Recently I had a one to one with an SEO specialist that I work with and we went over points that affect the ranking of a website, both from the design perspective and development.
When designing and developing a website one can easily get side tracked and get carried away with the design and features of the site, which all can be quite overwhelming, especially if it’s the first time you are building a site for your business. The thought of how this new website would perform in search engines may not even cross your mind at this early stage, and in some cases may not even be in the business plan.
When building a website many points come into mind, from how the design is going to be, the features and modules that need to be developed, how to make the site function and work the way it should be, and also the general mechanics of the whole online experience. All of these points are probably going though the website owners mind, on how they can relay and portray this to the development team, to make their thoughts come reality. As part of all this one also needs to ensure that the website that they are having built can be found by search engines, when it comes to SEO, it’s not just one point that will be the deciding factor of where you rank in search results, in fact its a whole network of factors that all work together to help search engines determine where to position you in the results.
Many of the times we need to work with the designers and the development team to ensure that all points are taken care of when building a perfect website, this will save us hassle and cost in the coming future. I’m going to try to keep this as short and simple as possible, covering all the main points, a website owner needs to cover when working with the designer and developer to build the perfect website so that once the website is built you will not need major structural changes when you start with a full fledged SEO campaign.
So what are the main on the page factors that affect SEO?
Content: We may have heard this over and over again, but content is the main reason why users will come to your site. Whether its text, images, or videos, it’s what attracts customers. One of the main points where business websites fail online is due to poor content. The designer and developer have built a wonderful site, which is what they have been hired for, but the business owner has not put much thought into the content of the website. Most of the time the content is copied and pasted from competitor’s websites, with a few words changed here and there. Fair enough the site is complete, but from an SEO point of view, the content is very poor. When building a site, the same amount of devotion and effort also needs to be given to the text of the website, which is being given to the design and development, as it all works together.
All in all the pages of your website all need to be well written and informative, and have a decent amount of text on them.
As part of putting good quality content, one also needs to look at how they can keep their site fresh with new content. Besides setting aside time to come up with new content, it can be quite a task for a general business owner to constantly come up with fresh content all the time for the website.
One of the easiest ways of implement fresh content on the site is:
- Business Blog: Many business’ are adapting to having a business blog, but still many out there do not have a blog, having a blog which is constantly updated will add fresh content and create a platform for a social connect with the visitors , as you are providing new content, every time you post and share on your social media accounts. You may want to consider adding a blog onto your business website solely for the purpose that you can post relevant content frequently.
- News / Events Page: Similar to blog, something less effortless is having a news and events page, which will create new page, with your company news, and events that you hold or attend. The events page can also be in the format of a calendar, which will create a calendar event every time you post a new event and the links shared on social media.
Specific Coding (HTML)
This is more the responsibility of the developer, but as a website owner one needs to be aware of this, and at times even work and educate the developer to do code the site accordingly, by placing relevant text in correct coding format.
When developing the site, one thing to make sure is that the Title Tags and the Meta Description of all of your pages are different and as per the context of the page, and the Title Tag contain relevant keywords that is related to that specific page. Along side these Meta codes, the body of the page should be positioned well, with relevant headings and sub headings using the correct header tags (H1). When providing the content of your website to your development team, inform them clearly that these are the titles you want for so and so pages. In Microsoft Word, you can give headings to Titles, using the style tab. This will help your developers understand the headings. Also if this is copied pasted into a CMS platform, most of them will automatically add the relevant H1 tags.
Design & Development
Besides the overall look and theme, the site needs to load quickly. Care should be taken with the graphics, and the features, that have been designed and developed, that when putting them to test on the World Wide Web, you may find your site takes forever to load. As part of keeping a good visual appeal aim to maintain the load speed of your site as low as possible. This will not only keep your visitors happy, with a smooth loading website, but also keep the search engines happy.
Search engine friendly – Crawl
As part of the development, its best to ensure that your website is easily accessible by the search engines, so that they can crawl through all of your pages, without any issues. Having good navigations, and a good internal linking system will help in this along with an XML sitemap.
Extra care should be given to URLS, especially when building CMS websites, many of the times they generate ugly urls which look something like: YourDomain.com/category/page2-%?ID2=name-of-page
Great, you can create pages from your backend admin, but the URL is not good for the users to remember and also the search engines will not be impressed as its not SEO friendly. The URLS need to be short and at the same time contain information about that page or keyword. Such as: YourDomain.com/about-us/company-history or if its an ecommerce site something along these lines: YourDomain.com/CatogeryName/product-name
We all enjoy images, as it makes the website more exciting, and enjoyable to view. If you are providing images to the development team, the key is to ensure that the images are not very large. Most designers will change the size of the images to make sure it loads quickly. At the same time from an SEO prospective, ensure that the images have relevant descriptions e.g. in the Alt text of the coding. Many of the times to make things easier, if you provide the images along with the description tag to your development team.
We usually write technical stuff about SEO, design, development…etc. but this time I thought of writing some points about how a website owner who may not know or have minimum knowledge about HTML, SEO or technical stuff can become a qualitative part of the development process.
The above points are the little things that matter much where care needs to be given on the on page side of developing a good Search Engine Friendly website. In my next article I will cover the basics of how your off page activities will help your website rank in search results.
I am not saying that as a website owner one needs to get into the technical details but by contributing and participating in the process as much as one can, content wise and concept wise related to his niche industry. Will give a better understanding of how the whole website works.
We all know that we create a website for the user who has the potential of becoming a customer. When the website owners inputs their points from the business point of view and also ensuring the website is being done according to how they want it, which gets translated by the web developer in the form of a perfect website, the outcome will surely sow the seeds for online success.