It’s all too easy to think that once you have gone through the process of developing a new web design and website that this process alone will increase web traffic, enquiries and orders.
Getting online with a new web design is merely the start of the journey and there is much work to do on SEO (search engine optimization) and traditional marketing to promote your website.
We are often reminded of the much misquoted line from Kevin Costner’s classic 1989 film, Field of Dreams, where he plays Ray Kinsella a novice farmer. While walking through his cornfield one evening, Ray hears a voice whispering, “If you build it, he will come.” Ray continues hearing the voice before finally seeing a vision of a baseball diamond in his field. He ends up building a baseball field, partly in tribute to his dead father and guided by the mysterious voices assuring him that his heroes will just turn up once the field is built.
While we can hope that just building a new website will attract increased new visitors – “if you build it, they will come” – it’s better to be proactive and build in SEO from the beginning of a new web design project. That means thinking about the best options with respect to SEO and digital marketing from the outset. For example if you still use Flash for a website in this day and age then that will cause problems for Google in indexing the content of your website and how it should appear in SERPS. There are, at the time of writing, 60 trillion web pages and Google and other search engines do an incredible job in indexing, classifying and presenting those pages in some sort of sensible order; but you need to help Google make sense of what your website is about. By building SEO and digital marketing into a new web design you are helping Google to index your website more efficiently and then enable them to feature links from your website in search engine results pages.
Here are some SEO and digital marketing issues you should consider when planning your new web design:
Technical choices for your website
There is one fundamental choice to make from the outset of your new web design and that is between using a Content Management such as WordPress, Joomla or Drupal, a static HTML website or a proprietary site builder such as Wix or Moonfruit.
For SEO and digital marketing purposes we favour the control and flexibility offered by a well-designed WordPress website. There are a number of excellent SEO dedicated plugins (Yoast, All in One SEO etc) we can use to optimize the website. A static HTML website should load quicker which is a positive ranking factor for Google but you have the disadvantage of not being able to update the website easily. For example simply adding a new menu item can mean having to change the menu on every page of the website.
The proprietary site builders can end up costing more in the long run as their business model is based on regular income over time – see this blog post from our friends at Peninsula Web Design – Should I use a ‘DIY website builder’ or a professional web design company?
Whatever you choose it’s very important that your website is responsive so it works on Desktops, Laptops, Mobiles and Tablets.
The words used on your website should explain and promote your services, but should also match the type of keywords that potential customers will type into search engines. Each page should be at least 300 words and include keywords in headings and meta tags.
This helps Google to index your website and figure out how to serve up links to your website when people are searching. High quality content also helps you garner backlinks which also helps boost your search engine rankings.
By doing keyword research you can identify the words that people are typing into Google which helps you refine your content so it features in SERPS.
There are a number of free and commercial websites that enable you to conduct keyword research such as Google Keyword Planner Tool, Keyword Tool or Wordstream.
All allow you to enter a seed list of keywords and then give you an indication of search volumes and seasonality as month by month breakdown of searches.
The term user experience is a real buzzword at the moment. If your website has additional features that help users then this will improve the user experience, making them return and possibly share your pages on social media or other websites.
For example an estate agents’ or financial services websites might include an online mortgage calculator as this is just the sort of feature that will interest to people browsing for a new home – see Coventry Estate Agents Foster Lewis and Co Mortgage Calculator as an example.
While extra features will cost more, they are a good way of setting you apart from competitors and boosting the user experience that trumps nice stock images or fancy background images.
When you are embarking on a new web design you need to build in SEO and digital marketing features from the outset. That way you make it more likely that your website will deliver a good return on your investment.