Seo web design

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SEO is important lớn any business that operates online, but many don"t realize that search engine optimization needs to be built into the website thiết kế process -- not added in later. Here, columnist Marcus Miller has provided a comprehensive guide lớn SEO & website design.

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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 tìm kiếm.

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 kiến thiết time, then you will be running the marketing race with a wooden leg. Or at the very least, faced with going baông chồng to the drawing board and wasting a whole load of time & money.

We have sầu been thinking about the SEO and web kiến thiết connection a lot recently at Bowler Hat và have just published a website thiết kế planning guide khổng lồ help in what can be a complicated process. This is a companion piece lớn that guide that really covers the SEO considerations in far more granular detail.

In this post, I have sầu a look at how SEO should be an integral part of your trang web kiến thiết (or redesign) process. We are going to lớn look at what you need lớn consider to lớn have a site that is built for search marketing and lead generation — và how focusing on happy users keeps the Google gods on your side.

We will also take a look at some of the comtháng pitfalls that can befall businesses looking khổng lồ build a new website that is central to your digital kinh doanh efforts.

In brief, I am going khổng lồ help you ensure your next site is a lean, mean SEO and digital sale 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 sầu just had a trang web built and… we seem to have lost a considerable amount of traffic.” OR “… we don’t rank for the từ khóa we used to be visible for.” OR “… we are just not getting any inquiries.” OR “… we want to look at what we can bởi to lớn improve sầu our SEO.”

Marcus: “Ah, okay. If you can let me know your URL and a number khổng lồ điện thoại tư vấn you bachồng on, I can take a look và make some suggestions.”

There is a problem here. SEO is not some band-aid you can just plaster onkhổng lồ an existing site. Website SEO is fundamental lớn succeeding online for the majority of businesses. And the same concepts that fuel solid SEO help with paid tìm kiếm, social và any other inbound marketing efforts. Get this wrong & you will certainly fail to hit your digital marketing goals.

Developing an SEO-friendly website

At a fundamental màn chơi, an SEO-friendly site is one that allows a search engine to explore and read pages across the site. Ensuring a tìm kiếm engine can easily crawl and understand your nội dung is the first step to ensuring your visibility in the search engine result pages.

A tìm kiếm engine utilizes a web crawler for this task, & we are trying lớn work with the search engines rather than against them. Unfortunately, there are many ways lớn make a trang web, & not all technologies are built with tìm kiếm engine optimization in mind.

Building an SEO-friendly site requires careful planning & a structured approach to representing your business & the services you provide. For many businesses, this can be complicated — it’s not always easy to lớn document exactly what you bởi vì.

As a marketing tool, your trang web should be built upon a solid digital sale plan with a clear business model & value proposition. If that’s unclear, then you need to lớn revisit that first.

Assuming you have sầu all that good stuff in place, let’s dive sầu in.

Fundamentals

There are a few core elements that set the stage for a well-optimized trang web design process.

Domains

Your business may use example.com as the primary tên miền. But you may have others. Ensuring your domain name makes sense và relates lớn what you do is super-important. Ensuring that all variations và subdomains correctly point at the main site & redirect lớn a single canonical version of the site is important.

Our business is called Bowler Hat. We operate in the UK. We are a web-based business. It naturally follows that our domain is www.bowlerhat.teo.uk. All subdomains 301 redirect baông chồng lớn the main URL www.bowlerhat.teo.uk. We have sầu few tên miền variations that 301 redirect back to lớn the main URL. This all makes sense.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that having-my-keywords-in-my-domain name.com helps. It just looks daft. It can help a little for local businesses, but ensure you are mapping khổng lồ the real world. Be sensible.

Hosting

Your hosting is also important. A slow site makes for unhappy users. Your hosting should follow common-sense rules. Be situated where your audience is situated. Be fast. Be platform-specific, if necessary. WPhường Engine is a great example, as it provides a platkhung tailored to WordPress websites.

CMS

The CMS (nội dung management system) you choose for your business can hugely influence how successful you are. WordPress is a great option in many situations, but it’s not the only one. It certainly is wired up at a basic level in a way that Google can understvà. This is not khổng lồ say it is the best choice for all situations, but certainly, it’s a good starting point for most businesses. Just be sure that the CMS you choose is the right one for your situation, rather than the one your chosen web company prefers khổng lồ work with.

Crawling và accessibility

The first step is ensuring a search engine can crawl your site & understand what it is that you vị (& where you vị it).

Indexation

To understand your site, they have sầu khổng lồ be able to lớn read the content of the page. This means that the main nội dung of your site should be text-based behind the scenes. Not images. Not flash or video. Even in this ever-advancing world, your main nội dung should still be text-based. There are some great tools, lượt thích website fonts, that mean you can still look the part, & your images have a place, but be sure to talk in clear language about what it is you vì so the search engine can read and understand your offering.

Images, videos, PDFs and content are also important & can be a source of search engine traffic. Again, these need to be discoverable & indexable.

Link structure

To index your content beyond the home page, you need internal links that the tìm kiếm engine can crawl. Your primary navigation, search engine directives and tools like XML sitemaps all help the tìm kiếm engine crawl your site & discover new pages. Tools lượt thích Screaming Frog can help you ensure that your site can be easily crawled by a tìm kiếm engine.

Information architecture and structuring your site

I have always like the filing cabinet analogy for trang web structure. Your site is the filing cabinet. The major categories are the drawers. The subcategories are the folders in the drawers. The pages are documents in the folders.

Cabinet: your trang web Drawer: high-level categoryFolder: subcategoryFile: individual document/page

Context is indicated not only by the site it exists on but also by the position within that site. Our own site has a drawer for services, & each service has sub-services in folders. Your site will be largely the same.

If we consider the following structure of the Bowler Hat site as an example:

Home

– Services

– – Service Area

– – – Individual Service

Home

– Services

– – SEO

– – – SEO Audits

So, there is a page in this information architecture that is simply /audits/.

The /audits/ page exists in the SEO folder in the services drawer. Nice & organized. This can follow through with other SEO elements to clearly indicate context far beyond that which can be indicated by the document alone.

This is relevant to blog posts, articles, FAQ nội dung, services, locations và just about anything else that is an entity within your business. You are looking to lớn structure the information about your business in a way that makes it understandable.

Some sites may take a deep approach lớn structuring content. Others may take a wide approach. The important takeaway here is that things should be organized in a way that makes sense & simplifies navigation and discovery.

A three- to four-màn chơi approach like this ensures that most nội dung can be easily navigated to within four clicks and tends to lớn work better than a deeper approach khổng lồ site navigation (for users and tìm kiếm engines).

URLs

Context is further indicated by the URL. A sensible naming convention helps provide yet more context for humans và tìm kiếm engines.

Following are two hypothetical sets of URLs that could bản đồ khổng lồ the Services > SEO > SEO Audit path laid out above — yet one makes sense, & the other does nothing to help.

www.example.comwww.example.com/services/www.example.com/services/seo/www.example.com/services/seo/audits/

www.example.comwww.example.com/s123/www.example.com/s123/s1/www.example.com/s123/s1/75/

Of course, the second mix of URLs is a purposely daft example, but it serves a point — the first URL naming convention helps both search engines & users, and the second one hinders.

Navigation

Your navigation is equally important. When a site is well-structured, the navigation works with the structure, the URLs và other components, like XML sitemaps, to lớn help solidify what each page or piece of nội dung is about.

Navigation is more than just the menu at the top of your website. It is how you signpost users to lớn the most relevant part of your site. Navigation can be a tool to raise awareness of additional services và includes not just text link but content on all pages and in the templated kiến thiết elements of your site.

I have sầu always liked the signpost analogy. I walk inkhổng lồ a supermarket và look for the signs khổng lồ find what I need. Your website is no different. If a user is referred & searches for your br& name, then they will land on your home page page. They then need a signpost to lớn get them to the relevant service. And it had better be easy lớn find!

It is very easy lớn get this wrong, & careful thought must be applied — before you build the site — regarding the needs & wants of your users. A trang web is a digital component that should execute the strategy from your marketing plan. Understanding users here is crucial so you can ensure you are meeting their needs.

Navigation should not need any real cognition — it should not make the user have sầu to lớn think. The following image is a sign from my local trang chủ improvement store. Which direction takes you to the car park & which direction takes you to lớn the deliveries entrance?

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My brain follows the “customer car park” line from left lớn right, so I of course turn right. However, the customer oto park is to the left. There is nothing there lớn clearly illustrate which is right or wrong.

I have to think. Or in practice, I go in the wrong direction a few times before I learn. However, if users don’t find what they are looking for on a trang web, they will return to the great ocean of competition that Google tìm kiếm results represent.

Ensure your navigation is crystal-clear — if one user can make a mistake, many others can, too.

Common problems

There are many potential issues with content that can’t be found or can’t be understood by the tìm kiếm engine that can work against you. For example:

Orphaned content that can’t be foundContent only available via site searchFlash files, Java programs, audio files, đoạn phim filesAJAX* và flashy site effectsFrames — Content embedded from another site can be problematic.Subdomains — content split into subdomains rather than sub-folders

* Google has gotten a lot better at reading AJAX pages, but it is still possible to obscure nội dung with pointless effects.

Be sure that important content is easily discoverable, understandable and sits in the overall structure of the site in a way that makes sense.

Summary

If everything is done well, a human and a search engine should have a pretty good idea what a page is about before they even look at it. Your typical SEO then just builds on this solid foundation that is laid out by your information architecture and site structure.

Mobile-friendly design

The most popular device used to lớn conduct internet searches and lớn browse websites is the Mobile phone. We live in a mobile-first age. Sites optimized for tìm kiếm engines should give sầu equal consideration lớn the sản phẩm điện thoại layouts of their websites (rather than just bolting on simple responsive sầu website design).

Yet, in 2017, responsive sầu design is not enough. We were talking about the importance of responsive sầu website design in 2012. Five years later, with massive sầu technological progress & greatly improved điện thoại data networks, your future customers are using Mobile as the first, & often only, device to interact with your business.

To create a truly mobile-friendly design và maximize results from Smartphone tìm kiếm, you must think of the needs and wants of Smartphone users. What a user will bởi vì on a phone is often far different from what they will vày on a computer. And even if your conversions tover to lớn be on a desktop, that crucial first touch may well be on Mobile.

A few months baông chồng, I looked at 28 key factors in creating Smartphone SEO-friendly websites that will help you move sầu beyond simple mobile-friendly responsive sầu kiến thiết.

From an SEO perspective sầu, it is worth noting that mobile-friendliness is a confirmed ranking factor for điện thoại search, và it is the mobile version of your site that will be used by the tìm kiếm engine to lớn Reviews and rank your site. However, far more important, mobile is how your prospective sầu customers are searching for và browsing your site.

Work hard on optimizing the user experience for Smartphone users & you will reap the rewards for your efforts in terms of traffic & user engagement.

Page speed

Another key consideration in the Mobile era is page speed. Users may be impatient, or they may not always have sầu a great điện thoại data connection. Ensuring your pages are lean and mean is a key consideration in modern SEO-friendly trang web design.

A great starting point is Google’s mobile-friendly chạy thử. This tool will give sầu you feedbaông chồng on mobile-friendliness, Smartphone tốc độ and desktop tốc độ. It also wraps everything up into lớn a handy little report detailing what exactly you can do lớn speed things up.

I went inkhổng lồ a little more detail on how khổng lồ optimize for tốc độ in a recent column on di động optimization. Suffice it khổng lồ say, page speed is yet another important consideration that spans how your site is built and the unique & suitability of the hosting you use.

Usability

Web usability is a combination of other factors: device-specific design, page speed, kiến thiết conventions và an intuitive approach khổng lồ putting the site together with the end user in mind.

Key factors to lớn consider include:

Page layout. Important elements should have sầu more prominence.Visual hierarchy. Make more important elements bigger! trang chủ page và site navigation. Clearly signpost directions for users.

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Site tìm kiếm. Large sites need a sensibly positioned search option.Form entry. Make forms as lightweight và easy to fill as possible.Design. Great kiến thiết makes everything easier.

This is just scratching the surface here, and usability really has lớn be customized to the individual site. A couple of resources I would kiểm tra out would be the book, “Don’t Make Me Think: A Comtháng Sense Approach khổng lồ Web Usability, by Steve Krug và my điện thoại optimization checkmenu.

The content sale funnel

Your trang web has a hell of a job to lớn do: it must help your business get in front of prospective customers on search engines, & then it has lớn engage & convert those customers.

Your site needs content to lớn help with all of these stages of the customer journey. Content và SEO is an important combination here, as you may get in front of a customer as they look for similar services from another company they are already considering.

A structured way lớn consider the nội dung you need here is a typical sale funnel:

Awareness — top of the funnel

Awareness content will typically be your blog and informational articles. We are helping your prospective customer understvà the problems they face & illustrating your experience và credibility in solving them.

Blog posts Informational articlesWebinars Comprehensive sầu guides FAQs

Consideration — middle of the funnel

The content at the consideration stage helps your prospect compare you against the other offerings out there. This tends khổng lồ be practical nội dung that helps the customer make a decision.

Case studiesProduct or service informationProduct demonstration videos User guides

Conversion — bottom of the funnel

Bottom-of-the-funnel nội dung drives conversions và should gently encourage a sale or lead.

ReviewsTestimonialsFree trial Free consultation

Remember that customers will tìm kiếm across this entire spectrum of content types. Therefore, ensuring all of these areas are covered sida discovery via tìm kiếm engines, consideration and conversion.

SEO nuts & bolts

As you can see, there is a lot khổng lồ consider before we even look at the more familiar elements of optimizing your site & pages. We should only really start khổng lồ think about keywords & basic on-page optimization once we have sầu this solid foundation in place. And hopefully, if we have structured everything correctly, then the actual optimization of the pages becomes far easier.

Keyword targeting

Nailing your từ khoá strategy is so much easier once you have sầu a solid structure without internal duplication. If we look at our previous examples for site hierarchy và structure, then adding từ khoá is relatively straightforward (& is something we would often vì chưng in a spreadsheet pre-design).

– Services– – SEO– – – SEO Audits

www.example.com/services/www.example.com/services/seo/www.example.com/services/seo/audits/

If I use these pages as an example, we have a natural progression from broad từ khóa lớn more refined tìm kiếm terms. We can even consider basic modifiers such as location if we are a local business.

Home

– digital kinh doanh agency

– digital kinh doanh company

+ Birmingham

+ UK

Services

– sale services

– digital kinh doanh services

+ Birmingham

+ UK

SEO

– SEO

– Search Engine Optimization

+ Company

+ Agency

+ Birmingham

+ UK

SEO Audits

– SEO Audits

– Technical SEO Audits

+ Agency

+ Company

+ Birmingham

The point here is that a well-structured site gets you a good way toward determining your keyword strategy. You still have sầu to lớn bởi vì the research and copywriting, but you can be sure you have sầu a solid strategy lớn target broad and more detailed terms.

HTML title tags

The tag is the primary behind-the-scenes tag that can influence your tìm kiếm engine results. In fact, it is the only meta tag that actually influences position directly.

Best practice for title tags are as follows:

Place từ khóa at the beginning of the tag.Keep length around 50 to 60 characters.Use từ khoá and key phrases in a natural manner.Use dividers khổng lồ separate elements lượt thích category and br&.Focus on click-through và the over user.Have sầu a consistent approach across the site.

Even in 2017, we still see a lot of overoptimized page titles. We want our keyword in the title tag, but not at the expense of click-through and human readability. A search engine may rank your content, but a human clicks on it, so keep that in mind.

Meta description tags

Meta descriptions don’t directly influence rankings. We all know that, right? But of course, that is completely missing the point here. Your meta mô tả tìm kiếm is the nội dung of your advertisement for that page in a mix of search engine results. Your meta mô tả tìm kiếm is what wins you the cliông chồng. And winning those clicks can help improve sầu visibility và is absolutely vital in driving more users lớn your pages.

Meta descriptions must:

truthfully describe the page nội dung.advertise the page and improve sầu click-through rates.consider the user’s thought process and why they will click on this page.include keyword where relevant & natural khổng lồ vì chưng so.

The search engine will highlight search terms in your page title và meta description which help a user scan the page. Don’t use this as an excuse to spam the meta mô tả tìm kiếm, though, or else Google likely will ignore it, và it won’t lead khổng lồ that all-important click!

There are also situations where it can make sense not lớn create a meta description & let the search engine pull content from the page khổng lồ size a mô tả tìm kiếm that more accurately maps to a user’s tìm kiếm. Your brief meta mô tả tìm kiếm can’t always cover all the options for a longer-size piece of nội dung, so keep this in mind.

Heading tags

Heading tags help structure the page và indicate hierarchy in a document: H1, H2, H3 and so on. Text in heading tags correlates with improved rankings (albeit slightly), but what really matters is that alignment between the structure of the site, behind the scenes optimization lượt thích page titles and meta descriptions và the nội dung itself. Line everything up, and things make more sense for users, và we help search engines categorize our nội dung while eking out every last bit of simple, on-page optimization we can.

Remember lớn align header tags with the visual hierarchy. Meaning the most important header on the page (typically the ) should also be the biggest text element on the page. You are making the document visually easy to underst& here và further ensuring that design và nội dung are working together for the best over result.

Page nội dung

The nội dung should generally be the most important part of the page. However, we still see archaic SEO practices like overt keywords density and search terms with a laông chồng of connective words used in the copy. This does not work. It certainly does not help with your SEO. And it makes for a poor user experience.

We want khổng lồ make sure the context of our page is clear. Our navigation, URLs, page titles, headers và so on should all help here. Yet we want khổng lồ write naturally, using synonyms & natural language.

Focus on creating great nội dung that engages the user. Be mindful of từ khoá, but certainly don’t overvày it.

Considerations for page content:

Keywords in content (but don’t overvì it)Structure of the page Position of keywords in the content — earlier can be betterSynonyms và alternatives Co-occurrence of từ khóa — what else would other high-unique documents include?

Rich snippets

Rich snippets are a powerful tool to increase click-through rates. We are naturally attracted to listings that stvà out in the search engine results. Anything you can vì chưng to improve the click-through rate drives more users và makes your tìm kiếm engine listings work harder. Factor in possible ranking improvements from increased engagement, and you can have a low-đầu vào, high-output SEO tactic.

The snippets that are most relevant khổng lồ your business will depkết thúc on what you bởi, but schema.org is a great place to lớn start.

Image optimization

Image SEO can drive sầu a substantial amount of traffic in the right circumstances. And again, our thoughts regarding context are important here. Google does not (yet) use the content of images, so context within the site và the page and basic optimization are crucial here.

As an example, I am looking for a hobbit hole playhouse for my five-year-old, & the search brings up image results:

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I can dive sầu right into lớn those image results và find a multitude of options, then use the image to drive sầu me to the site that sells the playhouse. Optimizing your images increases the chance of improving prominence in the image tìm kiếm results.

Image optimization is technically straightforward:

Image name — provide a name that clearly describes what the image is.Alt text — use descriptive sầu alt text to help those who can’t see the images lớn reinforce the image nội dung.Add OpenGraph và Twitter Cards so the image is used in social shares.Use the image at the right physical kích thước khổng lồ ensure fast downloads.Optimize the image’s file size to improve sầu loading times.Consider adding images to lớn your XML sitemaps.

Image optimization is relatively simple. Keep the images relevant. Don’t spam the filenames & alt text with từ khóa. Be descriptive sầu.

Common problems

SEO projects at Bowler Hat often include an SEO audit as the first port of điện thoại tư vấn. We can’t cover every eventuality here, but the following are the usual suspects that crop up và that website designers should be mindful of.

Duplicate content

There tkết thúc lớn be two kinds of duplicate content: true duplicates và near-duplicates. True duplicates are where the content exists in multiple places (different pages, sites, subdomains & so on). Near-duplicates can be thin nội dung or substantially similar content — think of a business with multiple locations or shoes listed on a chất lượng page in different sizes.

Keyword cannibalization

Keyword cannibalization refers lớn the situation where multiple pages target the same keywords. This can impact the ability of your site to lớn have one page that strongly targets a given term.

Where the site architecture and hierarchy has been carefully planned, you should eliminate this during the planning và thiết kế stages.

Domains, subdomains và protocols

Another potential issue where duplication crops up is where the site is available on multiple domains, subdomains & protocols.

Consider a business with two domains:

Example.comExample.co.uk

With www and non-www versions:

Example.comExample.co.ukwww.example.comwww.example.co.uk

And the site runs on HTTP.. và HTTPS:

http://example.comhttp://example.teo.ukhttp://www.example.comhttp://www.example.teo.ukhttps://example.comhttps://example.co.ukhttps://www.example.comhttps://www.example.teo.uk

Before too long, we can get to lớn a situation where the site has eight potential variations. Factor in the site resolving on any subdomain name và a few duff internal links & we can often add things like “ww.example.com” lớn the list above.

These kinds of issues are simply resolved with URL redirections, but again, they deserve consideration by any web kiến thiết agency that takes care of hosting & is serious about the SEO of their customers’ websites.

Botched canonical URLs

Another common issue we see is an incorrect implementation of canonical URLs. What typically happens here is that the person building the site looks at canonical URLs as an SEO checkcác mục kind of job. They are implemented by dynamically inserting the URL in the address bar inkhổng lồ the canonical URL.

This is fundamentally flawed in that we can kết thúc up with the site running on multiple URLs, each with a nội dung nguồn gốc claiming that they are the authoritative version. So the canonical implementation exacerbates rather than resolves the issue.

Canonical URLs are a powerful tool when wielded wisely, yet they must be used properly or they can make matters worse.

Questions or comments?

There are a lot of moving parts with trang web kiến thiết & SEO. But to lớn be forewarned is to lớn be forearmed. My goal here was to furnish you with the key SEO elements lớn consider before, during & after a website thiết kế project.

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I would love sầu lớn hear any questions or comments on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.


Chuyên mục: SEO