Some of the best search engine optimisation (SEO) results can be achieved by optimising site design and content to according to the factors used by search engines to index web pages. Good site design makes it easier for search engines to index your site, and increases your chances of a higher ranking in the results pages. Basic SEO techniques include:
- site accessibility
- high quality content
- links to and from other websites
- use of relevant keywords
Make your site accessible
The most important part of making a website search-engine friendly is good design. A well designed website that will get repeat visitors as well as satisfied customers will include:
- well-written, interesting content
- easy-to-navigate pages
- well-designed e-commerce systems
You should consider the technologies to be used and whether they lend themselves to SEO. Although SEO can always be improved, it is harder to do so once the technology is in place and the website has already been built. If you use a content management system, you should make sure it produces SEO-friendly pages.
For more information, see best practice in web design.
More technical considerations include the use of friendly URLs, standards-compliant code and dynamically created XML sitemaps that can be used by search engines to index your website. Ensure that you don’t prioritise ‘style over substance’. Any features to enhance how your website looks should be balanced with search indexing, accessibility and usability issues.
Have high quality content
Regularly updated, well-written, relevant content will improve your SEO. It also provides a good reason for others to link to your website and for users to return. Blogs are an excellent way of keeping your content fresh and is well received by search engines.
Descriptive page titles and subheadings will contain relevant keywords. This will both help users understand what they are reading and help search engines match your content to related search queries.
Nowadays, mobile devices, such as smart phones, are commonly being used to access search results. Research indicates that now more than half of search traffic comes from mobile devices (Statista, 2017). Search engines will 'qualify' content based on how well it will render on mobile devices. Although your website will be viewable on mobile devices, a more effective mobile presence may require a responsive mobile website. You can check if your site is responsive using Google’s mobile-friendly test.
When optimising for mobile, you should think about the nature of 'mobile 'search' and whether location-based keywords should be included in your key phrases. If you design a mobile website you should consider:
- using CSS layouts (style sheets) to support cross platform compatibility
- page layout and information hierarchy given limited screen space
- the types of content that you use, eg the use of rich media will increase download times
- the placement of any navigation and ease of use on mobile devices
- optimising e-commerce functionality for mobile, eg shopping cart