Well I can’t promise you that I will be able to tell you all the secrets for attacking your web design and SEO, but I will certainly be able to shed light on a number of tasks that we go through at Essential Marketer to ensure that any website we build gets the full attention from our SEO team and our Design/Development team.
It is highly important, as we mention in many of our articles, to get the balance of great web design and SEO to ensure a client’s measurement of success is fulfilled and 90% of the time a client is always pleased with a great looking website at first, but if it doesn’t go on to provide them with business, well it might as well be none existent.
Once the sitemap has been confirmed, the web design and SEO teams will join forces to discuss the design and layout of all the high priority ‘money’ landing pages throughout the website.
The landing pages are based upon the keyword research that has already been carried out. Page title, meta descriptions and H1’s will all be confirmed by the SEO team and any additional specifications such as crawl priorities within the sitemap and change frequency.
The design team will then begin work on creating wire frames and flat image design ideas alongside, depending on the project size, basic HTML structured page mock ups to give the client a better idea of how they will function and feel.
Once the initial design have been completed the web design and SEO team will meet up again to discuss the outcome and refine any design and layouts to ensure all the client’s needs for gathering information and selling their services are covered.
This final meeting deciding the layouts is vital and can be the make or break point of any web design and SEO process.
If not the highest of importance, the beginning of the web design and SEO process is to confirm a strong site structure/architecture and enable a menu/navigation solution that enables users to find their way to the information they require easily and effectively.
Any SEO team should put together a rough site structure based on keyword research produced in proposals and initial investigation, this is a pretty basic requirement, and for the average website you will find that it normally looks something very similar to the information shown below:
By producing an outline of how the site structure is going to be implemented, the SEO team can ensure that the site will be crawled correctly, build an accurate sitemap.xml file and ensure that the content plan going forward has been catered for and will enable the client to expand their website with great ease.
Once the SEO team have confirmed all the work, a meeting should go ahead to discuss the menu design. Again, one of the most important processes within the site build is to ensure that you have a strong navigation solution throughout the website. This will keep Google analytics visit times up, bounce rates down, number of pages visited up and will also give the user a fantastic experience while browsing the website.
It is important that the web design and SEO teams work closely together on this section as it sets the foundations of everything to come for the website.
Quality expert content from any business owner is becoming a huge part of SEO and any website’s strategy, and moving into the second half of 2013 it should include it; Matt Cutts’ himself has even come out on his video blog to mention the importance of sharing quality content with Google.
With this in mind, a plan from anything between 3-300 months for content creation is vital and any SEO team should be ensuring the client is aware of this prior to their new website going live.
A plan to have the main structure of the content written and completed prior to the launch of a website is vital and this is where the design will contribute in the process. Ensuring there is sufficient imagery, photos, videos and design work such as infographics, graphs and graphics throughout the content to ensure that the user has visual elements staggered through the relevant and important information.
High quality content is top priority to rank highly for your desired keywords in Google, and interesting imagery is extremely important to keep the user on the site. Together both of them are equally as important and are a key element.
Once all the content has been created and the relevant imagery has been used within the site, it is then important for the SEO team to sieve through and look for important opportunities to create internal links throughout the site.
This helps pass the link juice throughout the website and place it into more important pages that require more power and authority than others. It is vital to have a great internal linking strategy in place and this can make a huge amount of difference on a site’s rankings – we have seen this happen many times before.
Alongside the SEO team creating internal links it is also vital that any website has the correct lower level navigation to ensure the user can get to the other relevant information that they are viewing. Creating category menus with relevant content on, providing additional services menus to show a viewer that you are experts in other areas – all these vital pieces can provide you with a solid workhorse of a website that will bring you in lead after lead.
Combining these a great internal linking strategy and a great low level navigation solution can increase the indexability of any website, and from the websites that we see every day a lot of web design and SEO agencies should think about placing more resource within this area of any website build.
To be honest many people don’t want or don’t allow them to be combined. Day after day we see websites that have been built with no SEO in mind and also the reverse with functionality and SEO in mind but absolutely no design thought at all.
There are a lot of arguments and even more opinions as to whether design or SEO is more important, but if you think about it they both go hand in hand and are both equally as important within any successful website’s life.
So next time you hear someone preaching one is more important than the other, they are obviously just trying to corner you placing more budget into one, so be careful!