How to build a website with SEO in mind
This is a lovely little overview on DIY website building. It’s not a step-by-step guide based on one particular platform, rather more me, brain-dumping my knowledge for your viewing pleasure.
A website is your online real estate – your virtual shop window, as it were. 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 specialist in 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 words they use and the structure and content of their pages.
Do the same for the keywords and key phrases you want to be FOUND for. 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.
Take a look at the Related Articles at the bottom of this page. It will help you with more info on keywords and organic traffic.
I now use WordPress and I’ve found most CMS (Content Management System) setups are very similar. And they have come on leaps and bounds since those clunky early days so I suggest you shop around and find the right one for you.
They’ll offer different plans that will vary in cost. The plan you choose will determine how much control you have customising the site and especially the SEO tools.
You want to have as much control over SEO as possible. It’s always worth paying more for that access
What’s in a name?
I always think it’s a good idea to think about what service you provide and who your chosen market is when you decide what the site is going to be called. You need to also check if your chosen name is already registered with another business.
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 again, you won’t have the ability to fully customise the site.
This is all about where your clients are based. If you are a national, regional or local business then I would opt for a .co.uk. If your clients are international then a .com might be a better choice.
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 could create a pretend domain name email for appearances that will then forward to another address. Sneaky.
Your biggest challenge will be getting people to find you, your next will be keeping them there. And guess what, there’s a term for this – dwell time. Everything you do will leave an impression – evoke a feeling, so if the colour palette is off and your branding just doesn’t work it will impact negatively. Less is more when choosing your colours and they sure as hell better work well together!
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 – a purpose-built landing page for each one that not only looks great but that has valuable, helpful content.
CTA (Call To Action)
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, imagine they are all total dummies. If they need to think too hard, or they can’t find what they need, they will leave
An easy, well constructed site is great for SEO. The crawler-bots 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:
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 ideal client, how you solve the problems they’re having and what the benefits to them will be.
Consistent, high-quality content is currently 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.
SEO is a shifting sand and the algorithm changes. It’s something you can NEVER stop doing
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. Read my previous blog post on How To Write Great Content For Your Business for some really bloody helpful insights.
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 previous post on Why The Bloody Hell Aren’t You Blogging? to see why you should be.
- 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.
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. Maybe invite them to an instant chat, if they need help or can’t find something.
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 know more about how I can help, hit the button below: