All you need is a website, right?

Having a website is an important piece of your overall communication and marketing strategy. Once your brand-new website is launched, the new clients will be ringing your phone off the hook, right? Well … there’s a little more involved.

During the website design process, clients often have questions about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and how to attract visitors to their new website. The single most important thing you can do is to give visitors the information they’re looking for. Take some time to consider the content you’ll be putting online – what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging? Here’s how to help your website stand out in a crowded field.

All you need is a website, right?

Give visitors the information they’re looking for

  • Provide high-quality content on your pages, especially your homepage. This is the single most important thing you can do. If your pages contain useful information, their content will attract visitors and entice others to link to / share information from your site.
  • Create a useful, information-rich site, by writing pages that clearly and accurately describe your content. This could take the form of publishing reports, writing blog posts, sharing research findings, or producing detailed case studies.
  • Your future customer wants to find you on Google. What words will they search for? Make sure that your content includes those words.
  • Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging – make your website stand out from others in your field.

Behind the scenes: best practices for page titles & descriptions

As your website is developed, I’ll incorporate page titles and descriptions in code (tags) behind the scenes, based on your content – you can help by making sure these are accurate and descriptive.

This example of search results for “Mad Bird Design” shows the page title and description:

Google search results for Mad Bird Design
  • Page Title: Make sure every page on your site has a title specified in the title tag. Titles should be descriptive and concise (aim for 65 characters). Avoid vague descriptors like “Home” for your home page, or “Profile” for a specific person’s profile. Also avoid unnecessarily long or verbose titles, which are likely to get shortened when they show up in the search results.
  • Avoid keyword stuffing. It’s sometimes helpful to have a few descriptive terms in the title, but there’s no reason to have the same words or phrases appear multiple times. A title like “Foobar, foo bar, foobars, foo bars” doesn’t help the user, and this kind of keyword stuffing can make your results look spammy to Google.
  • Avoid repeated titles. Write distinct, descriptive titles for each page on your site.
  • Page Description: Make sure every page on your site also has a meta description. This is a short summary / description (1-2 sentences / 155 characters). A meta description tag should generally inform and interest users with a short, relevant summary of what a particular page is about. This is your web page’s elevator pitch, to convince the user that the page is exactly what they’re looking for.
  • Avoid repeated descriptions. Identical or similar descriptions on every page of a site aren’t helpful when individual pages appear in the web results.
  • Need help? Read Yoast SEO’s characteristics of a good meta description.

Behind the scenes: descriptive titles for images

As your website is developed, I will add descriptive titles (alt text or tags) to your images.

  • Adding images to your web pages and blog posts encourages people to read them, and well-chosen images can also back up your message and get you a good ranking in image search results.
  • Google extracts information about the subject matter of website image from the content of the page, including captions and image titles. Wherever possible, make sure images are placed near relevant text and on pages that are relevant to the image subject matter.
  • The filename can give Google clues about the subject matter of the image. For example, classroom-students.jpg is better than IMG00023.JPG.
  • Alt text (text that describes an image) improves accessibility for people who can’t see images on web pages, including users who use screen readers or have low-bandwidth connections.
  • When choosing alt text, focus on creating useful content that uses keywords appropriately and is in context of the content of the page. Avoid filling alt attributes with keywords (keyword stuffing) as it results in a negative user experience and may cause your site to be seen as spam.
Students in classroom ready to learn

BEHIND THE SCENES: Examples of Alt TEXT

  • Bad (missing alt text): img src=”classroom-students.jpg” alt=””
  • Bad (keyword stuffing): img src=”classroom-students.jpg” alt=”students classroom school students student pupil learner schoolchild children child kids boys girls learning elementary class room school room study hall lecture room study homeroom education questions teaching teacher instruction learn”
  • Better: img src=”classroom-students.jpg” alt=”students”
  • Best: img src=”classroom-students.jpg” alt=”students in classroom ready to learn”

Website design for SEO

Here’s where I come in! As your website designer, I’ll follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines to ensure your site is fully accessible, help search engines quickly find the most relevant webpages, and allow pages to be easily shared on social media. In the design process, I will:

  • Design a website that is visually appealing and accessible on all modern browsers and devices. Many visitors will be looking at your page on a smartphone or tablet, and Google search prefers websites with a mobile-friendly design.
  • Test to ensure that your website shows up on Google and its pages are indexed (site:yourwebsite.com).
  • Verify ownership and submit a sitemap of your website at Google Search Console.
  • Provide a secure online experience with an SSL certificate, installed on the hosting server to give visitors confidence that the site is authentic and trustworthy.
  • Install Yoast SEO‘s search engine optimization tools on WordPress websites.

Spread the word!

  • Make sure that other sites link to yours. Links help Google’s crawlers find your site and can give your site greater visibility in search results. When returning results for a search, Google uses sophisticated text-matching techniques to display pages that are both important and relevant to each search. Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote by page A for page B. Votes cast by pages that are themselves “important” weigh more heavily and help to make other pages “important.”
  • Ideas for links: Partner websites, online advertising, and anywhere your business is listed, such as Google My Business, LinkedIn, Facebook, Better Business Bureau, business directories.

More questions? SEO topics or tips you’d like to see added to this post?
Let me know!