Build Your Site With These SEO Optimization Tips
It should be common knowledge that your website is the hub of your digital marketing efforts, and if it’s not, you should probably pay close attention to the following 10 SEO optimization tips I’ve outlined below for you today. For one thing, did you know that SEO is very much dependent on your website design, in more ways than one?
If your site is designed poorly, without simple navigation, and missing clear calls to action, any users who land on your page, from a social referral or a direct link from the search engine results pages (SERPs), will like ‘bounce’ off your site because they can’t easily find the solution to their search query.
This increase in bounce rate could signal to Google that your website doesn’t have enough relevant and useful content to rank high for certain search terms.
You don’t want that to happen do you? Especially not with your main revenue generating keywords.
If your website is easy to navigate, loads quickly on both desktop and mobile, and is full of useful and relevant content, that is well optimized for users and search engines, your website will likely be ranked high, if not at the top of the SERPs, for your targeted search queries.
If your business website ranks high on page one of a Google search to your main targeted keywords, you’re likely to get a lot of web traffic for those search queries.
People will be more likely to click on a higher ranked site, if that link comes with a well optimized meta description and page title.
These users would be more likely to visit the site, view your and interact with your content, possibly share the page, or provide another lucrative website conversion.
That’s exactly what you want!
The more people that click on your link, via social media sites, or organic search results, the more traffic you get, the more SEO juice you accumulate (for targeted keywords), and the more opportunities your business has to make a sale and maximize your ROI on SEO.
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SEO Optimization Techniques For Your New Website
Before we get into the best SEO optimization tactics to use for website design, I’d like to start this section off with a message to all web designers and/or small business owners, that I found referenced in this article from Search Engine Guide:
“the most effective way to achieve high ranking is to build a site from scratch with SEO in mind. This enables the designer to incorporate a variety of techniques that will maximize the site’s impact.”
Just to add to that, always build your new website with a “mobile first” design approach, and obviously with SEO in mind. Use a local SEO strategy if your company is a local business.
So what are some of the best SEO optimization strategies a business can implement in their web design? Read on to find out.
1. Keyword Research
While keywords may not be a major ranking factor anymore, they still are vitally important. After all, users are still using words to search. They’re also using their voice to search and they’re still speaking words.
You need to strategically determine what words and phrases your potential customers are using in relation to your industry and/or niche. The keyword data you research and collect will help you to build your navigation, sitemap, as well as any category pages.
They can also help you with your content marketing or content creation strategy. Many of the long-tail keyword phrases could likely be awesome blog titles or topics. You already know, because of the research, that uses are searching for those particular long-tail phrases.
2. Responsive Design
This should be a given for any web developer. Believe it or not, I have to say that I still know web developers who are currently building their clients websites that are NOT mobile responsive! WTF?
Search Engine Guide says:
“The most SEO-friendly sites are those that incorporate responsive design techniques to make them accessible for users of all types of devices. Building and maintaining separate mobile and desktop sites may present a complication with duplicate content, which e-commerce companies should avoid.”
I couldn’t agree more. Speaking of which, I’m so looking forward to our team building the brand new Nightmares Fear Factory website – set to launch in very early 2015. Why? Well, because when we built the current site, the v4.0 incarnation, we had to build two websites.
A separate mobile site at m.NightmatesFearFactoy.com and a separate desktop site at www.NightmaresFearFactory.com.
This was a great idea in 2011 and Google didn’t mind it at all. They were happy that users had the option to view a unique mobile optimized website, as opposed to trying to pinch and zoom a small screen in order to consume a desktop site on your smartphone circa 2011.
Today, the idea couldn’t be worse for your SEO. You only want one website that is not only responsive but also adaptive to any size screen.
3. Descriptive Navigation
When users land on your webpage, they want an easy ride. You need to make it very simple for users to navigate your site.
Users should easily be able to find the information they searched for.
They needed a solution to a problem, make it easy for them to find it on your website and you will be properly rewarded with better page rank and overall rankings.
Website navigation trends today include text links only. Why? Flyouts and drop down menu bars aren’t the best idea to use in your website’s main navigation bar because humans have trouble navigating them.
Even worse, Google robots also have a difficult time navigating flyout and drop down menus. You want to be make navigating your website easy for users and search engines right?
4. URL Structures
You always want to make sure your page URLs effectively describe the content of the page. You also want to make sure you have your primary keyword in your url, preferably at the start of the URL, not near the end, if possible.
It’s important to note that you should keep your URLs short and use hyphens (“-“) not underscores (“_”), when separating words in the URL.
5. Image Optimization
This is an SEO optimization tactic that so many people miss and I’ll never understand why. All the images on your website MUST be SEO friendly and optimized appropriately. Google can’t “read” or “see” an image – or the text in the image…yet. But they will. Trust me.
Since page load time is a key ranking factor, page load time can be negatively affected when your server has to load larger (file size) images on your website.
Remember that with images, you have 3 separate optimization opportunities.
1. Image size (width x height in pixels)
2. File size (kilobytes)
3. Metadata (alt and title tags).
You must, must, must take advantage of both the alt and title tags and optimize appropriately.
To efficiently optimize your images in terms of image size, make sure you always upload each image file sized to spec. That is, to the exact size (w x h) required for the content area. So if your content area is 600 px wide, and you wanted to upload a full width image, you would size your image to 600px wide and upload that file. Not the original size file (if larger than 600 px).
Never ever upload a large image and let your website’s source code automatically resize the image. Huge SEO no, no. This will have a significant negative impact on your page load time.
As for file size, effective SEO optimization means to create, edit, and/or size your image to be a maximum of 200kb and no more. If you’re able to get an image with high enough quality, at only 75kb – 100kb, use it! No need to get close to 200kb if you don’t have to.
The smaller the image file size, the faster the website pages will load and offer a seamless and smooth user experience. That’s a major SEO win these days – fast page load time.
Metadata should never be overlooked. Often times with images, it is. Images offer up two metadata touch points that provide two separate SEO optimization opportunities. The image ALT and TITLE tags should always be optimized with related keywords – or your secondary keyword.
I rarely use a primary keyword in images, but that also depends. If you want more info on those secrets, please email me, it’s certainly a separate conversation.
Google spiders are able to “read” the image through it’s optimized ALT tag. If you want Google to know what that image is, you need to tell them. Use the ALT tag for this SEO opportunity.
6. Page Load Times
Research shows that Mobile users will wait an average of 5 seconds for your website to load. Desktop users will wait only 3 seconds. To keep pace with busy consumers, websites must load efficiently or risk losing business.
I’m often surprised at how many times I see SEO and website optimization issues related to site maps and poor sitemap management in Google Webmaster Tools.
Any decent webmaster or SEO, worth his or her hourly consulting rate, should be using GWT a few times a week if not every day when monitoring a client’s optimization issues.
Remember that there are actually two types of site maps your website needs.
The first one is an absolute for sure requirement. An XML sitemap for all search engines, not just for Google. This will ensure Google’s spiders are able to find and index your website’s pages.
As you know, 2015 is not going to be about just search engines. Just like 2012, 2013, and 2014, SEO is as equally important from a user perspective. In this case, your business and e-commerce website could benefit from having an HTML site map for users.
This would help users easily find exactly what they came to your website looking for.
8. Page Title Optimization
Your <title> tag is probably one of the most relevant and important on page SEO ranking factors of your website. You need to make sure your primary keyword or phrase is not only in your title tag, but at the beginning of the title – not the end.
Keeping your page titles to 55-60 characters max is a great rule of thumb. Page titles containing your primary keyword will help your web page rank higher in the SERPs for that keyword, and other related keywords and phrases.
Best practices include making your page title tag very relevant to the content of that page because it’s your page title tag that will end up being the link and the title of the search result.
9. Sub Headings Optimization
Subheadings are an excellent on page SEO opportunity that can seriously affect your page rankings. Subheadings are used to organize your copy so it’s easy to consume, easy to read, and easy to skim. People do all three on webpages.
The subheadings also help Google spiders understand what’s on your page, and how relevant the content is to a users search query. As long as the headings are wrapped in the appropriate meta tag for headings – <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, <h4>, <h5>, etc.
The most important heading is your <h1> and is usually your page title tag (see point 8 above). Every page must have an <h1> tag – and it should contain your primary keyword. The “least important” header tag is your <h6>.
For maximum effectiveness, your webpage is introduced with an <h1> tag and should be followed with content under subheadings in numerical order. For example:
<h1>Main Heading (includes primary keyword)</h1>
<h2>Secondary Heading 1 (includes primary or secondary keyword)</h2>
<h3>Sub-section of the secondary heading 1 (includes secondary or related keyword)</h3>
<h2>Secondary Heading 2 (includes secondary or related keyword)</h2>
<h3>Sub-section of the secondary heading 2 (includes secondary or related keyword)</h3>
10. Link Optimization
An often forgotten SEO optimization tactic by some webmasters, and a few short sighted SEO “experts”, is the optimization of your webpages internal and external links.
Just as images come with alt and title tags that are ready for SEO optimization, your internal and external links come with one SEO opportunity in the metadata.
Links come with a title tag. That title tag can be relevant and descriptive text, telling the user and search engine what the link is and/or what website it’s taking the user to. You have an opportunity to add a primary, secondary, or related keyword to this tag. Use it!
SEO is a tricky and ever evolving beast. Not only is it vital to stay on top of all the changes in search algorithms and ranking factors, a good SEO strategy needs the fundamental basics of SEO as a foundation for the website’s design.
It’s absolutely necessary to build your website, content strategy, and social media marketing strategy from an SEO optimization perspective. Building a site without the fundamental basics of search engine optimization, baked in from the start, is a huge and costly mistake that could break your business.
By following the 10 SEO web design methods listed above, or by hiring a professional, experienced, and mildly OCD SEO Consultant, you can set up the future of your website, and by default, the future of your business, for nothing but success.
If you’d like some help getting started with a new SEO strategy or if your website is in need of an SEO refresh, reach out to me today, I can help!
I’d be happy to take a look at your website marketing and provide an SEO audit at no charge, in order to help you diagnose any website optimization and SEO issues your site may have. I’ll also include an action plan to solve any issues we find.
What are some of the SEO optimization tactics you use in your web design and development?
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