One of the most common SEO mistakes is to not consider it as part of the initial web design process. These 10 basic SEO tips for new websites will hopefully help you to prevent search engine optimisation being an afterthought that involves unpicking time-consuming and perhaps expensive website development work.
There is also a useful video from Maile Ohye at Google Webmaster Help, guiding you through some set-up principles.
1. Define your ideal visitors and how you can help each of them. Put each of them into a ‘persona’ and plan the journey for each of them through your website from welcome, to information, to FAQs, to ‘Call to Action’ or CTA.
2. Guide your visitors with text. Put the information and guidance through the journey defined in point 1 into text form. Many web designs use visuals such as images and animations to guide visitors through their site, but these can be harder or impossible for search engines to read and index.
3. Talk your customers’ language. You may have industry terminology used by product or service providers that is different from what the lay-person visitor may use to find you.
4. Choose your domain name. It is now thought that ‘exact match domains’ – those that are the same as your target phrase, such as buywidgetsonline.com offer much less SEO benefit than they used to, so focus on something memorable and relevant, like your company / brand name and / or something that describes the content but reads naturally for your visitors.
5. Organise your content into topics. Don’t try to cram everything onto one big page. This can be exhausting for visitors and makes it harder for search engines to categorise as being particularly relevant for any given topic. Ideally, each page on your site will cover one main topic.
6. Implement key web page elements for SEO. A very important page element for SEO is the title tag, shown in code of your page as. Make sure that this contains a brief explanation of the page content that includes your main target phrase(s) for that page within about 60 characters. Don’t stuff keywords or be repetitive though.
7. Enhance pages with description tags and descriptive urls. A meta description shows as the snippet of text under your link in search engine results pages (SERPs), so gives your the opportunity to further explain and encourage a click to your site within about 150 characters. Making the url of the page include your main phrase, with keywords separated by hyphens, more appealing to humans, as well as potentially giving a small SEO boost.
8. Install and use SEO tools. If using a content management system (CMS) like WordPress, install an SEO plugin like Yoast to give you more control for points 6 and 7 above, as well as a range of useful tools for more detailed optimisation later.
9. Install analytics code from the outset. A tool like Google Analytics will help a lot after go-live, helping you to identify pages that never get seen, cause people to leave early or convert particularly well, and giving countless further insights.
10. Make your content shareable. A good social media presence not only is an additional source of traffic, but plays a part in search engine rankings. You can make your content shareable by a. producing great content and b. adding social sharing buttons for Twitter, Google+, Facebook and more that helps visitors to point their network to your content.
I hope these tips will help you in developing your new, search engine friendly website!