What should come first: SEO or website development?

When it comes to your website, SEO should never be an afterthought. SEO is important to any business that operates online as it’s your site’s largest source of traffic, but what many don’t realise is that it needs to be built into the website development process, not added in later once the site is complete.

Carefully considering SEO before the site is built will make a huge difference to any business’s ROI and lay the foundation for future success. Ultimately, your website is a marketing tool used to drive business. So a website with strong SEO will prove the most successful marketing tool. Here’s what you need to know to have a site that’s built for search marketing and lead generation.

Keyword research

SEO starts with keywords. Therefore, keyword research should be the starting point of any good website build. You should know what keywords you want to rank for before you even start building the site. Afterall, if you don’t know what your prospective customers are looking for, how do you know what words the site should be optimised for?

Developing an SEO friendly site

When designing or redesigning your new website, attractiveness, professionalism and usability are most likely your top 3 concerns. You want your website to look great and your visitors to have easy access to the information they’re seeking at the same time. But all that hard work is wasted if the customer never sees your website in the first place. So while your brand should have a visually appealing website, don’t forget to make the search engines happy.

Given that 80% of website traffic comes from search engines, if you create a site with no regard for SEO, it won’t rank and there won’t be any leads. An SEO friendly site is one that allows a search engine such as Google to explore and read pages across the site. Ensuring a search engine can easily crawl and understand your content is the first step to ensuring your visibility in the search engine result pages.

A well optimised website development process should start with:

  • Domains – Ensure your domain makes sense and relates to what you do. All variations and subdomains should correctly point at the main site and redirect to a single canonical version of the site.
  • Hosting – A slow site makes for unhappy users. Your hosting should follow a few common sense rules: be situated where your audience is situated, be fast and be platform-specific.
  • CMS – The platform you choose can hugely influence how successful you are. WordPress is a great option in many situations.
  • Indexation – To understand your site, your user has to be able to read the content on the page. This means that the main content of your site should be text-based behind the scenes.
  • Link structure – To index your content beyond the homepage, you need internal links that the search engine can crawl. Your primary navigation, search engine directives and tools like XML sitemaps all help the search engine crawl your site and discover new pages.
  • URLs – A sensible naming convention helps provide yet more context for humans and search engines.

Structuring your site for success

When it comes to your website, SEO can be classed under 2 main headings:

  1. Onpage SEO (30%) – i.e. web architecture, semantics, content and the way the site is coded
  2. Offpage SEO (70%) – i.e. link building and content marketing

During the website development process, onpage SEO should be the focus. Good site architecture should improve how users and search engines find their way to your site. The goal is getting the best, most relevant content in front of the users and reducing the number of times they have to click to find it.

By flattening your site architecture, you can make potential gains in indexation metrics such as the number of pages generating search engine traffic and the number of pages in a search engine index. By promoting content “up” the architecture, or “flattening”, you can also improve its overall rank.

By increasing the number of links on each page and reducing the number of clicks to the very deepest level of content, you’ll effectively flatten the site architecture. Your typical SEO then just builds on this solid information that’s laid out by your site architecture.

Good SEO starts in the website development process then grows. Ensure your site is search ready from the beginning by having a chat to Bang Digital today. We have a team of seasoned digital marketing professionals who can help your website work with the search engines.