A recent article from Search Engine Land (entitled ‘3 reasons SEO belongs at the beginning of a project, not the end’), discussed how SEO is sometimes treated as an afterthought when actually it should be a “foundational part of every project from the beginning”, with keywords helping to determine content, not just ‘decorate it’.
It’s true that the most effective content strategies always begin with keyword research, as this provides insights into what your potential customers actually want and need (via what they’re searching for online). With this keyword research as a base, you can then begin to generate content which aims to meet these needs.
At Run2, we’re big advocates of putting SEO first. Keyword research should always underpin your content strategy, allowing you to discover – and then fulfil- what your audience wants.
And content marketing isn’t the only place where you should be putting SEO first…
Over the years, we’ve been approached by lots of clients interested in our digital marketing services who want us to work on their existing website. While this is something that we can usually do (luckily, completely unusable websites are few and far between… though we’ve had a couple!), it is usually very apparent that these sites have been designed and built without any thought given to SEO. Because of this, the site itself is often not particularly ‘search friendly’; in this instance we’ll perform a full SEO site set up to get the site in good shape before we begin digital marketing in full.
However, since continuing to expand our design and development team, we’re finding that more and more new clients now approach us to design and build a new website for them before we begin digital marketing. This is music to our ears as it means we really can put SEO at the very start of the project, before a site even goes live. This ensures that the site is optimised for SEO from the very beginning, giving it a head start with Google from the off. So, how do we do it?
Structure Your Site For SEO
Before even beginning to design a new site, it’s important to define a site structure that considers both user navigation and SEO.
The site should be structured based on SEO and user experience; for example, the planned structure may include new sector pages for search purposes, and clear subcategories to help the user- and the Google search spiders!- find their way around the site.
Optimise Your On Site Content
Search engines require a significant amount of relevant content to crawl, so it’s always good to have a volume of content on your site. But rather than just being a case of quantity over quality, it’s important to remember that:
- Content must be written for the user: you should always aim to create valuable and high quality content that your audience will want to consume.
- Content must consider relevant keywords for SEO (without quality being compromised). This goes back to the Search Engine Land article and the importance of using keyword research as a basis for your content strategy.
Do your ‘SEO housekeeping’
Before going live, it’s important to ensure that the website is set up from a search perspective, with all fundamentals in place before it goes live. These fundamentals include technical elements and keyword optimisation to make sure Google can crawl the site with ease and determine how the site should ‘rank’.
Track Your Results
Tracking is vital and will allow you to see how each channel performs, how visitors are engaging with the site, and ultimately which channels are producing a positive ROI.
Which tracking you need on your site depends on which channels you’re using, but as an example, you may require the likes of:
- Google Analytics
- Google Adwords Conversion Tracking
- Google Adwords Remarketing Pixel
- Call tracking (if applicable)
- Any social advertising tracking codes (eg Facebook pixel)
Goals should then be set up to enable you to see which marketing channels are producing results, and where to invest more/less.
Don’t Lose Your Search Authority
Last- but certainly not least- it’s really important to ensure that any ‘search authority’ that does exist on your current site doesn’t get lost; instead it needs to be carried over to your new site. Not implementing redirects properly can have pretty serious consequences from a search point of view and can negatively impact your rankings, but your digital agency should be able to undertake your redirects to ensure that the switchover to your new site goes smoothly.
Whether you’re working on a content marketing strategy or considering a complete site redesign, prioritising SEO at the start of your project will stand you in a much stronger position than if you attempt to ‘slot it in’ at the end. To find out more about making SEO your starting point, get in touch today.