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How to properly prepare your website for SEO

How to properly prepare your website for SEO

Modern websites are constantly being updated to align them better with new technology and user expectations. After a while, some websites begin to look like Frankenstein’s monster with so many ad hoc features tacked on, that their Search Engine Optimization (SEO) becomes a mess.

If people can’t find your company online, how can they be expected to buy from you? SEO is essential for any online success. Research shows that about 70% of customers will click on the top five results of a search. If your site lists lower than this, it’s highly unlikely people will make it onto your website.

Websites without good SEO protocols are a bit like babies. They don't understand language (no index pages), have few friends (no links) and lack authority (can't do much to help your business). Google only starts to notice your website as it matures.

SEO is the process of increasing website traffic via search engine results to put your website in front of potential customers. So, if you own a fitness website that offers tips and tricks for losing weight, a person searching "how to lose fat" will have a greater chance of finding your website if it uses good SEO techniques.

Google is key to good SEO. Google uses “crawler” bots (software that collects documents from the web to build a searchable index for the Google Search engine) to find the websites with the most relevance and authority on a topic. SEO-friendly websites make it easier for the crawlers to find, interpret and index your website.

This article will help you prepare any website for SEO success and beat the competition.

Mobile first

You must respect the freedom of your visitors. To achieve this, your website must be accessible with any device – from a desktop to the smallest mobile smartphone. Mobile-friendliness is a requirement, not a luxury.

More people than ever are accessing the internet with smartphones so optimizing your website for mobile devices is essential. In 2021, 56% of all internet traffic came from mobile devices – and this trend will only continue. Google search considers mobile compatibility as one of its top search engine ranking elements.

If your website includes a check-out section for purchasing, the process should be simplified for mobile users as people won’t be as patient when shopping with a smartphone as they would be when using a desktop.

Another good SEO trick is to reduce the total number of fields in any form and make it easier for users to use visual calendars to pick dates instead of scrolling through a list of numbers. It’s also a great idea to deploy guest checkouts and ask mobile customers if they'd like to create a shopping cart.

Mobile screens are smaller than desktops and they operate on slower networks, so simplicity and clarity is key. It’s smart to only display the most essential content and ensure your website doesn't have intrusive pop-ups or unintuitive scrolling. A well-structured page layout allows mobile users to view all content with ease.

As far as forms and SEO go, clear & concise is the way forward. We prepared these mobile-friendly application forms for the Swedish cross-border recruitment platform Lingocruit. Just a few input fields make this project much more accessible, and much more SEO-friendly.

Page speed

Page speed is crucial for both SEO and securing sales conversions. Let's face it, when was the last time you waited more than 10 seconds for a website to load? Probably never, right? You'll click the "back” button or go somewhere else if a website takes more than a few seconds to load. You'll also give up filling out a form if it’s too slow to load. For the business, a slow site can mean a lost sale.

In terms of SEO, page speed has been measured by Google as a ranking indicator since 2018. Websites that load quicker also perform better on other business metrics. For example, research from Strange Loop showed that a 100 millisecond decrease in website load time increased conversions by 8.4%.

Millennials (around 21-46 years old) prefer shopping online. A study showed that over 40% of millennial visitors will leave if the site takes more than three seconds to load. You don't want to lose these conversions due to non-responsive web design.

A slow site will also spook Google’s crawlers. Even if Google can find and index your pages, a slow load time will convince the search engine that your website isn’t likely to provide a great user experience. As a result, Google could remove your site from the search results entirely, or at least demote it to the dreaded “page 2.”

Site speed can be affected by too many HTTP requests, large JavaScript and CSS files, and large images that need to be loaded. So, try to get rid of any heavy website elements and only keep the widgets that you and your customers will use regularly. You can also compress pictures and videos to speed up your page load times. In another blog post, we’ve detailed how and why you should optimize images for the web.

Content optimization

Before you post anything on your website, ask yourself: will it educate, attract or delight the customers? If the answer is no, reframe the content until your website can catch its users’ attention. Although this article is about SEO, it is always important to write first for your visitors, then for search engines:

– Titles. Make sure to come up with attractive, yet descriptive page and subpage titles. Alternatively use catchy captions to grab people's attention.

– Keywords. Focus on useful and relevant information that will help people find your site. You can combine keywords and use different forms of keywords, rather than trying to add as many as possible. Google doesn’t appreciate “keyword packing” content;

– Topics. Each page should cover a unique topic. It will only cause confusion if more than one page has the exact same product or intent. It can also lead to two pages competing with the same keywords;

– Quality. Be original and purposeful. After all, visitors are searching for a solution to their problem. Learn what Google considers high-quality content and how to make it on your website;

– Freshness. Add new content regularly. Some good options include starting a blog, encouraging people to share information and writing whitepapers or short e-books that people can download;

– Length. The average website should contain no more than 500 words. But the ideal length for a blog post is about 1600 words because it sends Google a signal that people are likely to spend more time on your site. This will rank your site higher in search results.

While you should always write engaging content, don't forget to include important information. Your website should clearly identify what the company does, its contact details, value proposition, a description of its products (including specifications, colors, shipping and return policies, or case studies if you offer services) and testimonials or reviews about your products and services.

Another important factor to remember is the site’s meta description. This is the short synopsis of your company that people will see in search results under the URL of your website. Unfortunately, meta descriptions are not SEO-friendly, but they can encourage searchers to click your site.

Your meta descriptions should not exceed 155-160 characters if you are using a WordPress site. To give search engines and readers a clear understanding of your offerings, make sure to include keywords in your title tags as well.

The user's vision is naturally drawn to the bigger titles, then it flows down to the smaller text. This sort of content hierarchy is not only good for readability and successful delivery of information, but it's also a recommended practice when it comes to implementing good SEO.

Internal linking

Internal linking will increase traffic and build trust. In simple terms, internal links connect one page to another within a website. A consistent and robust internal linking system can help your site rank higher in searches for certain keywords and help direct Google to present only the most important pages.

Google interprets links from high-quality sites as signals of credibility. Your pages will rise in the rankings if you have a strong backlink profile. Building quality backlinks requires effort but you will see results quickly if it’s done right.

Your website's structure can also be reflected in permalinks. A permalink, as the name implies, is permanent. It is not recommended to use dates or information that could change. Let's suppose you are writing a blog on "Top 5 Marketing Tips for 2020". While this is a fantastic topic, you should leave out “2020” in your permalink. This will allow you to update the article for 2021. It’s a great rule to keep in mind, that also applies to pages dedicated to holidays that happen every year.

Permalinks shouldn't be too long, but they should clearly explain what the website is all about and contain clear, meaningful keywords. If you own an online bookstore, for example, organize your pages using the permalinks to make it easy for search engines to understand the context.

Try to link any new post or content to one that you’ve already written. This will improve the user experience by keeping people on your site for longer. It also helps bots index and contextualize your websites.

Footer links aren't a major SEO factor. They can, however, improve your website's ranking by providing a better user experience. Footer links allow people to discover relevant content, learn more about your company, and they also improve your brand.

People-friendly SEO

In the heat of optimizing your website, never forget that its target audience will always be humans, rather than search engine bots. Overzealous keyword implementation, or an unintelligible copy will drive people away. After every major SEO-oriented change, remember to always check your website’s readability: ask a friend to browse and read-through your website, or have a go at it yourself.

While there are no strict rules when it comes to what passes as an outright human-friendly or a bot-friendly SEO, best practice is to avoid needless repetitions, irrelevant tags, and overly long pieces of text which don’t answer the question.

The practice of implementing a more human-like approach to SEO is future-proof, and it will likely become a necessity in the future. Changes in the way Google crawler bots operate that were implemented in 2022 suggest an incoming Internet-wide turn towards a more trustworthy, coherent, and human-friendly content.

Finally, one final golden rule. A good strategy for SEO should be one of the first considerations before starting a website, as it is immensely better to implement a consistent and thought-through strategy, rather than fix a website after its premiere.

Hopefully this checklist will help you save valuable time and resources and allow you to experience the beauty and benefits of good SEO. It will save you a lot of time and headaches when it comes to web development, content formatting, design, URL structures, and other related tasks.

We offer a simple and effective way to create digital products that you will fall in love with.

The focus of our expertise include e-commerce, fintech, retail, SaaS, education, and more. Our creative and development processes are fully transparent, so you will always get what you need. We guarantee that your website will never go offline, and we’ll advise you on your website’s next steps.

Contact us for a quick video call on how to build your new digital presence.

Rafał Pawlak

Head of Delivery

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