Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and web design are so strongly connected that the simply cannot thrive without each other. The reason is that the way a website is designed could have a very strong influence on its search engine ranking factors.
The one thing search engines care about is how your website is structured. They don’t pay attention to what colors you use or what layout you have chosen. That means that if you want the website you build to be fully optimized you need to know how to structure it well. In the same time, there are many web designers that focus only on the design and the way how their website looks without paying attention to the structure.
Another reason why it’s important for people designing a website to know SEO basics is that in the era of website building platforms that let everybody create a website all by themselves it’s easy to get lost in the whole SEO thing.
In this article, we’ve explained some key conceptions about SEO. The information won’t make you an SEO guru for sure, but it’s enough to structure your website in a good way so that it will be preferred by the major search engines. We’ve also provided some useful link to other useful resources on the web you can check for each topic.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) is the practice of improving a website so that it goes higher in the Search Engine Result Page (SERP). In order to understand how SEO works, you need to know how search engines like Google rank pages. To do so, they use a sophisticated algorithm that evaluates each web page based on different criteria. The full set of criteria aren’t disclosed by the search engines, but SEO professionals are doing a pretty good job in guessing them. That means that SEO is a practice of trying to make your website more appealing to search engines by optimizing it based on these criteria.
Why is SEO important for every website?
SEO is the most cost-effective way to get Internet users to see your website. And with such a big competition out there it’s practically impossible to receive any organic traffic (that is traffic coming from search engines) without knowing a thing or two about SEO.
What can you do in terms of SEO when building your website?
There are certain things you can do for your website so that it’s properly optimized from the beginning. To be able to do so, you need to get familiar with the key concepts of on-page optimization. The on-page optimization consists of factors that are controlled by you, such as meta tags, keywords, headings, optimizing URLs and images, and more.
Where to start?
There is no strict rule about what to optimize first on your website as everybody has its own preferences, but it’s a good idea to start by optimizing your content and then move to things like meta descriptions, meta tags, URLs, and images.
Each page of your website should target a different keyword. If you are doing a website for a client that has provided the content of the pages, or if you work with a copywriter, you don’t need to worry that much about keyword research, but if you write the copy by yourself, you need to be prepared.
There are plenty of useful resources on keyword research (Just type “How to do keyword research” on Google and you will be overwhelmed. Almost every SEO guru has shared his thoughts on the topic). You can check out Copyblogger’s blog post about doing keyword research for starters and then expand your knowledge with this post from Kissmetricks. You should definitely take a look at Moz’s guide on do keyword research in 90 minutes, as well.
Optimizing your web pages for SEO
When designing a website with a website building platform such as Oxxy, you will need to have a basic understanding of how to optimize your pages. Just adding and styling your texts and images is not enough and if you want to make sure that your website will be ranked well, you need to pay some extra attention.
In order to optimize your website content, you need to get familiar with some key concepts, such as titles, meta descriptions, headings, page links and URLs.
The title of your pages appears on several key places. It’s what Google displays at the top of the search result. You can also view it when you post your page on social media and on the tab of your browser. It’s good to keep the title between 50-60 characters as if you make it longer, Google will cut it down when displayed in the SERP. It’s also important to include your primary keyword and your brand in the title of your pages.
You can learn about title tags in this guide from Moz where they’ve included a nice tool to test how your title will look in the SERP. You should definitely also check the 9 best practices for optimizing title tags from Search Engine Land.
Another important thing to customize is the URL address of each web page. Both for SEO and for your visitors it’s good to have clear URLs. For example, a good URL for your homepage is http://www.yourwebsite.com/home. And your contact page should be http://www.yourwebsite.com/contacts instead of http://www.yourdomain.com/123434.
Some good tips to consider when adjusting the URLs of your web pages are:
- Use readable URLs – always use real words that a human could read instead of numbers or other parameters
- Use hyphens in URLs – the only possible way to separate words in your URL is by using hyphens, not underscores or dots.
- Use keywords – include the primary word of your web pages in the URL.
The meta description represents a description of your web page that is only visible on the SERP and when sharing your page in certain sites, such as Facebook and Google Plus. According to many SEO experts, the meta description is not an important ranking factor but it’s very useful as it can increase the number of clicks on SERPs.
When writing the meta descriptions of your pages, make sure that they are compelling and will make the users click on them. It’s also good to include your primary and secondary keywords in the meta description, preferably in the beginning. In terms of length, the description should be between 150-160 characters including spaces. Make sure also that each of your pages has a unique meta description.
For further info about meta description, you can check this guide from Moz.
Now we get to the structure of your content. Just as in newspaper articles, your texts will usually have a heading signaling what your text is about. Then there are the subheadings that separate your text in smaller sections. And the only way for search engines to recognize your headings is by using the special heading tags.
The heading tags are labeled from H1 (the most important) to H6 (the least important). On every page you should have only one H1 tag and no more than 2-3 H3 tags. If you want your content to be well optimized, don’t overuse headings. A lot of SEO experts also suggest that it’s good to include your keyword in the H1.
When optimizing your website content you should also think of the images on your pages. The most important optimization factor for images is the alt text. The alt text is used by search engines to understand images as they cannot instantly recognize it without you providing some additional information.
The other things you can do to optimize the images on your pages are to choose a keyword rich file name that will help your image rank better in image searches and to optimize its size. The file size is important as when you put larger images on your pages, your website will load slower which is a bad signal for search engines.
The bottom line
When using a website builder such as Oxxy, you need to have basic understanding about how search engines work and what is important if you want your website to rank better. You need also to know not only how to make a stunning website visually, but also how to make it good in terms of SEO. That means to make the content structured and to include all the important meta tags, such as meta descriptions, title tag and etc.
If you use Oxxy to create a website for you or for a client, you can easily adjust these meta tags from the SEO settings menu. You don’t need to worry about code and where to put it. You just need to open the SEO panel of each page and enter the information.