When building a website from scratch, to make it both usable for visitors and optimized for the major search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing for good visibility, findability and traffic, some SEO components need to be incorporated into the design of the site and its architecture right from the get-go. Sure you can develop a website without SEO strategies in place and later optimize it but it’s most efficient to do it from the beginning. It’s like building a house with hardwood floors and taupe paint with the intention to later change it to carpet flooring and olive green paint. Changes can of course be made but it will eat up additional time and resources.
With each passing year, companies increasingly understand the importance of sound SEO strategies for the successful online performance of websites. After all, your website could be the sleekest and prettiest of all websites but if it is not structured properly and ergo doesn’t rank well up the SERPs, what’s the point?
8 SEO components to incorporate into the design and architecture of a website from the very beginning
1. Avoid “code bloat” by keeping the website layout as simple as possible
With HTML and CSS, there are a thousand and one ways to achieve any result you want but that does not necessarily mean that all the solutions are created equal. To avoid “code bloat”, keep the layout of your website as simple as possible and avoid using unnecessary code. You may think the extra code is harmless as long as the website looks good for users but this is not the case. For a start, simple code is recommended because it is more likely to work in different browsers. Then of course unnecessary code means bigger files and therefore slower page load times as well as increased chances of crawling issues.
2. Use simple-to-understand URLs
URLs with words that are relevant to your site’s content and structure are friendlier for visitors. So if you’re trying to determine what type of URL structure to use with your new website, remember that visitors may be intimidated by extremely long and cryptic URLs. Search engines like Google are good at crawling all types of URL structures but making your URLs as simple as possible is a good SEO practice because they clearly convey the subject matter of your content.
3. Keep your website navigation simple and descriptive
When building a new website, a key consideration is keeping the navigation structure simple and efficient to make it easy for visitors as well as the search engines to follow. In fact, many eye-tracking and usability studies have shown that the best positions for a website’s main navigation menu is either across the top of the page or vertically down the left side.
4. Use a responsive website design
Following Google’s Mobile Update AKA “Mobilegeddon” rolled out on April 21, 2015, it’s now vital for websites to be mobile friendly so visitors can properly access them regardless of which device they are on. A dedicated mobile site can work as well but a responsive website design is Google’s recommended configuration.
5. Social media integration
Following extensive speculation that Google uses social signals from Facebook and Twitter in their search algorithm, we now have the confirmation that this is not currently the case. However, it’s hard to overlook the indirect benefits of social media for business websites. Social media sharing propels your content around the web and that’s a fact you can’t dismiss easily. This of course translates into mentions and more links. It also builds your brand awareness, credibility and authority.
6. Optimize images
If you are building a website, images may seem like a straightforward component, but in truth, you can and should optimize your use of them. Ideally, all images should have a distinct filename and a brief but descriptive “alt” attribute. The “alt” attribute in particular is useful. Among other things, it allows you to specify a text for an image if, for some reason, it cannot be displayed.
7. Keyword research and content
Next up, for any website design project, performing keyword research from the get-go not only has SEO benefits but it also improves the website’s overall user experience. After all search begins with a few words typed in a box. Ranking for the right keywords can make or break a website so knowing the topics and sub-topics your visitors are looking for can help you decide how to structure and name your navigation bars, category pages and product pages. Then of course creating compelling and useful content will influence your website more than any of the other factors discussed here. To optimize your content for SEO, write better anchor texts and use heading tags appropriately.
8. About site speed
And finally, fast and optimized pages lead to higher visitor engagement, retention and conversions. According to an infographic on Kissmetrics, website abandonment threshold is now three seconds for desktop and five seconds for mobile.