I’m often brought in to consult with new businesses building a website or site redesign due to being outdated or new business models. I often see the same mistakes made or the same questions asked. For SEO purposes I just wanted to lay out some critical pieces that you should use when building the new site that will be important down the road. Some of these things can’t be undone and often web developers (if you don’t use one of my trusted partners) won’t take some of these important things in to account before building your new site.
Make sure you add the following to your to do list when bringing in a developer for a new site.
This is a crucial element of a site redesign. If you are starting a brand new business and have no prior website, you don’t need to worry about this, but even with the same domain I see a lot of people make big mistakes here.
301 redirects simply tell the search engines that the page that used to be at url A is now at url B. When domains change this is a huge issue, but even on the same domain, sometimes a new version of a site will change basic site url’s. If you had a page on your old site for a certain business service and it was at yourdomain.com/service1 and it had generated links or good search placement, and now with the new site, the page addressing that service is called yourdomain.com/serviceA, that is a different page. If you don’t account for the change, you will lose that SEO strength. It is a bigger issue with a whole domain change but it matters for all pages with search engine strength and you should always map the old site pages to the new ones and 301 redirect.
Pick a Fast Template (Even if you don’t do SEO)
Speed is a crucial element of a successful website. It is becoming more and more of a factor for ranking with SEO but it also can be the difference of whether a visitor stays or leaves your site. Studies have shown even with pay per click that slow sites can lose you significant business. Though there are ways to speed up your site through faster hosting plans and organization of images, etc., the theme you pick in WordPress (if it is a WordPress site as many are these days) is the predominant determinant of how fast your site loads. We are often drawn to pretty looking themes but if you have three themes you like and one loads much faster than the other two, it is worthwhile to go with the faster theme. In fact, if I was building a site, I would recommend just looking at the fast themes and then narrowing down from there. This article shows some of the fastest loading WordPress themes this year. It is a good place to start.
Get A Good SEO Plugin Set Up
I would look at the ratings but a couple of good ones to have are Yoast SEO and All in One. I would lean toward Yoast of late, as they seem to be more on top of things, but both are good and it is a constantly changing world, so I’m sure others will come around. It is important you can edit your title tags and other meta-tags properly. Keep in mind title tags should be 55 characters or less, be catchy, and include the core concept of the page that you would like to rank for. Often these plugins have default setups that automatically put in your page or post title and then the site title. Turn these defaults off and name each of your pages individually. This is an important part of SEO. You can add these plugins later down the line, but it is best to take care of everything from the start.
Build Pages For All Of Your Key Products or Services
SEO works on a page by page concept basis. If there is something you want to rank for you should have a page dedicated to it. I often see smaller business create a “Services” page that lists all of your services and then want to rank for everything. You need to create an individual page with good unique content for each of those things you would want to rank for. For example, an electrician may have pages for outdoor lighting, holiday lighting, corporate accounts, and many many more. They should all have a page and unique content. Once you build up domain strength, each of these targeted pages can show up and bring traffic for these unique services and better turns your visitors in to customers or clients.
Build In A Blog
I know it seems intimidating to have to blog but it is crucial. In SEO, content is king. As I mentioned above, SEO works on a page by page basis, and every blog post is a new page. If you want to do very targeted keyword, you can address them with a specific page. That contractor that wants to show up for “home additions” in another town, can write a post about a great job he did in that town and rank for it. That dentist that offers a hot new service can write a page about it and suddenly have a page of their site using their domain strength to target at a new keyword concept. Blog posting isn’t as hard as you think. You can write in your own voice and can write about successful jobs you’ve done, your take on news in your industry, your activities in the community, or even sprinkle in personal things that show your personality as your brand.
Hopefully this post will serve as a little bit of a tool kit for you when you meet with the developer to create a new or new to you website. These pieces are all important for continued SEO success, and often for PPC (speed and concept pages).
If you need help for your next site design and don’t want to accidentally overlook some important piece of the puzzle, give us a call to come in and assist the process.