Most people develop their website and then focus on SEO. However, this is actually approaching website optimization backwards. In fact, many of the most effect ways of optimizing a website occur in the development phase and lead to a ton of traffic to your website from Google and other search engines.
Many websites are designed by professional developers, but then they have to be basically torn apart by SEO consultants in order to make the site show up in search engine results. The good news is that there are ways you can develop a website to get it right the first time. Here are some SEO tactics that you should keep in mind when planning and developing your site to help with Seo rankings.
#1 Know your Keywords
In the past, I have written extensively on finding and choosing keywords, but most you are probably current website holders looking for a way to improve an existing site. While it is never too late, you’ll get better search results with a whole lot less effort if you develop your website after identifying which keywords you are planning to incorporate. You’ll still need to modify your site as your market changes, but you’ll be starting off on the right foot. To have success in the market, your digital marketing should include SEO and keyword research as one of the pillars.
#2 Plan a Static U.R.L Structure
Dynamic URLs are common in modern SEO friendly web design, but they present an SEO nightmare for a variety of reasons. Develop your site without them. Choose static search engine friendly URLs and base them on your keywords from the very beginning as they are part of ranking factors.
#3 Think Outside the Site
Many of the best SEO development tools come from outside your actual site and will help you rank higher. Open accounts on your preferred social networking websites and place links and buttons prominently on every page of your website. Don’t overdo this—too many buttons ad doohickeys can be annoying—but definitely choose a few favorites.
Also, sign up for Google Webmaster Tools. This will allow you to identify problems with search engines and respond to them before they become a site killer. Google will actually tell you how they see your site and notify you of issues—information that you can’t afford to go without. This can also help you identify any user experience issues such as mobile friendliness (if your website shows well on mobile devices), speed of the website any more.
#4 Follow the Pack
By this, I mean you develop your website according to the standards of whatever convention you are using. Whether you are using HTML, database or CSS, follow the rules religiously, even when breaking them seems to work. This will make it easier to modify your website as you go along.
Keep in mind that if your website grows, you may need to delegate tasks to someone who won’t necessarily understand an unconventional system. Link building can be a task that needs to be delegated and monitored carefully. Posting on social media platforms is another task that can be delegated but needs to be supervised.
#5 Create an XML Sitemap
Many people neglect this step, but it is one of the most important SEO tricks. Once your site is up, generate an XML sitemap and submit it to search engines. This is easy to do with that Google Webmaster Tools account that you already opened! For best results, create your website so your sitemap updates whenever you make a change and notifies the search engines automatically.
#6 Plan to Analyze
The only way to keep your website relevant and high ranking is to regularly analyze and modify accordingly. Why not set yourself up for success from the start with analytical tools? Choose any package that appeals to your specifications and budget, but make sure your chosen tool allows you to track sources of revenue and traffic. A great tool is Google Analytics and it is absolutely free. I use it on all my sites.
#7 Leave Room for Text
A common mistake is getting so caught up in design that you forget to leave room for the stuff that will actually boost your page rank and income: content. Make sure all of your pages have ample space for keyword-rich text. This means at least 200 words of content along with appropriate, html headers as well.
#8 Avoid Duplicate Content
Search engines hate duplicate content, and even if you get away with it you are still cannibalizing your website. Give each concept, product, service, or whatever you are peddling its own URL and then leave it there. You can still link to this URL from a variety of internal sources, but it needs its own home. This is not just good for SEO, but good for website organization and management as well. As the adage goes, a place for everything and everything in its place.
#9 Title Consistently
Don’t design your pages like they are an island—pick a title convention that will be used throughout your website. Whatever the structure you choose, make your titles brief and descriptive with relevant keywords.
#10 Mark Non-Text Elements
The best example of a non-text element is a photograph. You need visual elements to make your site more palatable, but don’t let them be wasted space. Mark them with ALT Tag attributes that include keywords. Avoid going overboard here; search engines know how to spot this and will punish accordingly.
#11 Think Meta
Write a unique, professional meta description for every single page—not only will this help search engine crawlers, it will often show up in the search engine results as well. Consider this description one of the most important pieces of copy on the page. Use keywords and good sales practices to begin getting your customer’s attention before they even click on your link.
Similarly, allow for other meta tags from the very beginning. Depending on the type of website you are running, you may need canonical or robots tags. This is particularly important if you are using tracking codes.
#12 Redirect your Visitors
Redirects are another URL-related SEO strategy that can boost your page rank. You know that people can find you whether they type www or not. So you’re done, right? In fact, when they don’t type in the full URL, they are basically going to an internet generated duplicate of your website. This gets even more convoluted when other websites are linking to a non-www version. Identify your main URL and then program your website to redirect to it. This ensures that you get ‘credit’ with search engines for all of your external links. This can be done on the server side with an .HTACCESS file or with some CMS systems – like with the Ringgle platform, this can set up with the admin panel.
Similarly, you should never completely take down a page of your site, especially one with those valuable internal links. If you want to remove a page, 301 redirect it to its replacement. This way, you won’t lose any of your hard-won SEO footing.
These development strategies may seem simple, but when used together they can have a remarkable effect on your website’s page rank. Plan your website for success from the very beginning and continue to program according to good SEO practices for continued success in the future.
The Psychology of Small Business Web Design
Psychology, business, and web design are three fields that just don’t seem to go together. However, they all come together at times, especially when you are planning a small business website.
By understanding the way certain aspects of design affect the human mind, you can have a website that is both more attractive and more effective for your target audience.
Basic design has a definite, measurable effect on the human psyche. However, before you have a website designed, you need to know exactly what you are trying to communicate.
What exactly do you want to say to potential customers? In most cases, a small business website exists to convey your brand to customers, make them feel at ease with you, and inspire them to take action immediately—preferably, the type of action that brings in profit.
While certain features may make for a more attractive web design, they must never interfere with the true purpose of your website: to serve as a marketing and business-boosting tool.
Making Psychology Work for You
Colors and lines are the most important and effective ways of using psychology to increase the success of your small business website.
By using lines subtly, such as in the background and in images, to draw customers’ eyes to certain elements, you can control the order in which customers experience your website. Colors can be used to add emphasis, enhancing this effect, or to invoke emotion.
Negative space is also important in a website. Empty space gives a readable, uncrowded feeling, but too much of it is a waste and may even give the impression that you have nothing to say.
A professional web designer will know what balance makes customers feel at ease while taking full advantage of every inch of space.
Not only can you use psychology to create different emotions and feelings in your audience, you can also use it to create a sense of priority in your site. Although every element and every word of your website is important, you want to create a clear sense of priority.
Basic principles of psychology can be used to pull customers through your site in the order in which you want for them to experience it.
Testing the Waters
Once you have a website designed, you may want to test it to make sure it is effective. You can do this by putting together a focus group or even by having a few friends check out the website.
Be sure to ask specific questions, such as where their eyes go first when they open your page and what links look the most attractive to them. If your webpage is not getting the desired effects, you can make slight modifications to ensure that customers react exactly as you want them to.
Creating a website is a lot of work—although much of this is done not by you, but by your web designer. You want to get the most out of every pixel and get maximum return from your investment. Knowing how to use psychology in your favor will ensure that your website is a valuable tool for years to come.
Globalize Your Website for a Bigger Customer Base
Internet commerce is one of the best things to happen to the commercial industry. With it, customers from all over the world can flock to your business and shop as if they were right in your neighborhood.
Provided they can find your site, of course.
The Internet is a big place, and customers in foreign markets are more likely to patronize a website from their region and in their own language than they are yours. Is there a way to draw customers to your website, despite the language, regional, and cultural barriers?
Yes, and it’s called globalization.
What is Globalization?
Website globalization is the process of optimizing your website for international audiences. This process can be broken down into two tasks:
- Localization. This is the part of your website that features translated text, so that customers from other countries can read and navigate your site. All outward-facing copy is translated, and a web site can be localized for multiple languages.
- Globalization. Here, you try to make your website more attractive to foreign search engines. This means doing all of the website back-end stuff you did for your English site, only for another language: SEO keywords and the like.
What are the Advantages?
Globalization can provide your business with the following benefits:
- Greater reach. Now that your website has been optimized for foreign language search engines, it will start ranking higher on foreign search results. You have a higher chance of getting traffic from two different markets.
- Better accessibility. Now that your website is attracting foreign traffic, your freshly localized copy should be making it easy for them to navigate and peruse your website. This is the first step in giving them an excellent customer service experience.
- Stronger calls to action. Sales copy has a higher chance of success in foreign markets if it is translated accordingly. Assuming, of course, that you’ve used proper translations and not just Google Translate, which can get things hilariously wrong.
Who Should I Approach?
Although many graphic design firms are perfectly willing to globalize a website, provided you have the translated copy available, it’s probably best to search for companies that are experienced in this kind of project.
Companies that optimize websites for SEO already know which of the back-end fields are important, and need translation. Also, in a project like this you need the agency to have qualities like consistency and thoroughness; because Quality Assurance and testing are going to be doubly hard now that you’re using another language.
The translation, however, is going to be the most important aspect of your project. I’ve already mentioned the dangers of Google Translate, and it bears repeating. The risk of appearing unprofessional is too high.
It’s much better if you go to a professional linguist or translation service. They will convert your copy to the correct language, and can even work with your web developers on translating the back-end details properly, such as file names, meta descriptions, and keywords.
With the cooperation of both the translator and web development team, you’ll end up with a fully translated, foreign-search engine-optimized site. Just make sure that you don’t leave your site static.
Do promotions and advertisements to let your customers know that your newly localized site is out there!
Why You Should Stay Away from Black Hat SEO
The Internet is saturated with online businesses, each scrabbling for higher search engine rankings in order to draw in more customers. When faced with such stiff competition, the dark side of SEO can be very tempting for driving traffic to your website.
Black hat SEO techniques promise quick results for comparatively little effort. You can even hire people to do it for you, if you want to keep your hands “clean” and disavow knowledge that these shady strategies were done with your knowledge.
It’s a temptation that you have to fight if you want your business to last and to thrive in the online marketplace. While there are very real positives to black hat SEO, there are far more negatives—and big ones at that.
The Effects Don’t Last
Although black hat techniques like keyword spamming and link farming can shoot your rankings up in fairly short order, they’re unlikely to bring you any higher in the long run just like with over marketing.
That is because these techniques are relying on “fixed” sources to work. For example, if a website wants to increase a link farm’s effectiveness, the owner has to set up another link farm to do it. And so on and so forth, adding farm after farm, and spending more.
A site grown organically, on the other hand, increases in ranking over time by building relationships with real websites. These “genuine links” count higher towards a website’s search score than fake links (and yes, search engines can tell the difference).
Other white hat techniques bring genuine traffic that increases your rankings and, more importantly, helps deliver more sales.
Black Hat Techniques are Unreliable
Many think they’re clever when they’re using black hat techniques—that they’ve found a sneaky way to get ahead of both their competitors and the search engine companies.
In reality, search engine companies are way ahead of the black hatters. Most, if not all, black hat techniques are already known, and search engines are programmed to detect and flag websites that use them.
To combat keyword spamming, certain search engines are ordered not to read keywords at all, and instead rate a website based on other factors such as interlinking and content quality.
It’s Bad for the Customer
One of the ironclad criteria that search engine developers use when assessing a website (and determining if something is black hat or not) is the question, “Is this helping the visitor?”
Most black hat website SEO techniques are crass, ugly, and do nothing to improve a visitor’s experience. Some websites have almost a thousand words of text that is just an excuse to cram it full of keywords.
It’s a pain to read, and few customers are going to want to do business with that kind of website. What’s the use of being easy to find when the website turns people off? You have to listen to your customer and tweak your SEO campaigns.
Search engine companies hate black hat SEO with a vengeance. They have very strict rules about what constitutes a “good” website, and impose harsh penalties on people caught raising their search engine ranks via illegal methods.
Most of them give you a grace period for you to get your website up to their standards, but noncompliance gets you removed from their search engine or, in extreme cases, shut down entirely.
As I mentioned, search engine companies already know most of the tricks. It’s not a matter of if they find you; it’s when.
So does black hat SEO still sound good to you?