Building a website is not a goal (or may be in very few case) by itself. I often see people requesting a Website... a nice one, with their logo, colour chart, have a slider, bootstrap, etc, etc. But if I ask: "What do you want your website to do for you or your organisation" ? I got a 10 seconds silence with eyes looking for someone else in the room to answer my question.
It happen a lot and that’s ok. Yes that’s ok and it’s our job as project managers, to understand our customers needs and to help them without wasting their time or money. It is to us to analyse and understand what is going on Internet and Digital Media, fields that are constantly changing and evolving. They got their business, their branch, their day to day task to run, maintain and complete !
A website is a part of a company strategy or a tool for an organism you setup for a purpose. Once you know what your website should do - how it should interact with your company, your employees, your customers and volunteers - then you can think about how and if you need people to find your website or something inside it. In this article I would like to share my experiences about "what you can do" directly rather than what and how serious SEO/SEM consulting company can to help you.
I’ll start with a general use cases list as this article is common help and explanation and not the start of a several hours tutorial and I want to focus on the case were you can do something with minimum cost.
The case you need (almost) nothing at all or the minimum
- Your website is a complementary tool (like a help-desk of knowledge database)
- You need a placeholder for identified customers (you don’t want stranger or visitors)
- You are the only one doing something and don't have competitor (you are the only one selling a product or talking about something)
- You need an internal management tool (intranet)
- Your website is open to contact (business card, corporate) in a narrowed sector
- You have defined event and visitors (local business in a small-middle area)
- You give a services that people are in need of and they need to find you
It is better if your website comply with the W3C rules and use a validator like the W3C Markup Validation Service.
There is no 100% good, under 40 warning with as less as possible errors on the report and you should be good.
Page loading speed should be descent again score a 100/100 is (almost) impossible but above 80 or ranked B is very good.
Many free online tools are available to check your pages like Google page speed, Pingdom, GTMetrix, etc.
Once the above is solved here are some rules I follow and they proved to be very effective:
- Give each page a relevant (and unique) title
- Try to use corresponding keywords in the URL (title)
- Do your keyword research using online tools like Google's Keyword Tool
- Add a meta description to each page describing the contents or purpose
Some may say that meta descriptions are not used as much today by Google, but web app like Tiki Wiki use specific and unique page description as meta tags displayed on Social Network post
- Use HTML correctly ( tags, titles and alt attributes on images)
- Don't repeat content but have original information from page to page
- Work harder so your content is unique, relevant to your website and activity
- Content should be reusable and you should avoid dates or informations that timestamp all time relevant article
- Have a website worth visiting and make a bigger website. The bigger your search engine footprint, the more weight you have to throw around
- Mark up your site using schema.org, if applicable, to display rich snippets
- Get your anchor and link text right. Don’t use "Click Here" or "More..." text as a link
- Try to make sure your outgoing links are relevant to the content of your site (rel="nofollow" for ones that aren't, such as ads)
- Build a sitemap for your website and submit it using the Google Webmaster Tools or use integrated tools like Tiki Site Map
- Use Social Networks tools, make your site like-able and share-able
- Make your site crawl-able easily by bot. RSS feeds also help you get crawled
- Try to get linked from other, relevant and high quality websites
Don't go to far with that because it is hard and time consuming
- Tend to use HTTPS for everything (but that's also what I suggest for your and your visitor security)
- Make sure that your site is mobile friendly and use the mobile friendly test.
Generally, if you follow those rules, your website and domain will naturally rank better with Google. Results won't be visible in a week or a month but over time you will get the rank your website deserve.
If you try to speed this process up, using things like keyword spamming on your website, copy of the same content, etc, this is likely to be picked up and blacklisted by Google so avoid this wherever possible.
Another thing that may happen is that you lose sight of what you're trying to do and forget the big picture during the process.
Keep in mind why are you doing SEO in the first place? What is the purpose of your website?
And this is only a step to success. Once a visitor found your website you’ll want them to do, find or input something.
You will need then to focus on the usability, the design, the offer, the product, the checkout process, etc.
Else you did all this for nothing.
But, that’s another story.