Basically, there are no secrets to Search Engine Optimization. The steps are outlined in Google’s Webmaster guidelines. You can read and follow them just as easily as anyone, but it requires some work. There are a few things you could do that would go a long way in your quest for SEO before designing your website.

Domain Name

If you’re starting a new website and have the opportunity to select a domain name, try to select a name that includes your keyword(s). This provides you a valuable relevancy to the services you are providing on your website. For example, if you are starting a website that sells soccer jerseys you may want to think about including those words into your domain name (EX: www.affordablesoccerjerseys, www.soccerjerseysforless.com, www.bestsoccerjerseys.com). By including your keywords in the domain name you will help your search engine rank right off the bat.

Selecting a Web Host

There are some free hosting companies but I don’t recommend using them. Some free web hosting companies bombard your site with ads that drive traffic away from your site, or clutter the content so much that the site doesn’t look “reputable.” Often times, if it’s a busy time of day, your customers or vistors may not be able to access your site because there’s not enough bandwidth. Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be transferred to or from the website or server. Since you’d be sharing your website space with other sites, the ability for visitors to access your site is completely dependent on the popularity of other sites hosting with that same company.

You want to select a web host that meets its promises to keep your site running 24 hours a day 7 days a week and that offers great support with a bandwidth that is not limited for your business use. You only have a few seconds to hold on to that visitor once they’ve reached your site, so don’t risk losing them by saving a few bucks which could potentially cost you a lot of business.

Search Engine Friendly web design

Your website homepage should be aesthetically pleasing and attract attention, but you also want it to be “friendly” to search engines. Search engines read the text and code of your page and use that information to determine how relevant your site. If you optimize your site correctly, you will gain a competitive advantage over other businesses providing similar services.

Make your home page rich in content. This is something you can start to think about before you get your site designed. Thinking about your copy and its importance ahead of time is very beneficial. What services do you provide to your customers? Explain what you do and find out how customers would search for what you do. Include your location if local business is important to you.

Be sure to share your optimization plan with your graphic designer before they start working. There are a lot of ways designers and programmers can organize your page content and structure to give you the best organic search engine results.

Select focus keywords

Keywords/phrases are the search terms people use to find the information they’re looking for. Search engines use those to find your site so they can display it in the search results. For example, for my business, which is designing websites, a good key phrase would be “unique website design”. Choose words you think people are going to use to search for your goods or services. There needs to be a balance between using unique phrases (to set you apart from competition) but not TOO unique that your target customer would never type it into a search engine in the first place.

You can use a program such as Google Analytics to track your keywords. It allows you to see where you traffic is coming from, and even what words they’ve typed into the search engine to find your site. Remember to keep an open mind and flexibility and trial & error are key to finding good keywords and phrases. By tracking your keywords you will be able to see trends and which words are working better for you. Use that to your advantage to improve your site’s optimization.

While loading the keyword field is basically useless to do (search engines don’t even use it anymore), optimizing the copy on your pages to use a specific key phrase is helpful in promoting search engine optimization.The rule of thumb is about 8% max. That means no more than 8 words per 100 should be keywords. If you use more than 8/100 ratio, you are setting off a red flag that the text on the page may not be relevant data that people can use.

Remember to write casually and use the key phrase in a way that you would in normal conversation. Search engines like Google are smart, and will pick up on your funny business and anything you try to do to trick the engine into giving you a better ranking. Your best bet is to write quality content.

Resources:

  • Google’s Webmaster Guidelines - Following these guidelines will help Google find, index, and rank your site.
  • Google analytics - Write better ads, strengthen your marketing initiatives, and create higher-converting websites. Google Analytics is free to all advertisers, publishers, and site owners.