Websites are often built without Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in mind. While this may be fine for a personal site or blog, it can be devastating to a commercial website whose main purpose is to attract traffic and make money. A lack of SEO generally leads to a lack of web traffic.
When it comes time to address this issue, the solutions can often be both complex and expensive. Many out-of-the-box template based websites are completely riddled with code errors and dead links from the get-go. More often than not clients opt to start from scratch rather than tangle through the rat’s nest of shoddy code that is their website.
This SEO check list will start a website off on the right foot and ideally save time and unnecessary expenses. (SEO) SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION 101.
Here is a list of things to consider before building a website:
1- Domain Name- When potential clients are looking for your services on the web they will not type in the name of your business…instead they may type “mls nc listings wilmington” or “wilmington homes for sale in nc”. The best choice for a domain name will have very high search volume (a lot of people type it in the search bar) and very little competition (your competitors are not already capitalizing on the terms.) This is a delicate balance that will be further addressed in bullet 3 (keyword research).
As mentioned, you will still try to get a domain name that represents your company like “BESTDARNREALTOR.com”This name will not be attached to a web page but rather set up as a 411 redirect (just like call forwarding for websites).
2- Architecture- All sites start with a home page and a number of sub-pages. There should be a specific page for each of your services which will relate to your best keyword phrases (see bullet 3). It is also important to keep each page no more than one click away from any other page (the Google bot’s algorithm loves this). This can be achieved by making a link available to every page on the site in the bottom margin of each page. The entire site should also be indexed with a.xml sitemap (some SEOs argue against this point). The fact is, the easier it is for Google to read and navigate your site the better your chances of an awesome ranking. And forcing your clients to click around your site to find what they need results in “stickyness” a term used to describe the amount of time a client spends on your site. Google tracks this and sites with more stickyness
3- Keywords- Keyword research is the single most important component of an effective internet marketing campaign (even more SEOs will argue against this point). You must find relevant phrases that people actually type into the search engine. These phrases are often obscure and rarely intuitive. What you or I may type in while looking for a specific service may be very different from what your potential clients actually type in. You must use a mixture of intuition and statistics to find effective relevant keywords. This describes the “Search Volume” component of the equation. You must capitalize on phrased that are typed into the search bar the most. These are terms with “HIGH VOLUME”
We must also consider advertiser “COMPETITION”. It is safe to assume that your competition may be engaging in similar marketing practices. It is equally safe to assume that some of them are already capitalizing on some of the most searched terms. These terms are considered “HIGH VOLUME HIGH COMPETITION” While these terms should not be ignored it is not efficient or effective to harp on them
The crème de la crème of keyword phrases fall into the “HIGH VOLUME LOW COMPETITION” category…People are typing them in Google but none of your competitors are using them on their sites. This gives you high ranking with a quickness and can bolster the effectiveness of the previously ignored “HIGH VOL HIGH COMP” terms. 4- Content- The main purpose of your site is to bring in potential clients. But once they are “through the door” the site must also provide them with information and maybe a sales pitch or two. Content also gives us a great opportunity to insert relevant keywords. Each page will have its own list of keywords that relate specifically to that page. These words should make up a certain percentage of the total the content. This is a concept referred to as “DENSITY” (Google likes phrases with around 5% density). The trick is to write content that reads well to clients and Google simultaneously. It is always best to sacrifice density for clarity…Your clients are always more important than Google. While Google has plenty of cash they are not likely to buy anything from you (now we have almost all of the SEOs stirred up). For the purposes of this article we will leave that point rest, but it is worth noting that Ad Sense is a program where bye Google pays you for advertising space.
5- Meta Content- This refers to all the stuff in a website that you don’t see. You can see it by right clicking on a web page and selecting “View Source” it looks like a mess but it controls all sorts of important functions. It gives Google a description of your site to post, allows text to pop-up when you put your cursor over a picture on a website, page titles, and a number of other things. All of these areas can be filled with your keywords and phrases.
I will be the first to admit that this checklist is basic and has omitted some variables, but it is a great framework to use before and during the development of your site. Please realize that nothing in SEO is set in stone, in fact your techniques must be as dynamic as the web.