Getting your website ranked in the search engines is a matter of showing the search engines what search terms your website is relevant for. It’s always easier to establish this SEO relevancy when you “bake” the optimization right into your site.
In this post, we’ll explore how to build a website with SEO in mind and I’ll show you 5 ways to bake the SEO right into your site. Before we get into specifics, I want to show you some of the key themes you need to follow when you’re creating a website you want to rank well in the search engines.
First, you want to create great content. Google is in the business of showing searchers the best, most relevant websites for their search terms. In order to rank well you want to be one of those websites. Create useful, interesting content that searchers will find valuable.
You also need your website to be structured well. Your navigation should be clean and your pages should contain links to each other. An easy to use Content Management System (like WordPress or HubSpot) will take care of most of this for you when you’re building a new site.
Once you have the foundation of a valuable, easy to use website that provides a great user experience that is hosted on a foundation:
5 Ways to Build a Website with SEO in Mind
1. Make it Responsive
In 2015, your website has to be mobile friendly. The easiest way to do that is to use a responsive CMS like WordPress or HubSpot. If you use WordPress you’ll need to make sure your chosen theme is responsive so your site will be optimized for delivery on any desktop, tablet or smartphone.
Google announced and implemented an algorithm update on April 21, 2015, penalizing sites in mobile searches if they aren’t mobile friendly. Depending on your audience, mobile search traffic to your site can be as high as 50% or more of your visitors. So the first step in SEO friendliness is building a mobile friendly site.
2. Make it Fast
Google has also told the world that website load speed is now a factor in their algorithm. Google looks for sites that will load as quickly as 2 seconds. They have even provided a Site Speed Tester so webmasters can determine their site load speed and see any issues with code that may be slowing your website down.
Build your site for speed and test it before launch to get that load speed under 2 seconds.
3. Know Your Keywords
The cornerstone of any SEO campaign is keyword research. If you plan to try to get your website ranked in Google and other search engines, you need to know what terms you want to get rankings for.
In order to develop a solid target keyword list, you should combine your knowledge of your products and services with the problems of your target customers. Come up with a small “seed list” of keywords and then perform your keyword research to see exactly what searchers are typing into the search engines.
You can find out what searchers are typing in by using a few free and easy tools.
Google AdWords – Use the keyword tool in Google AdWords to get search volume and suggested related keywords for your seed list.
Ubersuggest.org – Use Ubersuggest.org to develop a comprehensive list of potential keyword terms based on the ones you’ve found in AdWords.
Soovle.com – This a great tool that shows you the “suggested” or “instant” results for terms related to your target list in Google and 6 other search engines. You can see “in real time” the terms their searchers are most likely looking for.
4. Build Pages for Your Keywords
Now that you know the keywords you want to rank for, you need to build pages for those keywords. Each page on your site should have a primary keyword target and up to two secondary keyword targets. This applies to blog posts as well.
When you’re writing a new post, organize your topics and themes around your keywords and use them strategically in your content. Don’t “stuff” the page full of keywords – Google doesn’t like that anymore – but look for opportunities in your text to use your keywords.
For example, the target keyword for this post is “business blog examples.” If you read through the post you’ll spot where I used the term “business blog” where I could have used just “blog.” This is for the added SEO benefit.
5. Titles, Descriptions, Headers, URLs and Alt Image Tags
In addition to your content, there are 4 main areas you need to work your keywords into on a page you intend to get ranked in the search engines.
The Title Tag (not the title of a blog post) is the most critical of all on-page factors. Your primary keyword should be the first thing in your Title Tag. Let’s take a look at the same blog post:
You can see the target term “business blog examples” is the first phrase in the title tag.
Meta Descriptions are also important in SEO if only because the keywords you use in your Meta Description will tend to be bold in the searchers’ results, which tends to increase click-throughs to your site. Let’s take a look at the same SERP results when I type “business blog examples” into Google to find it:
You can see that the keyword is highlighted in the description.
Headers are the H1-H5 tags you should use to separate your page into scannable pieces. Here is an example of H3 tags on the same post:
Notice one of the secondary terms, “business blogging best practices,” is the Header tag. It’s also at the end of the Title Tag but Google cut it off in its SERP display.
It’s always a good idea to get your target keyword into the URL of a page whenever you can. You’ll notice from the two screenshots of Google SERPs above, just like in the Meta Description, when the keyword appears in the URL, it is bolded in the search result.
Alt Image Tags
By far, this is the most ignored aspect of on-page SEO. When you upload a picture to your website, your CMS should ask you for an alt image tag. These tags were developed by the search engines to assist blind web searchers. An added benefit of the tags is that while the search engines can’t “see” your picture (not yet anyway), the alt image tags can let them know what the picture is about.
You can use this strategically on your website by avoiding image names and alt image tags like logo-1 or pool-screenshot.
So while this screenshot from the same post could have the alt image tag of “river pools” or “example 1”, we went with something different.
We used the alt image tag of “business blog example 1 – river pools.”
It has the keyword without being “keyword stuffy” and is actually a better explanation of what the picture represents to a web searcher.
Now You Can Build A Website With the SEO Built In
5 ½ – Rich Snippets
So, what’s with the ½ a tip here? Do you know what Rich Snippets are? If not, this is a great bonus tip for you. If so, you know that I can’t cover everything you need to know about Rich Snippets in these few paragraphs.
So we’ll call this ½ a tip, a bonus!
Rich Snippets are structured data that tell the search engines exactly what your website is about so they can deliver an enhanced listing for your page in their results.
In other words – Rich Snippets improve your SEO, make your website look awesome in search results, and help generate more traffic to your site.
You can learn all about them at schema.org.
Some examples of Rich Snippets include:
Rating / Reviews
You can see how these Rich Snippets can drastically change they way your site is displayed in the search engines.
Using them well will get you more traffic to your site and make you look like an SEO pro.
If you want to discover more about how your website can bake the SEO right in give us a call.