You would’t start a house from the roof, would you? The same principle applies when building a website. A website is not only about design, it is about everything that goes with it and SEO is a crucial part of it. If you think about SEO during the website launch you will end up with a website with strong roots.
SEO when planning the website
As an SEO I have come across countless times people telling me they are building a website and that they will consider SEO after it goes live. This strategy couldn’t be more wrong! I then try to explain to them how important it is to think about SEO during the website planning stage.
You should definitely think about SEO at the same time you think about the website structure, design, etc. and always before the website goes live.
SEO should be taken into account before, during and after the website built. There is really no point building a website without SEO and then wondering why you are not appearing in the SERPs even for your brand. At the end of the day you want your potential customers to find you, don’t you?
Because I have had this conversation numerous times, I am going to give you some powerful reasons why you really need to be thinking about SEO at the planing stages of your website and not after.
Wether you are having a site revamp, a website migration, changing domains or building a new website from scratch for your new start up, SEO should be part of the planning strategy. Let me tell you why…
How do search engines see my website?
It is clear that for a website to rank and receive organic traffic, search engines should be able to crawl it and index it. How about if you don’t do any SEO when planning or building the website? Then we might be in for a surprise!
Keep in mind that customers might see a great website but, have you ever wondered how a search engine sees your company’s website?
If your website is visually fantastinc but doesn’t appear in web searches due to fundamental SEO errors that were not taken into account during the website creation, in my opinion, it has been a waste of time and resources. You can definitely it fix afterwards but it can cost you more that if you had built a website with an SEO strategy from the start.
I want to give you an example of what I mean. It is maybe a bit extreme but it really shows how differently users can see a website in comparison to search engines.
To demonstrate this, the website Clouds Over Cuba (http://cloudsovercuba.com/) shows an interactive documentary and it has been built using Flash. Some users will find it interactive and easy to navigate, right?
But how about if we look at how search engines see it? Looking at Google’s cache, this is what you see:
The reality is that it is not that appealing, right? In this case, Google will not index much content. This can also be seen by looking at the indexed pages on Google by using the site command. Google has managed to index 10 pages but you can see that it is having difficulty as many of the URLs are the homepage with parameters.
To put things into perspective, Adobe announced Adobe Flash Player is coming to an end and will no longer be supported at the end of 2020. Therefore Flash will be completely removed from all browsers by 31st December 2020. Also, according to Google, only 17% of users visit a Flash website every day (the figure was 80% just three years ago!). This website and many more like it should really think about changing their websites to another framework.
When should you start SEO on your new website?
Well, as I mentioned it earlier in the post, the answer is very simple, you should start the SEO process on a website at the planning stage. There are many elements in the website build which involves SEO and should really be considered.
As a matter of fact it is never to early to start SEO and you really want to get the basics right in order to build a strong SEO foundation.
Furthermore, it is easier to get an SEO specialist involved as soon as possible and not leaving it until the website is live as it can cost even more to put it right. I am just saying it from experience, believe me!
One thing is clear, web indexing is vital in order to get organic traffic to the website. These are some of the points that an SEO specialist will address during the process of building a new website. These are just an example:
Keyword research: the foundations of the new website
Knowing what keywords to use on your website could be compared to the foundations of a house. You have to start with the foundations (our keywords) and then build the website. What keywords are we going to use? What are my potential customers searching?, etc.
We need to know which keywords are the best for the business and which ones will help you get organic traffic. A keyword research is crucial and should be completed in the early stages of the website’s plan. The keyword research will be used during the website build and help with the following elements:
- help develop the website structure
- find a domain name suitable for the business (if you don’t have one already)
- friendly URLs structure
- define the header tags
- optimise title tags
- meta descriptions
- optimising content
- link anchor texts
- navigation structure
A good website structure: not only for the user
Having a good internal navigation, with a strong internal link structure to different sections of the website, not only makes sense for the user, but also for search engines. For example, a website selling cameras could have a main navigation called “CAMERAS” and then subcategories such as “DIGITAL CAMERAS”, “COMPACT CAMERAS”, etc. instead of having all of the cameras on the same page. It is a very simple example but you get the idea.
The SEO specialist will incorporate keywords within the content of the page in a natural way so that they read well for the end user, but also so that search engines know what the page is about. It is important the website’s content is optimised, but not over-optimised since an over-optimisation of keywords in the copy could potentially be penalised by search engines.
One of the hundreds of ranking factors in Google’s algorithm is having keywords in URLs. Therefore, URLs constructed with parameters or numbers would not be following SEO best practice. For example, the following URL is a bad example of a website that has not taken SEO into account in its creation:
Continuing with the cameras example, a better URL for the Canon cameras on the website would be https://mydomain/compact-cameras/canon-cameras/
There are many more elements that an SEO specialist takes into account when creating a new website. For example, indexing elements (robots.txt, sitemaps, etc.), 301 redirects, making sure there are no 404 errors, image optimisation, etc. I will create an SEO checklist to take into account during a website build but this will be for another post.
SEO after the website is launched? It can cost you dearly!
I hope it is a bit clearer why it is important to incorporate an SEO strategy during the website build and not after it has gone live. If you do that just to save you a bit of money, you will definitely regret it after when you see that your website is not appearing on search engines.
Getting an SEO specialist involved after the site is live can be more expensive as you will need to change things on the website and overall the project can go over budget!
A bit of honest advice, just don’t ignore SEO during your website build. Also, it is important you continue with an SEO strategy after the website is live. SEO is a long term strategy and should be part of your marketing mix. Just think that if you want your website to get organic traffic from search engines you need to have an SEO strategy before, during and after the website build. If you don’t consider it … your competitors will!
Are you in the process of building, revamping or migrating to a new website? Have you thought about SEO in the process? I can help you to make sure the new website has all the right elements before it gets launched. Contact me and let’s talk about your site.
Thank you for sharing! 😊
Hello! I am an international SEO and google analytics consultant with over 15 years experience. I write my SEO and analytics blog at Digital Search Lab. You can also find me on Twitter and LinkedIn.