.yourdomainname.com/about-us/our-team/ to www.yourdomainname.com/our-team/. In instances such as this, you’ll need to ensure you’ve set up 301 redirects to prevent the loss of precious SEO value.
Not doing this could see your traffic dramatically decrease and increase users’ landing on 404 error pages and not returning.
A new website or upgrade is the perfect opportunity to look at the structure of your site to determine whether or not everything is logical regarding navigation and user’s perspective, as well as for SEO. The primary thing to bear in mind here is that you don’t want lots of sub-categories for product or service pages. The ideal setup would be to have landing pages sit towards the top of your domain and, ideally, to contain a keyword.
The second URL is easier to read, places more importance on the primary keyword for that page while also making logical sense in terms of site structure and navigation.
During the CMS selection process, it’s essential to ask your web agency or developer about the CMS’s capability for editing meta information such as the page title and meta description. These are vital elements of SEO management. If this isn’t already a standard aspect of the CMS, you should request it or use a plugin to add it to the website.
Your meta description and page title are fundamental, and again they both need to consider users and search engines, placing importance on the quality of the text and the use of keywords. But, again, every page needs to have this, and it needs doing ahead of the launch, not after.
- Every page should have a unique page title and meta description.
- Meta descriptions should be 155-160 characters. Although they can be any length, this is what Google will show.
- Meta descriptions should be compelling copy that includes your page’s key phrase.
- Page titles should be 50-60 characters.
- Don’t overdo the use of keywords in your description or title.
Each page should tick several boxes to ensure that it’s optimised for search engines. These include:
- Metadata – page title and meta description
- Optimised URL
- Use of relevant H1 and H2 tags to break up the text
- Bullet points
- Internal and external links
- Image ALT text
- Relevant, unique content
- Use of key phrases where appropriate
- Breadcrumbs to show the user where they are on the site and the site’s structure
- Fast loading speed
Check out Moz for more information about on-page optimisation
Since Google announced in 2018 that website speed would be a ranking factor for websites, it’s become increasingly crucial for businesses to ensure they factor speed into the equation when optimising their web pages and finding a balance between features and speed.
Learn more about why website speed matters
Also, in 2018, Google announced its plans to roll out mobile-first indexing and emphasised the importance of responsive or mobile-first design as well as the use of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) on your website.
Learn more about the importance of responsive web design
To summarise, SEO plays a pivotal role in the web design and build process. Here is our recommended checklist for SEO when creating your site:
- Ensure your CMS has SEO Metadata editing capability
- Take an educated looked at your site structure
- Make site speed a priority
- Implement a responsive design
- Use AMP
- Ensure every page includes
- A page title and meta description
- Keyword focus in the URL and above
- Key phrases throughout the content (but not keyword stuffing)
- Relevant content
- Images with ALT text
- Internal and external links
- H1, H2 and bullet points to break up the design