By Scott Beckman
While much of SEO (search engine optimization) takes place after a website has launched and has to do with driving traffic to that site, there are a few key aspects of SEO that are more difficult to change after a website is live. If you’re planning on building an entirely new site or remodeling an existing one, you have an opportunity to set yourself up for SEO success right from the beginning.
Though these tactics are not always critical because the search engines rank webpages using hundreds of factors, the more your site is optimized, the better chance you have of ranking well.
1. Use Keywords in URLs
Understandably, search engines take a look at a webpage’s URL as an indicator of what that page is about. The URL www.delishgranola.com/flavors/blueberry is far more helpful than www.delishgranola.com/page_id=2/product_id=1108810. Though it is possible to use 301 redirects to tell the search engines that a page has moved to a different URL and thus optimize your URLs after a site has launched, the search engines do not necessarily always pass on the old URL’s rank to the new one. It’s best to implement this best practice before launch.
2. Simple Site Navigation
Search engines tend to like websites with easy navigation and a clear hierarchy of pages. Remember that the search engines are getting increasingly better at ranking user-friendly sites higher than those that don’t provide a positive user experience. This is why many websites use a silo structure, because it appeases search engine spiders and users alike.
For many simple sites, a good rule of thumb is to ensure that every page you want to rank for can be accessed via a simple text link from the homepage, whether in the main navigation menu or in the footer. For large or complex sites, this may not be feasible, but it can still guide how you think about your overall site navigation.
3. Create Targeted Pages
Imagine you’re building a dentist website. You want to talk about all the services you offer, so you can either create a page called “Dentistry Services” that lists everything you do with a brief description or you can create a page for each individual service like teeth whitening, dental implants, crowns, etc. For SEO, the latter choice is better because a page with copy that is specific to one topic is both more likely to rank and to bring in higher quality traffic that is more likely to convert to a lead or customer.
That being said, remember that a page should have at least 300 words and pages with over 1000 words tend to rank better. If you find that you can’t come up with enough copy to fill a page, you may be getting too targeted.
These strategies can have a powerful impact on your SEO and your chances of receiving organic search traffic. Start your website off on the right foot and you’ll truly be setting yourself up for success.
Scott Beckman is the Digital Marketing Director for Devetry, a custom software development company in Denver, CO. He holds a Master’s degree in Marketing from the University of Colorado at Denver and, as an avid growth hacker and lead generation specialist, he has experience with SEO, web design, email, social, digital advertising, and marketing automation.