One of the biggest challenges that online businesses face today is maintaining relevance in the eyes of the search engines, especially Google. With Google controlling more than 90% of the search traffic in the US alone, it’s not surprising that the most important goal of any web-based marketing strategy is to be number one in Google.
It’s a well-established principle that on-site SEO is one of the most basic building blocks every business needs to have as they start on the road to search engine domination. So it makes sense to add another string to your own marketing bow as a web designer and incorporate some simple SEO strategies into every web design you deliver.
Here are nine ways to improve the SEO strength of every website you design.
1. Add a blog
Adding a blog to any site gives your clients the opportunity to add fresh content easily and regularly. Search engines love fresh content and if you encourage your client to update the blog on at least a weekly basis, or hopefully even more regularly, you will be giving them a distinct SEO advantage. You can explain to your client that blogs naturally attract search engine traffic and they can take advantage of this by not only adding content as often as possible, but to allow visitors to ask questions or leave comments.
The interactivity of the blog also adds value to the site and can also increase the likelihood of potential customers social bookmarking it and sharing it their social networks, but remember to look out for spam comments and to remove anything that looks like duplicate content.
Blogs also increase the size of the website over time and this can provide a major SEO benefit in the form of an increase in website authority and a higher number of pages to leverage with internal links.
2. Add Google Analytics to each page
As you are no doubt aware, Google Analytics is a free analytics software package that can provide your client with a range of critical data about their site and how it is performing in the search engines.
By using such features as Goal Tracking, Event Tracking, bounce rates and Intelligence you can show your client which keywords, search engines and traffic sources are producing sales or leads for their business. You can also use this data as a way of showing them how they can improve their site over time (with your help) through ongoing split testing.
Bonus tip: Sign up for Google Webmaster Tools, which also have a ton of information that you can use to learn more about your keywords and web pages.
3. Reduce code bloat
Remember that excessive code not only slows the page’s loading time, but it also increases the possibility of coding errors that, whilst they may have no direct impact on the site’s SEO, may still cause difficulty for the search engine spiders.
4. Make each page unique
Google ranks the relevance of each website according to the content it contains, and is always seeking relevant content not contained anywhere else on the Internet. This means that the content of every page needs to be completely different not just from any other site on the Web, but also any other page on the same site. This raises the issue of duplicate content, the dread of all site owners.
Put simply, if you publish any content that appears somewhere else on the Internet, you run the risk of being ignored by search engines because the algorithm will be looking for content that sets your site apart.
Unique content removes any such impediments from your site and your design standards will support your clients’ SEO. It is also worthwhile pointing out that wherever you include snippets of information contained on other pages within the site to tempt the visitor to follow the link, you run the risk of being penalized for duplicate content. So be careful of the wording used in the snippets so that it provides a summary without repeating any of the words actually used.
5. Use Meta description tags
<meta> description tags are what appear in the search engine results pages – they give the web surfer an overview of what the site is about. Put your marketer’s hat on and write a description that convinces visitors to click on the result. This is your site’s first opportunity to attract visitors, so it’s vital that you give your client the best chance of standing out from the other results.
Remember, Google also uses meta description tags to differentiate web pages (although not as much as title tags) so you also need to be careful to describe each page differently to avoid any duplicate content issues. Including free offers, guarantees and a phone number can improve the click through rate on your clients’ SEO ranking.
Make sure to limit the <meta> description tags to 160 characters in length, including spaces.
6. Remove repetitive wording from the website layout
It’s worth repeating again that unique content is vital to the success of any site’s SEO. When designing a website layout for a client it is tempting to include information such as copyright text, contact details and maybe even company mottos on every page of the site. If there is not enough unique content on every page then you run the risk of your client’s site being penalized for duplicate content. That’s why it’s important to remove such repetitive wording from the website layout so that the true informational content of the site is not diluted in any way.
7. Add footer links to every page
8. Create a separate web page for each keyword or keyword phrase
The best way for a website to rank for a particular keyword phrase is to create a web page targeted to that phrase with the keywords in the <title> tag, <meta> description tags, <h1>, body copy and URL. This means that it is critically important to create a separate web page for each product or service that the client sells, as well as category pages if they are needed. A dedicated page for each product or service will also ensure a good user experience as they will land directly on this page from the search engine results, making it much easier for them to buy online or submit a form for more information.
9. Use keyword rich title tags on each page
<title> tags appear in the title bar of the browser and are one of the factors used by search engines to determine the content of your page. Rather than including the company name in the <title>tag, use the keywords that your client wants to rank for. This will give your client a solid advantage for ranking in the search engines. Make sure to limit the <title> tags to 60 characters in length, including spaces, so that the full text of the title tags appears in the search engine rankings and doesn’t get cut-off by Google.
By integrating all of the above suggestions into each of your website design projects, you will give your clients the best possible chance of generating sales and profits from search engine rankings.