I have talked before about how web design and SEO should be considered together before you launch your website. Optimizing pages after they have been published is difficult, yet many websmasters still fail to apply any form of SEO until weeks or even years after a site has been running.
Your SEO efforts are what will define the success of your online business, so applying your optimization after a site has been launched could be like opening a watersports store in the middle of the desert! It makes no sense at all.
So why is it important to apply your SEO at the design stage and not later on?
Remember that search engine optimization is the process of making a website appealing to search engines and users alike. Elements like your site structure, navigation and content type have to be considered in both the design phase and in terms of SEO. In that respect you can see that web design and SEO go hand in hand and as such have to be considered together. Not considering your SEO or getting it wrong could lead to an expensive re-design and delays in getting your website up and running.
I can appreciate that as a small business owner, investing in the long term commitment of hiring in SEO services is perhaps something you would want to do at a later date, once your website is launched and fully developed. However, this approach could see you having to invest yet more time and money correcting the site development for the purposes of search engine optimization. And having to spend more money re-developing a site once your SEO becomes involved does not make good financial sense.
The success of your website begins with its foundations and developing a website that is both search engine friendly and ready to be optimized from the word go. This not only makes sense financially, but it will give you a big advantage when you do finally launch.
So what areas do you need to consider when looking at your web design and SEO together?
- Content Management System: there are a number of different CMS available and while some are more SEO friendly, others are easier to adapt to your specific needs. What you need from your CMS from an SEO point of view is a system which allows you control and customize the site and on a page by page basis as required.
- Clean Code: the way in which your site is coded will have an impact on how efficiently a search engine can crawl your site, as well as impact on the way it perfoms. Unnecessary code can cause pages to download slowly, as well as slow down spidering of your website. Both of these issues will affect your search engine rankings and poor coding practices will also impact on your users experience.
- Content: I have said before that in SEO terms ‘content is king’ yet many websites are not developed with content in mind. This leaves little opportunity to add optimized content later on and what can be added often appears dis-engaged from the site’s design. Business owners who are developing ecommerce sites often say that too much content will distract from the products they are trying to sell, and although this is a valid point, content forms an integral part of the decision making process and is key to presuading customers to make a purchase.
These examples show how planning your SEO along with your website design or even before, is integral to the success of your business. It can also be helpful to consider your website development in terms of online marketing rather than as a design and development element of your business plan.
What is essential to remember is that your marketing is primary to everything else. If you do not promote your business effectively from the start you will always be on the back foot. While graphics, colors and fonts are easily changed, effective optmization isn’t and your SEO strategy needs to be placed at the forefront of your online efforts.