SEO-optimization at the website development stage
Most sites are made according to the customer’s vision, while the SEO specialists are involved at the “finished product” stage, where the product is to be corrected and spent time on it. Most importantly, this kills the potential of early website promotion in search engines. So, how to avoid SEO mistakes during the website development phase?
When developing a website, the business owner involves many specialists: designers, developers, testers, managers, but they often forget about the SEO specialist. And it is unfortunate because SEO-guidelines implementation on the finished product is much more expensive and time-consuming, takes precious time and the opportunity to achieve the results faster. So, when all works are done, we get a convenient and solid, in the business owner’s opinion, website. However, for search engines, it may not be good enough to take high positions.
! SEO at the website development stage is an important strategic step.
🟪 The first step: determining the website type and choosing a CMS.
Sites can belong to the categories of B2B, e-commerce, information, etc. SEO tactics depend on the type of site because the way users search for information on the Internet depends on their goal: to buy a product, research a topic, etc.
Creating a website begins with a broad understanding of the business and planning the desired website functionality.
Defining the structure of a website means the relationship of its various pages with the preservation of a certain hierarchy. There are many types of site structure, but the most effective for SEO are the options that maintain a hierarchical form: they consider the resources distribution into sections, categories, cards of goods or services to facilitate the search for the necessary information.
🟪 The second step: structure development.
Structure development and extension is carried out in terms of the following areas:
- Formation of the semantic core
We create a semantic core based on a brief or list of services and goods.
It is essential to consider the search demand when establishing a hierarchy of sections on a site. This approach is vital for maximizing audience reach and ranking for relevant search queries.
- Analysis of niche competitors
In such an analysis, pay attention to the structure and various technical aspects of the implementation of the pages. It’s also important to review metadata, keywords, and blog page structure in case there are any.
By studying competitors’ sites, collect words and phrases that will be useful additions to the semantic core that is the source of key phrases for writing SEO content.
The number of phrases depends on the website size. If the future site belongs to a small business that offers only a few services or products (and, accordingly, has a few pages), then you only need a few different combinations of keywords.
If you are planning a website for a large corporation, store, or even an online shop, you need to collect thousands of keywords.
🟪 The third step: distribution of search queries on the website pages.
After creating the basis for the structure of the future site, distribute the keywords collected during the preparation of the semantic core.
🟪 The fourth step: development of recommendations for the technical optimization
The basic technical aspects that are important to work on:
- URL formatting rules for pages. All URLs should be written for easy understanding by search engines and users;
- internal links on the website that is implemented with the help of bread crumbs, filters, logo, and pages pagination will allow users to easily navigate the site and bots – to scan the pages better and understand their context;
- the ability to fill in and edit unique meta tags and headings on each page;
- the lack of Java scripts in important user content and links;
- the availability of the website only at one address (with www or without www). Similarly, slash and non-slash pages at the end of the URL should not be available at the same time;
- the existence of a 404 page. Non-existent website pages should show 404 HTTP code and not redirect the user to the main or any other page;
- the ability to fill in and edit images alt-attributes.
Let’s consider how the optimizer interacts with the development team at the main stages of resource creation.
Drafting. During the creation of a layout of the future website, an SEO specialist takes part in the structure formation of the pages and the resource itself. This allows the developers to take into account the features of content optimization and relinking.
Design. Together with a UX specialist, the optimizer carefully checks the layouts. When creating a design, it is important to ensure the maximum number of conversion pages and the ability to place all the necessary content.
Layout. Adaptability is the key requirement of search engines for a website layout. The site shall be adapted for PCs, and it must be correctly displayed on other user devices: phones, tablets, laptops, etc.
Programming. At this stage, it is crucial to prevent SEO problems on the site. To avoid them, you need to ensure correct indexing, avoid content duplication, broken links, incorrect redirects, and slow loading.
Testing. At the testing stage, the SEO specialist conducts a final comprehensive audit of the resource to ensure the quality of all previous stages.
Installation of analytics systems. To get data on the website traffic and sales, the implementation of tracking metrics is needed. System for tracking goals and events with different implementation methods are developed manually for each project.
At the project development stage, all the necessary accounts are created in:
- Google Tag Manager;
- Google Analytics;
- Google Search Console.
They are connected and configured in advance. When implementing the terms of reference, the analytics starts working from the first day of the project to get a complete picture of user behaviour. This is especially important when a resource moves because it immediately shows the changes in the new site dynamics.
Launching. Before launching a site, it is important to choose the right domain name and resource hosting, as the efficiency of further search promotion and the correctness of the site may depend on this.
If you follow all the recommendations and implement the necessary improvements, after launching the project, the SEO specialist will deal with:
- Analytics (for going deeper in the subject and understanding the user behaviour specifics in this niche).
- Processing of new sections in case of the website growth.
- Usability (for a regular increase of conversion pages and content).
- Regular monitoring of the website technical condition to fix and eliminate errors.
- Optimization of the external link mass of the site and the formation of a strategy to increase the number of quality donors.
A pre-optimization pool of the previous optimization costs less than post-optimization of the same scale. In addition, the timely work implementation allows you to press out all the potential out of the resource immediately after going public. In its turn, this increases ROMI (return on marketing investment).