The way you design your website is important to your overall success. But more than that, your success relies on how well your website ranks in search results. After all, if people can’t find your website when they run a Google search, they’ll never know you exist and your traffic numbers will suffer.
Using the right SEO tactics while you design your website is the key to increased visibility, higher conversions, and even more sales. But implementing SEO into your website after you’ve designed it is not the best way to go about it.
That’s why we’re going to share with you the best way to approach SEO friendly website development.
1. Create an SEO-Friendly Site URL
Your site’s domain name, or URL, is not just a neat way to increase brand recognition and give site visitors an easy way to learn what your website is all about.
Crawlers search all parts of a website, including the site’s URL, for search ranking purposes. That’s why it’s important you choose a URL that has keywords related to your website and is simple to understand.
2. Avoid Using Flash in Navigation
Despite the fact that many websites are phasing out their use of Flash, it hasn’t completely disappeared, especially when it comes to navigation menus. Unfortunately, search engines have a hard time crawling websites that use Flash, if even just in their navigation menus.
3. Don’t Forget Alt Attributes
Make sure every single image you add to your website has a descriptive alt attribute. Not only is this needed so you can be 100% W3C-compliant, it helps search engines crawl your images and rank them in relevant search results for site visitors to click.
Search engine crawlers will also take into consideration alt attributes when ranking written content too. This means both images and site content will rank in the right search results, every single time, but only if they have descriptive alt tags.
4. Structure Headings Properly
Search engines are on the lookout for site content that’s easy to read. And people are looking for site content that’s easy to skim. Because of this, you should always use proper headings in your content.
Headings give crawlers information about the structure of your HTML document. Plus, crawlers tend to give priority to heading tags relative to other content on the page. The only exception here may be hyperlinks, which are yet another way to design the content of your website in an SEO-friendly way.
- When it comes to internal linking, try using regular anchor tags within the HTML
6. Create an XML Sitemap
Speaking of XML sitemaps, you should create one for your website from the start.
Sitemaps have been part of web design best practices for a long time. But since search engines started using sitemaps to better crawl and index websites, they have become even more crucial to search rankings.
One of the easiest ways to ensure your website has an XML sitemap that is always updated whenever you make changes on your site is to use the free Yoast SEO plugin. Of course, this only works if you’re using the WordPress CMS.
All you have to do is enable XML sitemap creation and it’s done.
To see your site’s sitemap, click the question mark icon and check out your sitemap.
If you’re using Yoast SEO, it’s also important you configure the following settings:
- Enable posts and pages to appear in search results
- Enable/disable snippet preview date
- Show the Yoast Meta Box in search results
- Include images and other media in search results
- Enable breadcrumbs for easier site navigation (and search engine crawling)
The design of your website, paired with your SEO plugin’s settings, can make or break your visibility in search results, the amount of traffic that comes to your site, and the overall conversion rate (whether that be subscribers or customers).
7. Use Unique Meta Data
A common mistake web designers make is using website templates with placeholder meta data (page titles, descriptions, and keywords), and forgetting to change it out when the site goes live.
If this happens, the website and all of its pages might have the same meta data, making it very difficult for crawlers to read, prioritize, and index the content in search results. This has the potential to be very damaging to your search rankings.
And the worst part is, you may not even know it’s happening.
If you’re in the habit of using templates to create your website, always switch out the placeholder meta data to ensure every webpage on your site is individually crawled and indexed the way it should be.
8. Monitor Broken Links
Internal linking throughout your website is a great way to boost site engagement, encourage conversions, and help improve search rankings.
But what happens when someone clicks on an internal link and they are met with a 404 error?
As you can imagine, this might frustrate site visitors and cause them to abandon your website – never to return. Of course, when designing a website, the best thing to do is always make sure to use working links. But sometimes a link is working today, and not tomorrow.
That’s why monitoring your broken links is the key to keeping people engaged with your site’s content.
Don’t use WordPress? That’s okay! You can also use the free online tool, Online Broken Link Checker, to find broken links on your site.
And there you have it! The best way to approach SEO friendly website development so your website ranks well in search results.
We can design an SEO friendly website for you from the ground up, so you don’t have to. Plus, we can help you with things like content creation, WordPress development, marketing, and building a social media presence so you can scale your website and become more successful than you ever thought possible.