Your website and SEO are like a marriage made in heaven. A website without SEO won’t have much traffic or online visibility while SEO without a website is non-existent. You stand no chance of ranking highly without making sure your website and SEO work together…
Websites and SEO
Your website is an extremely important marketing tool. Not only does it play a vital role in lead generation and conversion rates, but your website also significantly affects your business’s online presence and customer impressions.
When designing and developing a website, you need to consider two things: your users and search engines. You need to create a website that looks good and functions well to help generate a positive user experience, but you also need to make sure your website ranks well in the search results.
The problem is many organisations will have a separate team working on their marketing and SEO efforts and another for website development and maintenance. This can make optimising a website for SEO all the more difficult.
However, an effective web design will look to start implementing SEO best practices right from the start. That’s because the structural elements of your site created in the early design stages are also important for SEO.
It’s no longer enough to create a stunning website with a positive user experience. Nowadays It takes much more to drive quality organic traffic to your site. While a positive user experience is important, alone it won’t help your website to become visible in search queries.
A good web design can help leads become customers, but without SEO, you won’t get many leads to begin with. Your website won’t be ranking highly (if at all) for the keywords that matter to your business and those your customers are searching for.
What is SEO?
If you are wondering what SEO is, fear not! We’ll explain. SEO (or search engine optimisation) involves many different tactics that help to increase your website’s visibility in search results. These tactics involve optimising your website and content for certain keywords, typically found through keyword research.
Unlike paid ads that sometimes appear at the top of search results, SEO is aimed solely at the goal of achieving high organic rankings. You have to pay for adverts, but you don’t pay for organic ranking positions.
The higher your ranking, the better. When over 28.5% of users click the top result on Google (with 15% for the second and 11% for the third), you cannot afford to let high-ranking positions slip. The lower down in rankings you go, the lower the click-through rate. How many people really go beyond the first page of Google results?
For your website and pages to appear in search results, you need to ensure your site can be crawled and indexed. Search engines use crawlers to locate and collect information about pages on your website.
The information collected by these crawlers is then indexed. It is through indexing that your page appears in the search results when relevant to a keyword or phrase entered by a user. How high a page ranks is determined by Google’s algorithms, which use more than 200 factors to determine ranking positions.
That’s why it’s important to adopt and maintain an effective SEO strategy so your website pages stand a much higher chance of ranking high in the search results. Many of the optimisation techniques required for high rankings take place directly on your website.
As well as helping to increase organic traffic to your site, an effective SEO strategy helps to:
- Attract high-quality traffic with a strong intent
- Better user experience on your site
- Helps improve your digital marketing efforts
- Higher brand awareness
- Higher return on investment
- Builds stronger trust and credibility
How your website and SEO work together
For your website to achieve a decent ranking, you need to optimise your site for the search engines. There are lots of ways your website and SEO go together. It’s like a match made in heaven!
If you have a well-designed website but very little traffic, chances are your site may not be very well optimised for search engines. In that case, it may be time to start making vital changes to gain you higher search query rankings leading to much more traffic, leads, and sales.
1. Mobile optimisation
One of the most important ways your website and SEO work together is through mobile optimisation. It’s estimated that over half of traffic now comes from mobile devices, highlighting how important a mobile-friendly design is for your website.
Mobile optimisation is an important ranking in search engine algorithms meaning if your site isn’t mobile friendly, you are losing out on higher ranking positions. Not only is mobile optimisation important for your users, but also for SEO. Especially as Google now prioritises a mobile-first indexing approach.
But what is mobile optimisation? Websites are displayed on all different screen sizes. From larger screen sizes for desktops to smaller screen sizes for mobile devices. A mobile-friendly web design will make it possible for your website’s content to adjust according to screen size, allowing a user to see and interact with your site to achieve their end goal.
Metadata is referred to as the data which describes other data. Metadata is important as it describes the data for elements of a webpage. Metadata is used by search engines to understand the contents of a page.
Optimising metadata for SEO involves:
- Title tags
- Meta descriptions
- Image tags
- Alt attributes
The most important metadata your webpages has are title tags. These work in a hierarchy structure, using H1 tags for the title of a page, followed by H2-H6 tags for subheadings. Using title tags allows search engines to understand the content of a page.
Other metadata, such as image tags are used to tell search engine crawlers the contents of an image. A robot.txt file can be used to tell crawlers how to crawl pages on your site. All metadata should be created when developing new pages on your site. Metadata should be used for every page on your site too.
3. Content hierarchy
Content hierarchy is another way your website and SEO work together. Similar to metadata, content hierarchy helps search engine crawlers to understand the content of a page. The content hierarchy from an SEO perspective also involves link placement.
A content hierarchy is how information is strategically positioned on a page. Essentially, a content hierarchy is used to prioritise the importance of information. As a result, information at the top is considered more important than that at the bottom.
Typically, search engines consider content towards the top of a page to be of more importance and relevance to users. The same goes for links. Links that are higher on a page fare much better than those much lower down.
You may be surprised to find that content hierarchy can affect the quality and success of your web pages. That’s why it’s important to place vital headings, links, and keywords higher on your web pages for a better effect on your SEO.
4. Page speed
Another important way your website and SEO work together is your page speed. Page speed has been a ranking factor for desktops since 2010, and for mobile since 2018. The quicker and faster your page speed, the better for your SEO.
Page speed is also important for your user experience. How quickly your site loads can make or break whether a visitor stays on your site. Research shows that 53% of mobile users will leave a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.
While a high bounce rate is not a ranking factor that will lose you points, it can still indirectly affect your SEO. A high bounce rate can be indicative of slow page speeds, poor mobile optimisation, or bad user experience. These 3 factors do affect your ranking position. So, make you optimise your site for faster page speeds.
5. Creating a sitemap
Sitemaps are an important element for search engine crawlers. Creating a sitemap for your website is the same as creating a blueprint for a building. A sitemap is used to tell crawlers about the content on your site.
A sitemap can be used to allow search engines to find, crawl and index your website. You can also use a sitemap to highlight which pages are more important. There are different types of sitemaps according to content:
- XML sitemap: the most common sitemap that is used to indicate the pages on your site, with links to all the pages.
- Video sitemap: allows search engines to know and understand the video content you have hosted on a page.
- News sitemap: used to help Google find content approved for the Google News platform
- Image sitemap: allows search engines to easily find the images hosted on your site.
Many websites can work without creating a sitemap. However, Large websites with lots of pages will benefit from creating a sitemap. If you have a new website as well without an internal linking structure, you may be advised to create an XML sitemap too.
6. Internal links
Speaking of links, that brings us to the last way that websites and SEO work together. We’ve saved the best for last as the importance of links in SEO cannot be emphasised enough. Links are a crucial way your website and SEO work together.
Even though inbound links to your site are much more beneficial from an SEO perspective, this doesn’t mean you should ignore internal links. An internal link points to another page on your site, unlike external links that point to another domain.
Internal links are important as they can help users and search engines navigate to other pages on your site. An effective internal linking strategy is crucial to building a better site structure and passing authority to pages.
Despite how important internal links are, many will forgo implementing an effective internal linking strategy. Even with an internal linking strategy, the more links a page receives shows to Google that your content is valuable and helpful to users. An effective internal linking strategy is crucial to increasing the value of your pages.
The combination of a well-designed website and SEO optimisation is a sure way to help create a positive user experience and gain higher rankings. However, the important thing to remember is that you are creating value for your customers, not search engines. Even though the lines may sometimes get blurred, it’s undeniable that websites and SEO work together.