Most people develop their website and then focus on S.E.O. 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.
Many websites are designed by professional developers, but then they have to be basically torn apart by S.E.O 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 S.E.O tactics that you should keep in mind when planning and developing your site.
#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 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.
#2 Plan a Static U.R.L Structure
Dynamic URLs are common in modern web design, but they present an S.E.O nightmare for a variety of reasons. Develop your site without them. Choose static URLs and base them on your keywords from the very beginning.
#3 Think Outside the Site
Many of the best SEO development tools come from outside your actual site. 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.
#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.
#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.