For many marketers, SEO is still an afterthought. Something you can simply add on once a site is designed and built. While the digital marketing adage “content is king” still holds true, the key for an effective website today is to let SEO considerations take the initial lead — then empower them to serve as a functional foundation and content infrastructure that drives engagement and conversions.
With this in mind, here are some of the strategic and technical issues you’ll want to examine and address in the earliest stages of site planning and development:
Put your value proposition in SEO-friendly terms.
Many marketers tend to talk about products/services from an inward point of view, by leading off with what a product/service does instead of with the customer problem it solves. The idea is to research what your target audience is searching for online, in order to voice your value proposition in a way that directly answers their needs.
Keep your architecture simple and intuitive. Live users and search engines have a major preference in common: the desire to quickly find what they’re looking in an intuitive way. The rule of thumb is, whenever possible, keep your navigation menus from going more than 4 pages deep. This relatively flat site structure enables web crawlers to rank and categorize content more easily. It also helps visitors to find what they need with a minimum of clicks.
Map crucial keywords to key content pages.
A capable SEO partner will help you look at a number of important factors for individual pages including search volume, how H1 tags are ranking, load speed, link building and engagement levels. The process of mapping keywords adds the ability to build content that is more closely aligned with the intention of visitors for specific pages. This deeper-level approach to optimization can greatly increase browse rates, the time a visitor spends on your site, and the number of pages consumed per visit.
Look for ways to improve on-page SEO.
Title (H1 tag) and content grades are becoming more and more important for search engine rankings for a particular page. If the grade for the title or the content is suffering in comparison to the other, a little time spent optimizing that page can be well worth the investment. Be on the lookout also for other factors that impair ranking and/or engagement for a particular page, such as slow page load speed and lack of mobile-friendliness.
Choose a flexible, future-proof platform.
Search engines, particularly Google, are known for their continual efforts to update ranking algorithms and requirements. In addition to choosing a platform that gives authors/editors the ability to easily create content, you’ll want to ensure your site has the flexibility to be updated quickly across the board to keep up with the realities of today’s ever-evolving SEO environment.