Top tips for integrating SEO into website design

Top tips for integrating SEO into website design

Over the years, finding your way to the top of Google organic rankings has become more difficult, both through some of the ranking loopholes that websites previously exploited being closed by Google, and with more websites competing for the same customers.

In recent years, many marketers have viewed search engine optimisation (SEO) as an add-on—something to look at once a website has been built and launched.

Having been involved in a range of web projects, some of which have integrated SEO into the website development process and many of which haven’t, I’m going to make the argument for why you should integrate SEO into website development process from the very start.

What is search engine optimisation (SEO)?

Search engine optimisation is a complex digital marketing function that seeks to ensure your target audience finds your website in organic search engine results when searching for topics related to your organisation online.

It encompasses a number of areas including:

  • website design and development
  • page content
  • external websites linking to you

It’s important to get the website design and development part right - after all building your website is usually one of the most expensive aspects of your marketing budget, and it’s also one of the hardest to fix when something goes wrong.

Site structure and navigation

Making sure people (and Google) can find your content easily is the key role of your site structure and navigation. Mapping your site structure before you’ve even begun your design can help you visualise how all the pages work together logically. This can also help you work out how different services and topic groupings can be arranged.

Segment your services, products and topics into keyword groups

Analysing the keywords relevant to your business, in addition to their search volumes and ranking difficulty is an important early step in any well-developed website development plan.

Understanding what and how people are searching for terms relevant to your business lets you build your website around your users. This gives you the best chance of picking up new business from people who find you via unbranded search.   

URL structure

The URL structure of your website is also important as it lets you map out your site against your agreed site structure before you have begun the build, as well as plan how to build relevant keywords into your URLs in the most effective way.

This will help the client and your developers envisage the structure of the website before any code has even been written, minimising the chance of expensive, time consuming rewrites further into the development process.

Internal navigation

When you’ve done all the hard work to get users onto your website, you want to keep them there as long as possible. Your navigation and internal linking are crucial to increasing time on site and ensuring that your users come back.  A good example is the BBC news site.

As a website primarily concerned with the latest news, it is easy to see how the BBC news page is structured around grouping and presenting information in a way that users can easily scan the page to find articles they are interested in reading.

Be careful with the use of web technologies

There are plenty of web technologies such as JavaScript that are used in the creation of the apps that you can download from Apple Store and Google Play. Unfortunately, these technologies don’t tend to work very well on the web due to the ways that search engines discover and index content.

Optimise for accessibility (and you optimise for search engines)

Accessibility is a bit of a dirty word among many website designers and developers - but I think it’s got bit of a bad rap over the years.

The way to look at accessibility is that what’s good for your website’s accessibility is good for your rankings.

Now that browsers have taken over many of the tasks such as resizing fonts and font contrast, accessibility for websites now consists of areas should be best practice for any website. These include:

  • Using alt text for all images
  • Validated HTML and CSS
  • Having all text as HTML (i.e. not including text in graphics)
  • Transcribing video content onto the page

Like internal linking, good accessibility leads to an enhanced user experience, as well as letting Google index pages correctly. You can find out more about accessibility guidelines here.

So there you have it - a quick guide to incorporating SEO throughout your website design and development process, and why it should be a priority.

To find out more about search engine marketing, attend CIM's specialist training course.

Damon Rutherford Digital Marketing Consultant Digitator
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