SEO Perspective: Website Building

So you have a business idea. You have done some research on who will buy your product or service (I hope) and realize you could make some money doing this. You get online and start looking for that ideal url for your website to start selling to the world! If you have ever gone through this process you know there are dozens of options out there. You can register your domain on godaddy.com, then host it on shopify.com and use there website builder to easily create an online store. Or you could opt for wix.com, wordpress or even hire someone on Upwork to develop a custom site for you. There are some crucial things to keep in mind when making these choices and this article will address a few of them from an SEO point of view.

The website must load quickly

By this we are specifically referring to your website’s page load speed. This is a bit more technical and involves things like image compression, render blocking css of js code and other aspects. Luckily, google has provided a tool for you to use in order to create a “punch-list” for your developer or freelancer. Google Pagespeed Insights allows you to plug in your website address and it will rate you on a 100 point scale for speed and give you suggestions on how you improve your websites speed. Anything below an 80 or 85 will result i you being “punished” by google for a slow site and result in lower rankings. This is not to say a slow page alone will result in lower rankings but it is an easy way to take control and make sure all things work in your favor. In addition, google puts a high premium on speed (every search displays how long the search lasted in fractions of a second) and by making sure you are fast, you don’t get left behind.

website speed

Bots must be able to crawl your website

Be aware however, that depending on how you use these web-tools your site may or may not be optimized to be read or “crawled’ by google. This is where a tool like semrush can be helpful. They offer an audit that can determine if the back-end coding of your site is legible to the bots that google uses to read your site and assign it ranks. The audit will provide a list of items to work on to improve your sites SEO from image alt text, meta tags, redirect errors and text to html ratios. This is not fool proof but making sure no “errors” are present can go a long way to helping your SEO. If you find that the web tools you are using do not allow you to change these errors, it may be time to look further afield of invest a little bit more in your website design and development.

Your website must be dynamic

This is perhaps the most time consuming and important item in the long run, the speed and crawling are relatively technical and thus easy to fix if you know what to look for. By “dynamic” we mean you must add, remove and reconfigure content on your website constantly. If you use a website builder platform like those mentioned above (shopify, wix) you will have the tools that they provide in order to add and remove pages, re-arrange your web-store, and change layouts on the fly. While these tools do not offer infinite flexibility, they are a great starting point. If you opted for a custom website from a developer, you must maintain a working relationship with them or another developer in order to consistently update your website. This is where we find the most problems with small or medium businesses. They have a great website developed but then have nobody on staff who can update or maintain the site and it quickly becomes a static advertisement for the company. Your website is crucial to ensuring your company stays relevant and communicates with customers. It is not a one way communication and an effective dynamic site contains forums, comments and other areas for engagement with customers.

Content, Content, Content…all with Backlinks

Google judges your page, in part, on the generation of content over time, consistently adding a page or post each month makes sure that google knows your website is active and increases your website’s likelihood of being crawled. Since we addressed that your site must be dynamic above it seems fair to mention one aspect of that dynamism, content.

Blogs are one of the clearest forms of content, they provide an outlet for you to provide information to customers as well as represent the company in a value add way. These blogs should be targeted at a keyword, but should provide true value to the user. In addition, the blog should be posted on multiple sites, not just your website. This is where backlinks come in.

Backlinks are links from an outside site to your site, they create a “spiderweb” of connections which google uses to extrapolate the importance of your website in the broader context of the internet. By posting as a guest writer on another blog, creating a profile in a forum such as quora, or creating a press release you generate a link back to your website. These links help to improve googles “opinion” of your website and thus increase your ranking.

Beware of toxic links.

Toxic links are links from websites that have no purpose except to link to other sites and create an artificial spiderweb of links. While these are technically links, google has become adept at identifying these and downgrades the links impact on your ranking or even penalizes you if the link is deemed to be from a “link farm.” Many disreputable SEO companies have used this tactic in the past and google created updates to it algorithm that identified these black hat links and punished them. Even if the link is not purely toxic but comes from a less well known and less interconnected or low traffic site it will have a lower impact than a link from a high profile site. The weight for each link is measured using a “trust score” and semrush has a tool to help identify this as well. The higher trust score the more a link will drive you up rankings.

While this post in no way covers all the aspects relevant to SEO and website design and development I hope it gives you some things to think about when building your website. SunCity would be happy to hear from you about other things to think about or questions you have.