When a business decides to redesign their website, or even have one built for the first time, often the first port of call is finding the right website designer. Decisions are made on the colours, the look and the feel and in a few short weeks, a gleaming website is presented to it’s new owners – ready to take on the world.
However, a few months later, a problem has surfaced. Although the site looks amazing, it’s not actually getting any traffic, because no one can find it. So the focus shifts to search engine optimisation to rectify the problem.
Unfortunately, this typical process is the polar reverse of the process that should be undertaken when thinking of a new website. The FIRST step should be to carry out keyword research to understand what your website can be found for by the searching public, even before the sitemap is discussed.
To understand why this is important, we need to consider the role of the search engines. Their job is simply to provide the most accurate information to its customers – the searchers. In order to do this, it needs to consider a number of factors when determining which websites will rank where.
There are two aspects to search engine optimisation, on-site and off-site. The on-site relates to all the factors on the website itself, for example the content, titles and descriptions. The off-site relates to all factors that happen away from the site – essentially linkbuilding. Ensuring that both on-site and off-site optimisation are correct are essential for successful ranking positions.
However, before we can delve any deeper, there is a necessary step required before even any of these – keyword research. We have written blogs before on the importance of keywords, but in a nutshell, without finding the right ones, your website is doomed to fail.
But armed with the keywords that you wish to be found for BEFORE you build your site puts you in a hugely advantageous position. It allows you to build your site structure around the keywords, creating categories/pages using keywords in the URL and filling the pages with keyword rich content.
Let’s say for example you sell fishing gear from your website.
Site A has not undertaken any keyword research or understood the importance of site structure and has created pages using generic words: ie http://sitea.com/fishingtackle
Site B however has understood this process and carried out research. They want to promote their range of ‘Middy fishing reels’ and know this keyword generates good search numbers. So they call the page http://www.siteb/MiddyFishingReels and fill the page full of keyword rich content.
Site A may well sell Middy fishing reels also, but they are lost in the depths of a page entitled fishing tackle. Therefore, Google can immediately identify between the two sites as the keywords appear in the URL, the content as well as the titles and descriptions of site B, resulting in a higher rank.
Of course there are many other factors and strategies that an SEO provider can use to assist with ranking. But the battle is always significantly easier, faster and less expensive when the structure is put in place first. Think of it like building a house – the foundations are always the first things to be laid. Your website should be no different.