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Best practices for creating a SEO friendly website

Posted on 22nd February, 2018 by Chris Stott

Web Design

Having a new website created for your business is an exciting time as you can update the design of your old website and replace it with a modern design that reflects your company. But one of the common traps that many businesses fall into is failing to think of how a new website will affect their organic rankings and SEO. In this blog, we’ll look at some of the best practices for creating a new website and how you can ensure that it is built with SEO in mind.

Domain name

One of the first decisions that you’ll need to make when looking at a new website is whether to stick with your existing domain name or go for something new. If you have a well-established domain name then it is normally advisable to stick with your current domain. You can use other domain names but these should be redirected using a 301 redirect to your main domain.

Practices such as picking a domain name with your target keywords should not be used as this has no ranking benefits and generally leads to a long domain name. If you do want a new domain name then try to use something that is short and memorable and avoid hyphens, numbers and strange spellings as these are all things that could make it harder for customers to find your business.

CMS

Content management systems have come a long way over the past decade. At one time if you wanted to manage a website and update the content you would need to learn at least one coding language, now thanks to content management platforms like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal anyone can update their own website.

Platforms like WordPress were originally developed as a blogging platform but over the years they have quickly evolved into a powerful content management system with the ability to create a beautiful website with all sorts of functionality. WordPress is the most popular CMS system in the world and for most businesses offers a great starting point.

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Hosting

Once you’ve decided on your domain and CMS system it’s time to take a look at your website hosting. Ideally, your hosting should be in the same country as your target audience and many providers now offer solutions that are tailored to certain CMS platforms for optimum performance. With the rise of mobile phones, you need to ensure that your website loads quickly on all devices and a lot of this comes down to your hosting provider.

Site structure

In order for search engines such as Google to understand your website, you need to create the right site structure as this will affect how your website is crawled. The easier it is for the search engines to crawl your website the better chance you have of getting the rankings you want for your business. There are some key elements to look at within a site structure which are:

Information architecture

Your website should be laid out in a way that makes sense to your users. The aim is to create a hierarchy which is as flat as possible while still categorising your pages into meaningful sections. So for an online ecommerce store, you may want to use a structure that is similar to Category > Sub-Category > Product.

URLs

You may think that your URLs don’t really matter but using a sensible naming convention can help users and search engines to understand what your page is about. Take a look at the example below to see which makes more sense:

www.example.com/page1/id=?3/

www.example.com/electronics/microwaves/

I’m sure you’d agreed that the second example is much easier to understand and will help users to easily see where they are on your website. They’d also be reasonably confident that if they removed the microwaves part of the URL above that they would end on a more generic electronics section of your website.

Navigation

Following on from your URLs and site structure is the navigation. This plays a crucial part in helping users to find what they are looking for and making this process as simple as possible. Good navigation uses standard design principles so, for instance, a three line icon for a mobile menu. The easier your navigation is to use and understand the better the chance you have of your visitors sticking around.

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Mobile-friendly design

One thing that you’ll want to make sure is that your new website is mobile-friendly. Over recent years this has quickly changed from becoming a nice to have feature to an absolute necessity for all industries and sectors. With mobile searches accounting for approximately 56% of all search traffic your website needs to be mobile-friendly.

One of the best options and the one which Google recommends is responsive web design. This is used to create a website where the layout and size of elements will change based on the device being used to view the site. There are many benefits of using responsive web design but one of the biggest is the fact that all users will be served the same website so there is no need to maintain multiple versions of the same website.

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