Web page design isn’t rocket science. There are numerous tools available to help you build and manage a website, so it’s not unheard of to consider doing this yourself. The first step is to determine how your site will look visually and invest the time to adapt your design to a template that you can manage for the long-term. This is critical because even the most visually appealing designs can go astray over time and begin to look more like the inside of a high school locker.
Once you have your design, the next step is to get it noticed and that’s when understanding the basics of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is important. Below are the four essential elements of your website design as related to SEO. Please note, that we’ve intentionally left off the most important SEO factor “link building” as this is an activity outside the visual design of your website.
- Write valuable content
Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard that Google changes their search algorithm to optimize the users search to show the most relevant content. Their direction to website developers has always been “build content people want and your search rankings will improve.” This means that unless you are willing to invest in meaningful, topic rich content that people want, you’re SEO rankings will never be high. This means writing content that engages visitors and encourages them to stay on your site for more than a cursory glance. It includes rich media as well such as blogs, podcasts and other multimedia.
- Incorporate Keywords into your site
Keywords are essential. You should define what keywords you want to target even before you build your site then shape your content around this. What’s important to remember is that keywords are not just located in the text of your site. They are also associated with pictures, links, downloads and every other element of your site. Be careful how you use them though. Don’t try to trick the system by loading pages full of a single keyword. Google and the other search engines have spent millions to identify these tactics and will rank your page accordingly, i.e. lower.
- Make your page titles meaningful
Look at the top of this page and read the title in your browser tabs. This is the page title specific to this page and its critical to telling search engines what this page is about. Certainly it is only one element of SEO, but it’s also one that will show up in search engines as the link to your page when someone does a search. Be descriptive with this title and help identify what users will find on this page and it will go a long way to improving your SEO rankings.
- Use text based links
When you pick a content management system and design a site map, spend time understanding the many different options you have for storing your pages. WordPress, for example, gives you several options for managing links such as date, number or topic. Choose to use topic, because this is not only meaningful to your reader, but it will also add additional keywords to your SEO ranking. Similar to page titles, these links will show up within your Google searches and will give that much more visibility to the reader on why they should choose to view your page, and not the next one on the list.Once again, managing your SEO program isn’t difficult, but it does take time, understanding and a commitment to doing it the right way. There are no tricks or shortcuts. Your goal needs to be to create a program that works for you and your target audience. When you’ve combined these two elements together, you can then focus on creating inbound links to further optimize your SEO ranking.