When designing your website, there are many factors to consider. Begin with a solid idea of what you want your site to accomplish. Everyone approaches website design differently. Some focus on the design and then add the content while others build the site around the content. However you decide to do it, the important thing is to remember you have two primary audiences: customers and search engines. Build your site with search engine optimization (SEO) in mind but always focus on your customers first.
There are specific measures you can take to SEO your website that quickly increases traffic to your site. These actions should also improve the overall quality of your site so that when your traffic arrives, they stay for awhile. You want to decrease bounce rates (people leaving quickly) and improve conversion rates (people buying). You can incorporate a few or all of these strategies into your website design to improve your site performance.
1. Select Competitive Keywords that Will Work for You
Before you do anything, you need to create your keyword list. You will use keywords in site code as well as content. Develop keywords with your customers in mind but also thinking about SEO. This means you must use keywords naturally in properly constructed sentences that make sense. They must flow with surrounding content. Be sure to include keyword phrases and long-tail keywords on your list and work those into your content. Use a free keyword analyzer tool to help identify the keywords that will be most advantageous for your site. You should keep the keyword density between 3% and 6% on each page. Anything less may prevent search engines from easily identifying your keywords and anything more can appear as keyword stuffing or even spam to search engines.
2. Content, Content, Content – Have We Mentioned Content?
Keywords are only useful to the extent they are embedded in meaningful content. Content is more than a series of words placed together in a sentence. Content is helpful and engaging information that search engine customers want to read. Providing this type of material is how you optimize your content. You can search Google Trends to see what people are looking for and apply those search topics to your own content to make it more relevant. And hire a copywriter if you are not a decent writer as poorly written web pages can result in low search engine rankings.
3. SEO-Ready Domain Name
Your domain name should be your business name or website name. Hopefully one or both of those will include at least one of your keywords so that your domain name has one keyword in it. Think of the best way to use the URL for each of your web pages. A keyword should be included in the name of each page so that it appears in the URL.
4. Vary Anchor Text Links
Understand that the purpose of links is to provide directions to search engine spiders when they visit your site to index it. For this reason, you need to make sure you have a diverse selection of text in those links that clearly describe the purpose of the link. Using the same anchor text over and over can be viewed as duplicate content by search engines.
5. Fewer Words, More Pages
Crowded pages are not appealing. You want plenty of white space on your site so that visitors can easily read your content. You want a clean design that allows you to focus your content and use several keywords throughout your site. This doesn’t mean you should fill in the empty space with photos or videos although you can certainly add them to make your site more engaging. But keep your overall site design simple and easy to use.
6. Join the Social Bandwagon
Social media is a great way to stay in touch with visitors. It is equally important for SEO. Search engines include social media communications in search results now so this is an SEO opportunity that cannot be overlooked. You can easily learn how to use a few social sites to promote your own site. You should also consider social bookmarking sites.
7. Go Behind the Scenes
People often cringe when thinking about website code. Unless you are a programmer, even thinking about code can be a frightening prospect. But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, there are several ways you can optimize your code without worrying about the technical aspects. Of course, for others, you may need to get someone who knows what they are doing to help you out. You want to look at your meta tags and descriptions to verify they are of the proper length, include keywords, and are relevant to page content. Remove anything that appears spammy. And above all, make sure your code can be indexed. If there is anything in your code that interrupts a search engine spider that is crawling your site, it is possible your site will not be indexed at all for search engine results pages (SERPs) which completely defeats your SEO strategy.
8. Build a Good Sitemap
Don’t assume this is automatically done when your site is built. You need to actually include one on your site so that search engine spiders can easily find it and use it to navigate and index your site for search results. It should be logical and simple to use. When a search engines spider can easily read and follow your sitemap, your site can be ranked higher. The search engine interprets that ease as you having a user-friendly site and rewards you for it. If there are any parts of your navigation that does not work properly, you risk not being included on SERPs.
9. Optimize Images
Everything on your site should be optimized for search engines. This includes all images and graphics. In the image’s ALT tag, use appropriate keywords to describe the photo in context of the page content. This goes for any type of content you have that incorporates images, such as web pages, articles, and blogs. If the graphic includes words, it is even more critical you use the ALT tag because search engines spiders cannot read text on images. But they can read tags so put them to work for you.
10. Aim for Speed
Each web page should load fast. Check this in multiple browsers to make sure your site is optimized for as many potential customers as possible. Page speed appears to be a major factor for search engine rankings. Not only that but visitors will stay longer on your site which will reduce your bounce rate and possibly improve your conversion rate. Images, videos, and flash frequently inhibit speed on websites. You can easily reduce the size of images so they load faster. Optimize videos for quicker loads. Many SEO experts still recommend avoiding flash altogether since search engines cannot read flash.
11. Submit Articles and Press Releases to Authority Sites
Writing and submitting articles or press releases to reputable sites, including certain directories, can improve SEO efforts. You are building your own reputation as a high trust domain with those backlinks. If you are not sure if a site is reputable or not, all you need to do is enter the domain name into a search box on any search engine and see where it is ranked on SERPs. Avoid those that are not ranked in the top 20 or so places. Always make sure that all articles and press releases contain original content and do not simply repeat what is on your website. Duplicate content is extremely damaging to SEO.
12. Secure Links to, from, and within Your Site
With internal and external links alike, it is important to regularly check and fix broken links. Links should be relevant to your site for them to be useful to SEO. Having a bunch of links that are meaningless or, worse, connecting your site to sites banned by Google can have a long-term negative effect on your SEO efforts. Google can hit your site with a penalty that is difficult to recover from. The quality of links is more important than the quantity of links. So, you want to avoid link farms and link schemes. Look for links to authority sites or at least other sites that are ranked high on SERPs. If you decide to use reciprocal links, make sure those links are relevant to your content as well as the reciprocal site’s content.
13. Add a Blog – and Use It!
Blogs are multi-purpose tools that all websites should include as long as there is someone who can keep it current. Because search engines seek original content for SERPs, a blog that has only old entries can prevent your SEO strategies from being successful. If you do not have the time to manage your blog yourself, assign it to an employee or consider outsourcing the task to a consultant who can provide high-quality content for you.
Because SEO is an ongoing process, not to mention ever evolving, it is a good idea to keep your finger the SEO pulse, so to speak. Find a forum that you like, preferably one hosted by an expert SEO to get new tips and techniques you can use to SEO your website. It is also a good way to stay abreast of any new changes to search engine algorithms that can impact your current SEO strategy.