Where many website designers miss the boat.SEO is crucial to helping your business thrive, and helps create a credible online presence. SEO is not some flashy accessory you add at the end of your website build-out, but rather an integral part of the website building process. Website SEO is the foundation of your business, the blood that pumps your online presence. When it comes to online marketing and SEO, most companies want to take the easy route in an effort to save time and money. Many companies avoid creating a digital marketing plan, and blindly dive head first into instantly generating an online presence with no clear-cut objectives.
The old adage is right: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Companies who seek instant gratification wind up shooting themselves in the foot, while their competitors who actively develop a digital marketing plan thrive. When you fail to develop a solid website with SEO in mind, you fail to reach your target market, and fail to get the BIG results you’re searching for. Our Orlando web design experts are here to help.
Are We There Yet?
You’ve created your business website, added flashy design concepts, and injected your keywords into your content and meta-descriptions. Boom! You should have increased traffic in no time, a page 1 Google ranking, and an overwhelming amount of inquiries, right? Right? WRONG. You’re hopefulness is adorable though, but adorable doesn’t enhance SEO – unless it involves a bunch of pictures of puppies. Then, you may stand a chance. SEO is not just an add-on, it is a critical element that drives online success and aids with other marketing efforts. It’s the difference between a puppy, and a puppy wearing a top hat and a bowtie – it’s NEXT LEVEL.
Dogs in hats bring guaranteed success.
Essentially, an SEO-friendly website works with a search engine. The search engine should be able to easily read and process your website’s content. The search engine and your SEO-friendly website should work together effortlessly, like you and your first crush strolling through the mall together sharing an Orange Julius. You want to find the best way to BE SEEN, and this is all about enhancing your visibility in search engine results. Always keep search engine optimization in mind to ensure you’re working with the search engine, and not against it. You want to accurately represent your business when creating your SEO-friendly website – this is where that handy digital marketing plan comes into play.
Breakin’ It Down
Let’s discuss the foundation of a website: Domain Names, Hosting, and Security. Domains are best when they are kept simple and are directly correlated with your brand. If someone is searching for your company name, you want to make sure there is a clear path for them to find you. The “.com” version of your brand in a domain name is ideal. Easy, right? Hosting is crucial. People nowadays are generally impatient and won’t wait around on a slow website, they’ll simply move on to your competitor’s site. Your website needs to be fast, and viewable on multiple platforms. Ensuring security is major, as hackers and ever-increasing exploits threaten your website on a regular basis. Be proactive with your CMS and plugin updates to keep everything running smoothly.
Related Content: Responsive Web Design
Accessibility is the Coolest!
Why? Because in order for search engines to crawl your site, they have to be able to easily understand what you’re doing. Sure, the kid who wears shades and doesn’t talk much may initially seem cool, but no one understands him. You know what is cool? Precise language and text-based content. Search engines love when you make their job easy, and they can quickly read about your business offerings. You want to index your content to help move this process along through the use of internal links, images, and videos.
I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Website Structure!
Okay, stop screaming.
Simple organization will help break down the information you want to convey to your audience. Think about an ice cream sundae when it comes to website structure.
- The bowl is your website.
- The ice cream is your brand.
- The hot fudge is what you’re selling.
- The sprinkles are your supporting pages.
You need to properly position the information on your website, like you would properly build an ice cream sundae. The SEO elements are enhanced when information is clearly designated. Your content (services, mission, FAQ, blogs, etc) needs to be arranged in a way to ensure it is easily understandable and navigable. URLs are crucial for furthering your grasp on your online presence, and the convention has the power to make you or break you. For instance:
In this example, the context is clear thanks to long-tail keywords and precise naming. The URLs are easy for both humans and search engines to read and make sense of.
In this example, the URLs inhibit both humans and search engines from easily reading and navigating your website. You want your website to be appetizing and easily digestible, like an ice cream sundae.
Thank you cherry much!
Navigation (Disclaimer: More Ice Cream Analogies).
Your website design needs to be easy navigable. When you walk into an ice cream parlor, each flavor has a designated space and is clearly labeled – this is the type of organization a good website needs. Navigation is crucial; it is how you inform users about your business, your services, your mission, your contact information, etc.
A structured, easily navigated website with cohesive design elements raises awareness for your brand and helps traffic flow smoothly on page. Navigation is not an after-thought to apply after you build your website. Website navigation needs to be carefully planned before you construct the site. When users visit your website, they need to be able to quickly find what they are looking for. Understanding what users want and need is essential here. If users cannot find the information they are looking for on your company website, they will return to their Google search and click on another site.
It’s a Mobile-Friendly World
Cell phones are the #1 device people use to browse the internet. This means, your website MUST have a functional mobile-friendly layout. Users are relying primarily on their mobile device to view your company website; so your mobile design has to be responsive and have an ease in usability.
Users are 5 times more likely to leave a website if it is not mobile-friendly!
A simple mobile-friendly design is nice, but it is not enough. Search engines will review and rank your mobile-friendly site based on ease, responsiveness, and speed. Stick to a mobile-first mentality, and ensure your mobile SEO-friendly website is fully optimized to engage users. Another crucial element in SEO-friendly mobile website design is speed. More than 50% of users will leave a mobile website if it takes more than three seconds to load. So you need to beef up your efforts to draw potential customers in, and keep them there.
If You Don’t Use It, You Lose It
Usability is a MAJOR factor in web design. Your website’s device-specific layout and speed is crucial to creating more traffic to your site. The page layout needs to draw users in and be easily navigable. The important components need to stand out from the other content on your page. Your content needs to be organized, online forms should be easy to fill out, and page design should be eye-catching. Focus on user wants and needs, and think about heightening their experience. You want to do what your competition isn’t doing, or at least get a head start doing it.
Don’t Get Fresh
Keep it fresh! You want to not only maintain brand awareness, but heighten it. Consistently creating new information and ideas only enhances SEO. Fresh content and SEO are the peanut butter and jelly here (a delicious combination) that helps set you apart from the competition your potential customers are scoping out. A good way to think about categorizing your content is to think of it like a funnel, or an ice cream cone. Now let’s put the FUN in the content marketing FUNnel!
Building Brand Awareness: top of the funnel.This content is usually registration-free and obligation-free. You showcase your experience and company’s credibility via blogs, informative articles, webinars, educational emails, case studies, and FAQs.
Consideration: middle of the funnel. This content is for more promising prospects, and sometimes involves the user providing an email address in exchange for more information. The practical content needs to give you an advantage over your competition. This content involves product/service information, demo videos, and user guides.
Conversion: bottom of the funnel.This is your most substantial content in the form of testimonials, reports, reviews, and free consultations. This content should drive conversions and promote sales.
Who Knew Web Design for SEO Was SO Complicated?
There are many different factors to consider before you build your website. That is why you always want to have a solid digital marketing strategy in place. Customer needs, search engine readability, mobile-friendly layout, speed, and structured content are all essential elements. Once a solid foundation is in place, you can focus on optimizing your website.
What’s the Word, Hummingbird?
Why are we talking about this little bird? Google Hummingbird is a search algorithm that was added in 2013 that relates to how Google understands your content. Over time, the Google search algorithms get smarter and smarter. This one can actually read your mind. Not really, but its pretty close. Because of this update, the search function can understand the intent of what you are searching, instead of just matching words together. It knows not just what you are searching, but WHY you are searching. If you’re up late looking for pizza delivery…Google knows why. So what does that mean for keyword research and content planning? Your approach should address the needs of our audience, not just provide them with facts.
You can use a tool like answerthepublic.com to type in your main keyword and find related questions that people are asking about that topic online. If you plan your content around answering those questions, that helps make you an authority on that subject.
HTML Title Tag Swag.
Every page needs a title tag, as it defines the title of the document. This tag is small, but mighty. It has the power to influence your search engine results and directly influence your position. While keywords are important, never lose sight of click-through and readability. May we make a few recommendations?
- Always place your keyword focus for the page at the beginning of the tag.
- Make sure it’s between 50-60 characters.
- Do not keyword-stuff your title tags.
- Keep your approach consistent.
- Separate different elements with – or |.
- Focus on click-through and usability.
Meaty Meta Descriptions
An optimized meta description is absolutely essential for SEO. A clean summary of a page’s content will show up in search results, and help you get the clicks – see what we did there? More clicks mean more visibility and more website traffic for your business. Make your meta descriptions meaty: create an accurate description of the page content, organically implant relevant keywords, and satisfy the needs of your potential customers. You want to draw attention to your website over the competition’s site. The search engine highlights the user’s search terms within the meta description, which allows for quick examination of the information provided.
Page Content Nuts and Bolts.
All good page content starts with strong heading tags that structure the information appropriately. Your heading tags will help improve rankings and organize the content. You want your information to be clear and connective for users, and you want to reflect that through cohesive design choices and strong content. Your content is the MVP of your website – it needs to be engaging, accurate, and contain clear context. Don’t be boring – no one wants to read boring content! Avoid clobbering your content with forced keywords; keywords need to be used organically, preferably within the first 50 words of content. Maintain structure, and incorporate synonyms throughout the content. Keep it interesting, informative, and engaging.
Take a Picture – It’ll Last Longer
Seriously, image SEO can direct a great deal of traffic to your site. A great image can make your website more appealing. For now, Google is not using the content of images, so the context within your website is super important. For instance, if we decided to look up clown masks (we’re about to instantly regret this), the search engine would pull up a bunch of terrifying images. Don’t try this at home. I can scan through the vast collection of image results, click on the image I like the best, and I will be directed to the site where I can purchase said clown mask. This is where optimizing your images is crucial – you want to stand out from the rest in the vast sea of image search results. Here are some general rules for image optimization:
- Try to use more than just stock photos. The goal here is to stand out, and you won’t do that with unoriginal images. An original image positively impacts the SEO benefits.
- Choose your pictures wisely. Your image should complement your content.
- Be mindful of copyright. Do not use an image with a potential copyright conflict. Anything you pull from a Google image search will likely get you into trouble.
- Learn the best practices for jpeg, png and gif formats.
- Enhance image optimization with descriptive captions.
- Create keyword-rich descriptions for images. This description will notify search engines about the subject matter of your image. For instance: if you’re selling clown masks, you could name an image as such. If you want to truly differentiate, be more descriptive; demonic clown mask is more easily understood by both users and search engines.
- Create alt-tags. If your image cannot load properly for some reason, the user will still be able to see what the image is supposed to be.
- Add social media sharing buttons to your site. This drives more traffic to your website if someone shares your image direct from the location on your site.
- Resize your images. The image should be the correct size that you need before uploading it. Unnecessarily large image files will slow down your load time.
Whoops! Common Website Mistakes
- Duplicate Content. Roughly 50% of websites have duplicate content issues. Duplicate content is similar pieces of content across domains. Original content is valued by both search engines and users. You could also face a slap on the wrist from Google. Be unique.
- Missing Alt Tags and Broken Images. Poor user experience directly affects SEO.
- Broken Links. Nonfunctional links are dead ends for both users and search engines. This leads to decreased rankings.
- Problematic Title Tags. Duplicate title tags, text length issues, and missing title tags. Title tags are one of the most important aspects of SEO, so any issues need to be resolved immediately.
- Duplicate or Missing Meta Descriptions. A meta description can be a deal maker or deal breaker when it comes to a user clicking on your site.
- Keyword Cannibalization. When multiple pages on your website target the same keywords, no single page can significantly stand out.
- Site Availability. When your website is available on multiple domains and subdomains, it can have too many variations. Your brand should only be represented on one indexed domain name. This can be easily fixed with URL redirects or blocking other sites with the same brand from being crawled and indexed.
A solid web design for SEO is the stepping stone for your business to succeed in the digital world. As you can see, website design for SEO is an intricate process with many elements. Our goal is to empower you with the knowledge you need to help your business soar.