Occasionally you come across a site that quite simply needs to be demolished before even thinking about the SEO. The likelihood of them getting anywhere within the search engines is next to nil. These types of sites need building with SEO in mind from the ground up and can be an expensive and time consuming process that delays the actual SEO.
Luckily, such sites are few and far between. So, to help with building better websites that are much more search engine friendly (whether you use an SEO or not) we’ve devised a quick list of some points you should bear in mind when designing and developing your site:
- Make sure navigation doesn’t lose the visitor or search engine.
- Give the website an easy to understand hierarchy. Categories and sub-categories are a good idea, starting generic and getting more specific the deeper the level. This will require some planning.
- Ensure all pages are reachable within a few clicks. Adding links to the content is a good way of doing this.
- Think about using a breadcrumb navigation if your site goes more than a few levels deep so the user can easily find their way back to the next level up or the home page
- Keep it simple.
- Keep the coding clean. Unformatted code with masses of inline CSS can be confusing for anyone to edit the page.
- Longer pages take longer to load so keep the coding as streamlined as possible and aim for better performance.
- Ensure all styles are in an external styleheet file, making the page file much smaller in size. Also ensure that any unused styles are removed, as well as unnecessary comments.
- Don’t use images for headings unnecessarily. If you must use a particular non-web-friendly font use image replacement so the text is still spiderable and the heading is still readable once the stylesheet is removed, say, for some mobile browsers.
- Make use of the hierarchical headings such as H1, H2, H3… for tiered page headings and keep things consistent.
Only when the above has been completed to an acceptable standard can you really start looking at SEO in detail. Following the above guidelines will help you create a well-structured and crawlable site that has the potential to succeed within the search engines and can be easily optimised for further success.
With the right foundations in place SEO has the power to be a fantastic marketing tool but you need a solid underlying structure.
Is there anything I may have missed? Please add your thoughts below.