Build a website with SEO or be prepared to get lost amongst all the other terrible DIY websites.
A website is your online real estate – your virtual shop window.
You want it to look tasty and to reel in those clients. To do that you need to, at the very least, know the rudiments of SEO.
Lemme just preface this post by advising you to hire a technical SEO or at least book a consultation with one before you start to build anything.
Just hold tight a minute longer…
Before you get all excited – research your market.
Go and do the unthinkable and spy on your competitors. Take a look at the sites that land on the first page of Google and pay close attention to the copy they use, the structure, and the content of their pages. Make notes.
Ok, here’s how to build a website with SEO know-how.
Think about the keywords you want your site to be found for.
Don’t just concentrate on the broad competitive terms.
Guess what, they’re competitive because loads of other people in your industry are targeting them. Make sure you look at detailed keywords phrases (LTKs), the kind that describes exactly what you offer. That way the right people are going to find you.
Google those words and see what the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) reveal. Check out all the alternative search phrases that Google gives you too.
And be mindful about user intent: what results show on Google when you search a certain keyword? For example, are the results mainly links that sell a product or are the links mostly about information around a subject.
To delve more into the user intent of your keywords, click here.
2. Website platform.
I use WordPress. I always have and probably always will.
CMS websites have come on leaps and bounds since those clunky early days when I started building them. I suggest you shop around and find the right platform for you.
A free website might sound like a really great idea but you probably won’t get a custom domain name (www.thesarkytype.com, for example).
Whatever name you choose will likely have the branding of the platform tagged on the end. A free site can be great if you want a personal blog or you’re a local band, but for a business, it may give the impression that you’re a bit shit and you won’t have the ability to fully customise the site.
Different plans that will vary in cost.
The plan you choose will determine how much control you have customising the site. Especially what kind of access you’ll have to the SEO tools.
You want to have as much control over your SEO as possible. It’s always worth paying more for that access.
3. What’s in a domain name?
It’s a good idea to think about what service you provide and who you provide it to when coming up with a domain name.
A lot of people like to use their business name but often they don’t give any clues as to what they actually do.
Ultimately, it’s your call but you might want to pop a keyword in your website domain name. You also should check if your chosen name is already registered with another business. Now, if a domain name has been taken, your provider will tell you it’s unavailable.
But I’d suggest checking with companies house just to make sure there aren’t any businesses kicking around with your name. Also, take a look at registered trademarks.
Do you have national or international customers?
If you serve local clients, for example, you’re a butcher then choosing a domain name with a suffix of .co.uk makes a lot of sense. But if you’re a remote working freelancer, that helps customers internationally, a .com suffix might be a better option.
A custom domain email looks nice but you might have to pay an extra annual fee.
If you’re a penny-pinching bastard then you can create a domain email that will then forward to another address. WordPress offers this and it’s called email forwarding. If you opt for this, be aware that when you respond to any emails from clients, your real email address will be revealed.
4. User Experience (UX).
Your biggest challenge will be getting people to find you, your next will be keeping them there.
User experience is big news in how well you rank.
We want to encourage dwell time – users sticking around long enough to do something. Everything on your site will leave an impression and evoke a feeling.
You want those feelings to be good feelings. If your colour palette hurts their eyes, or the theme looks like it’s was designed in the 90s, that won’t help people stay for very long.
You want a nice, easy to use website that leads the audience through the content and compels them to take action.
Create pages that you actually need.
Sounds obvious but think about only adding content that’s going to be the most useful to your audience. Each page should be carefully crafted. Imagine them as mini-websites – purpose-built landing pages that not only look great but have valuable, helpful content.
An easy, well-constructed site is great for SEO.
Google will be able to index your pages better, and if you’ve done a really good job you’ll get your site links show up in the SERPs:
5. Call To Action (CTA).
This can be a mix of buttons or links that urge the visitor to do something – to take bloody action, yeah!
You might want them to download your service brochure, book a call, or buy a product.
Make it really easy for them.
People are lazy. If they need to think too hard, or they can’t find what they need, they will leave.
The words you use are the most important tool for getting your site seen.
Well-crafted copy should never be underestimated. Everything you write needs to be about your client, how you solve the problems they’re having and what the benefits to them will be.
Consistent, high-quality content is the most important thing you can do to boost your SEO.
Do you see a pattern forming here? I keep banging on about SEO because, without it, your website is invisible and therefore – pointless.
If you don’t know your market or you don’t have an ideal client, you won’t be able to help them. Every page, even your About Page needs to be about your audience.
Wanna know more about writing great copy? Click here.
7. Have I mentioned SEO?
SEO should inform every aspect of your build.
It’s impossible to talk about the points already mentioned without, well, mentioning it. It has some very technical bits to it. The back-end elements (or as I like to call them – the arse-end elements) are best left to the professionals.
The website plan you choose might only allow limited access to a few of those elements.
SEO plugins are useful but they’re never a substitute for an SEO specialist.
Get your eyeballs on what else you should know about SEO.
- Blog: A website with no blog is like a pub with no beer. It’s a valuable tool to pull in the punters so don’t squander it by not using it as a lead magnet. Remember what I said about adding regular, good content? A blog is how you do that. You need to check out my post – Blog for business: 6 reasons why you should to understand it’s value.
- Permalinks: These are the permanent URLs to your web pages and blog posts. They need to be relevant to the content they point to. Pay close attention to your blog post URLs. You might need to tweak them to display the blog post title. Often the default template URL has tons of numbers and not the actual title of the post – no good when you want potential clients to find that blog post from a Google search!
- Title Tags and Meta Descriptions: Code speak for page titles and page description that land on the SERPs. The title needs to be relevant and eye-catching and the description below it needs to match the targeted keyword and compel the user to hit the link.
- Image SEO: all your images should have relevant titles. Don’t leave them with a file name (IMG12577). Add keywords here and don’t neglect the alt. title field. Make those images work for your SEO.
- Backlinks: Getting good, quality backlinks to your site from well-established websites is gold. You need a link building strategy. Take a look at this blog post to find out more.
- Internal Links: Link new content to other relevant previous content within your site, like I’ve done with this blog post.
- Webmaster Tools: Google and Bing have free webmaster tools. Use them to improve the performance of your site and track how well that’s going.
8. Sweet customisations.
It’s nice to be a bit different from your competitors, yeah, so I have a few ideas that I’ve picked up along the way to help:
HTTP error 404 not found page.
You know that annoying moment when there’s a broken link and you’re sent to the “Page Not Found” page? Now, I don’t want you to have any broken links but shit happens, and often when a visitor gets redirected there, they leave. They lose a little trust and interest on the way and sod off.
So why not use that error page to your advantage:
You could pop a funny little message and get them back to your content. It will impress them, make them laugh and might actually make them get in touch.
You’ve probably filled out a contact form on a webpage. Do you remember what happened when your message was sent? Probably not, might just have had some bollocks saying your message was submitted.
When they send you a message redirect them to some more free, cool helpful stuff, again inject a little personality using a funny GIF to tell them their message has gone.
And what about videos?
Videos are number one in terms of SEO content.
Add them to your blog posts, especially if it’s showing your audience how to do a thing, you can then transcribe that content into a numbered list, and that’s the blog post already done. It makes the experience more interactive, they get to know you, and they stick around on your site for longer – and that’s what you want.
Pop an intro video on your home page, or where your bio is so people get to meet you and see what you’re all about.
Too many pop-ups can be annoying, however, a “Sign Up To The Blog” pop-up before the user leaves is a little nudge for your audience to take action.
General Data Protection Regulation.
This is so boring BUT every business and every website needs to comply with GDPR. You’ve seen those cookie pop-ups, you’ll be able to access your sites’ generic one and enable it. Customise it, make sure you’re upfront about what’s happening with user data.
How secure are you?
When you don’t feel secure you feel rubbish well imagine how your clients will feel when they don’t see that lovely little padlock in the top left-hand corner, especially if people can buy your services online. Who will want to enter their Visa details into that? No one, that’s who!
Make your site personal and approachable, a place where people want to go and hang out for a bit. I really hope you found this useful.
If you want to know more about how I can help, hit the button.
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