Here’s a glimpse of what happens in the world of digital marketing, from the angle of an agency:
Someone hires a developer to help them design a stunning website for their business. Upon completion, they’re handed their login details and everything else, and it’s then that they come looking for an agency to help them optimize the site for search engines.
Well, this is a kind of thinking that’s way overdue and one that’s likely to drown you in frustration and drag you far behind in your marketing campaign.
Here’s the deal: SEO should never be treated as an afterthought. If anything, it should be among the first things you consider even before you decide on who you’ll be hiring to design your website for you.
Of course, you’re interested in your site ranking well in the SERPs for a list of niche terms. So it’s crucial that you consider how you’ll be making it happen right from the initial stages of building your website.
In other words, your website has to be built for search engine success, and NOT dragged aside as some afterthought that would be revisited later on after the site is complete.
To help you take the right approach right at the onset of laying the ground for your web presence, we’ve compiled a list of five crucial steps that we believe will be helping you keep an eye on all the essential SEO elements of web designing:
Step One: Keyword Research
The process of keyword research doesn’t have to start after your site is up. Instead, it’s among the few things that should concern you right after you make the mental note to start your online business or to set up an online extension of your business.
It should be among the things that give you sleepless night starting from that first day you thought about creating a website.
Ranking is essential for business, but it’s NOT as important as being found for a combination of keywords with a high search query. It’s also not as important as being found for keywords that are most relevant to your line of business.
You need to start by finding out which particular list of keywords has the highest conversion history. In this way, you can tell if the keywords are even worth competing for in the first place.
Otherwise, you’ll be wasting your time competing for a list of keywords that have no tangible value in real-time.
Once you’ve listed all the keywords you’d want to rank for right at the beginning of launching your website, the next thing you’d want is to figure out how you’ll be structuring your website and marketing strategy to propel your website to a prime spot in the SERPs for that particular list of keywords.
Step Two: Information Architecture
Now with the keywords research process out of your way, it’s time you figured out how you’ll be assigning each keyword phrase to your webpages, together with how those pages will be structured and laid out to make up your website.
SEO isn’t magic. Everything you plan on accomplishing has to be planned well ahead of time.
“Content is key,” you’ve probably heard about that already. So make a point to prepare the content to back up the list of keywords you want to target way ahead of time.
Don’t be too excited about it to over-optimise the keywords. The general rule of thumb is to focus on optimising two or three of the keywords phrases per page. Any number that’s bigger than that is an over-optimisation.
So if you have 1200 search phrases to target, you’ll be required to produce at least 400 pages of content.
Step Three: Copywriting
At this point, your web project is starting to materialise. You only have a few things to work on, and the entire project will be completed.
For this stage, you can go ahead and begin the process of crafting your web content. Don’t underestimate the work involved; this could be the most onerous task of all.
First, you have to figure out the right tone, and which you’ll be maintaining throughout the course of running your website. The tone you choose must also be one that effectively communicates with your target audience. It should strike a chord with them, and make them feel like you’re a person they’ll have an easy time getting along with should your paths ever cross.
Your articles need to be exceptionally good. Their quality must be good enough to convince your readers that you’re a real professional who understands the craft of good writing.
Just as important is how you’ve optimised the content for search engines. You want to make sure you have integrated two or three of the keyword phrases you came up with to stay on the favourable side of search engines.
You don’t, however, need to go overboard with it. The keywords you’re targeting must naturally blend with the article you’re writing. If it fails — well and good, don’t go out of your way to force them.
Generally, it’s recommended that you have at least 400 words of copy on your home page and 250 words in your interior pages. If you need competitive keywords to rank we are talking about 800-1000 words.
You’re also expected to be super careful with the keywords that you use on the first paragraph of your content. You want to make sure that you’ve at least featured one of your primary keyword phrases in the first paragraph.
But again, don’t force it. If it doesn’t work out itself, that’s still fine so long as the quality of the article is good enough to get your target readers hooked in straight away.
Step 4: Design and Development
Your site doesn’t need to be ugly because you’ve optimised it for search engines.
But yeah, search engines love sites that are pretty simple and straightforward. You’ve probably heard about that, but what it actually means is that they like it when everything is clear and and less complicated.
For all we know, all that styling and over-complicated structure usually stand in the way of spiders crawling your site to index the content you have.
So you might want to keep things a little bit simple, while still using CSS to do some creative work with regards to your site’s aesthetics. What we’re saying is that it’s possible to please both search engines and your eyes, and here are a few tips to help you out:
Instead, try to use a lot of HTML and texts where possible, and where you need to style it, focus on using CSS most of the time. By doing this, you’ll be structuring your website in a manner that search engines love without compromising on its aesthetics.
- The site’s design doesn’t have to be affected by your SEO effort. All you have to do is to find a way to strike a balance between the looks and your SEO effort, and you’d have figured out a solution to your problem.
A simple trick would be to use your main keywords in the header tags and match them up nicely with your title tags. Of course, it will take search engines sometime before they crawl and index the site for those keywords, but when they do, your website should be able to rank on its own, even with no content boost.
iii. Use this link to check the code on your site http://validator.w3.org/. You might also be interested in finding out if your website is accessible: here’s a link to help you out https://www.webaccessibility.com/.
Step 5: Ensure there’s a Smooth Transition.
Now, this is where you sign up for Google Analytics. At this point, your site must be up and running, and there’s only one way for it — and that is forward.
You want to make sure you know where your web traffic is coming from. Be sure to find out all there’s to know about your current rankings; like which ones among them are driving the most traffic, leads, and sales.
Even more important is to ensure that all the page links are working perfectly fine by redirecting to their corresponding web pages.
The Nuts and Bolts of SEO in General
As you can see, there’s more to consider while optimising your website for SEO other than some of the familiar elements you’re already aware of.
And now that you’ve already laid down a solid foundation for your website, we can go ahead and talk about load speed and all there’s to know about on-page optimization and the rest of the elements.
Your audience’s patience is at stake here. You only have a few seconds to keep them waiting or be thrown out of their consideration completely.
You have to figure out how to make your web pages lean, and you’d be surprised by how important that is to rank in the SERPs.
Go head and subject your website site to Google’s mobile-friendly test and find out how good you’re doing in that department. With this tool, you’ll get all the feedback you need concerning the mobile speed, mobile friendliness status, and desktop speed of your site.
Also provided will be some handy report on how to improve the loading speed of your website.
Mobile Friendly Design
By now you must already know that the bulk of the visitors you’ll be getting will be accessing your site using a mobile device. This is a mobile-first age. Meaning, you have no option but to make sure your website is mobile-friendly if at all you want to realise any form of online success.
How your site loads on mobile must be quite similar to how it appears on a desktop, NOT jumbled up and stuff. So while you’re working on optimizing your site for the search engines, you should be directing the same amount of consideration to its mobile layout.
This could NOT have been an issue a few years back. But after smartphones became a thing, consumers have resorted to using their mobile devices as their first and most used device for online interactions. And this isn’t going to change any time soon.
To come up with a mobile-friendly design for your website, you have to start by thinking like a mobile search user. Think about their needs and wants and figure out how you’d have preferred the site look and function.
Forget about how you access your site on a desktop. For all we know, users don’t use their phones the same way they use their computers. It doesn’t matter if the bulk of the conversions you’re getting are from mobile. You’re still required to make it work on mobile devices as well if at all you want to be on the safe side of Google and other search engines.
Web usability encapsulates a series of factors: design conventions, device-specific design, and intuitiveness. In other words, you’re designing your site with your targeted users in mind.
On the issue of usability, here’s everything you need to consider while setting up your website:
Make sure that all the crucial elements on your site are given more prominence. Which is to say, they should be easy to take note of on your first casual glance.
By visual hierarchy, what is meant is that you should figure out how to make the crucial elements on your site bigger than the rest of the content. This applies to CTAs mostly.
These are like the signpost direction that your users will be using to trace the content they’re interested in without straining much or incurring any form of hardship. A user should be able to figure out where to find a particular item on your site upon landing, and without getting lost while on site.
If you’re looking to set up a large site with loads of content, menu items, and submenus, then you should at least try to create a search option that’s well positioned and bold enough to be noticed.
The forms you make should be lightweight and easy to fill.
The overall design of your website should be gratifying and easy to navigate. Users should intuitively figure out how to use it without contacting you for help.
Usability is a broad concept, and this section of the post barely scratches the surface of what it entails.
Content Marketing Funnel
Improving your website will always be an ongoing process. At no point will you ever feel like you’ve done pretty enough, and that’s it.
Don’t let a day pass without doing anything to drive your site to the front of your prospective customers. It should be the first thing they see whenever they make any attempt to prompt search engines with a search term relating to your field.
You might NOT get there for some of the keywords, but that’s NOT to say that you shouldn’t at least try.
And it’s NOT just content you’re creating. Your content has to be well-structured and planned in advanced. That said, here’s a simple content marketing funnel to help you out with that:
Top of the Funnel: Awareness content
This includes all informational and educational posts you make. It could be to help your customers understand some of the problems they’re facing and offer them a solution, or to illustrate your own experiences.
- It includes the following list of content:
- Blog posts
- Comprehensive Guides and How-to’s
- Informational articles.
Middle of the Funnel: Consideration content
This is the content that helps your users make a decision. It’s the content that they’ll be using to compare with what’s being offered on the market. And it includes:
- Case Studies
- User Guides
- Product demonstration videos
- Product or service information
Bottom of the Funnel: Conversion Content
This one encourages your prospects to make a purchase or take action. It includes:
- Free Trial
- Free Consultation
Web designing has so many moving parts, and so is SEO. To sum up everything, this article encourages you to be forearmed. That’s the only way you can be sure you’re doing the right thing when you finally decide to go through with launching your website.
As always, we’re open for a chat just in case you need anything clarified or our help in creating a full functional, SEO-friendly website for your business.