Why build a website? The most obvious reason is to provide a place where clients can find out more information about your business: what you do, what you cost, how to get in touch with you, your past projects, etc. But say a would-be client doesn’t know you exist—can they find your website via Google? If you’ve built your site with Search Engine Optimization (that is, SEO) in mind, the answer should be, yes!
What Is Search Engine Optimization?
Simply put, SEO is a process of increasing traffic to your website through organic search engine results. In other words, good SEO enables your site to be found by users searching generic keywords on Google or a similar search engine. The idea here is to bring quality leads to your site by outranking (i.e., appearing higher on Google’s results page) than other similar sites.
So… how exactly does one build a website with search engine optimization in mind?
Understand How SEO Works… And Optimize
First things first. You can’t build a site with good SEO if you don’t know how it works! So let’s talk about how Google comes up with that list of sites after you search something. When you type in your search terms, say “builders in Raleigh”, Google analyzes (“crawls”) millions of sites worldwide, then ranks them based on a number of relevancy factors.
Some of the top things search engines consider include: keywords, number and relevance of links, content length and uniqueness, user traffic, user time on page, bounce rates, and more. So how do you get your site to rank well in all these metrics? You optimize!
Do some keyword research
First and foremost, think about your keywords—that is, what your ideal user is most likely to type into a Google search to find your business. Keywords are the #1 most important factor in ranking a site for SEO, so it pays to spend a little time doing some research.
Keywords help a search engine determine a site’s main message. If you’re a builder in Raleigh, you want Google to know that’s your site’s focus. To do this, you should place your keywords into headlines and main content—without overusing (sometimes called “keyword stuffing”). Typically, you want to see about one keyword phrase every 100 words, and it’s okay to rephrase or use synonyms (i.e., “Raleigh builder” and “builder in Raleigh”) to avoid repetition.
Plan your site’s structure
Before you start creating pages, think about what you want to include and where you want to include it. A well-organized site will show users the content they want, then clearly and logically direct them to places they can find more information. Sites that are convoluted or have illogical links may confuse the user and cause them to leave the page or “bounce”, which can negatively affect your SEO.
In general, your home page should be a “landing page”, a spot where your user can get a brief overview of your business and services. From there, they can select their specific area of interest and click a link that will then take them to a separate page on your site to get more information.
Keep to one topic per page
Breaking out content into individual pages with one topic per page comes with a couple of benefits. From a user point of view, it keeps any one page from being too wordy by ensuring there’s only one main idea on each page. From an SEO perspective, it allows you to utilize title tags and meta descriptions on a variety of pages to designate and build out your keywords.
Title tags are the headings for each page and are typically displayed on the search results page. A title tag is essentially the very first thing a user sees about a page—so it had better be good! Meta descriptions are the little blurb beneath the title that gives the user a one-sentence overview of what the page will contain.
Create relevant content
Once you start building out your site, it’s very important to ensure that you’re creating valuable content. Creating unique and relevant copy is a critical aspect to building your SEO. Not only does relevant content contain keywords (which, remember, bolster your SEO), it also keeps users on your site because you’re giving them the information they came for! Increasing user time on page improves your SEO, too.
As you’re creating new content, remember to never completely remove old content. You can move it around, but if you remove it completely, search engines will have to re-crawl your site to learn what it’s about. So keep your content—just make sure you keep it up to date and relevant!
Consider your formatting
Whether you’re formatting your main home page or simply an interior page on your site, you want to be sure it’s laid out in a way that’s readable, usable, and easy to digest. In other words, you don’t want to overwhelm the user with anything—images, animations, or words.
Overall, you want your content to be aesthetically pleasing, logically navigable, and broken into small, easily readable parts. Put the most important content at the very top (above the fold). Use headlines to allow your readers to “skim” the page to find the information that’s most relevant to them. Break up chunks of text with headlines, new sections, or images (and remember to always add alt tags to images!). And ensure your fonts are sized appropriately (not too big or small) with enough contrast against the background to be easily readable.
Provide a call to action
Getting a potential client to your site is only half the battle! You just gave them all this great information; now convert them from visitor to client. Add a call to action at the bottom of your page to direct your visitor to contact you, visit you on social media, subscribe… whatever you want them to do. Be direct, spell it out, and give them a way to do it easily.
Remember: SEO Is a Long-Term Strategy
Lastly, remember that SEO takes time. The longer your site has been around, the more good content it has, the more users it draws, the better its SEO will be. But that doesn’t mean that you can “optimize” and then sit back and relax; good SEO requires constant upkeep—adding new content, updating old content, and ensuring your site stays on top of the latest design trends and accessibility standards.
Need a hand with your site’s SEO?
If you’re feeling a little lost on all this SEO stuff (we know… this was a long post), then we’re here for you! SEO is a big part of what we do at Corridor Consulting, so we know a thing or two about optimizing, organizing, and crafting relevant content. If you need a hand, give us a call and let’s talk about your business goals.