There is a fine balance between creating online content that will engage an audience and creating content to impress the algorithms used to collate search engine results pages. Although the increasing sophistication of these algorithms has reduced the disparity between these two audiences, it’s still important to consider how new web content will be viewed by Google and Bing when deciding which website builder is best for SEO.
Here are our top tips for building a website with SEO in mind:
The first thing to remember is that search engine optimisation isn’t all about content.
The actual construction of your site is also very important, from a logical page structure to a responsive design that resizes on smaller screens. Page loading times play a big factor in modern ranking results, while responsive websites eliminate the need to duplicate a main website with a mobile version. With page abandonment typically taking place within five seconds of loading, try to avoid unnecessary stylesheets or multimedia files. When deciding which website builder is best for SEO, consider whether any of WordPress’s 48,000 plugins would be worth the drop in page loading times their use may involve.
There are various ‘invisible’ components of a website that are oriented more towards algorithms than people.
A robots.txt file provides search engines with a useful overview of your site, while static and descriptive URLs deliver concise explanations of the content on each page (e.g. www.website.com/about-us). Uncomplicated navigation menus at the top or side of the page are easier for the web crawlers to navigate than dropdown menus, an XML sitemap will allow effective indexing of available pages, and well-chosen image captions can reinforce your brand with every published photo.
Effective use of images also ties back to the first point, since pictures should be rescaled to a minimum size before being uploaded.
Never rely on a plugin or source code to do this on the fly, as it can significantly increase page loading times. Even free software like Windows Paint can reduce a JPEG by 90 per cent without affecting the picture quality too much on a typical webpage. On a related note, never allow video content to automatically play – as well as carrying unwelcome connotations of advertising on media sites, it slows down page loading times. Plus, few things will make audiences jump quite like a video whose soundtrack suddenly bursts into life moments after the text has loaded…
And finally, we come to perhaps the most challenging aspect of building a website with SEO in mind – written content.
It’s vital to strike a balance between making content readable while appealing to search engines with long tail keywords and shorter search terms. Keywords are the centrepiece of any search strategy, since results are collated based on everything from word ordering and capitalisation through to spelling and punctuation. The popularity of keywords also fluctuates over time, so when deciding which website builder is best for SEO, ensure that a content management portal will be available for revisions later on.
To optimise the value of keywords, use them sparingly and organically – search engines have grown wise to the old trick of stuffing keywords into every sentence, and they now punish sites that do so.
Instead, use certain keywords a couple of times on each page and ensure they’re prominent in page titles and tags, image captions, and the opening lines of body text. Analytics tools can determine what phrases people are searching for, and these can be used as the building blocks for content. Incorporating geographic terms is an easy way to improve keyword optimisation; if you run a business in a particular location, ensure that the town and county names appear on most pages to differentiate your brand from rivals elsewhere.