How to Build a Website with SEO in Mind

To make sure your site is built for the search engines, be sure to balance these elements in your Web design.

URL Structure:

Don’t bother using page IDs for your URLs. Changing your URLs to a worded structure will not only help with SEO, but it will also help your users know what the page is about. http://www.example.com/services is much better than http://www.example.com/?page_id=41. If you’re using WordPress for your website, you can simply go to Settings > Permalinks > and enter /%postname%/ as a Custom Structure. Also, make sure to have your site go to the www or the non-www version, but not both. That can potentially create duplicate content problems.

Use Flash in Moderation:

Incorporating Flash into your website is not bad, but too much of it is. The search engines are limited by what they can read within the Flash file, so do not put any text or important information within it that you may want the search engines to index.  Also, do not build the entire website using Flash. It will basically shield all your site’s content from the search engines deeming you irrelevant for the majority of keywords you’re going for.

In addition, Google has the new instant preview feature. If you use Flash, it can turn out blank or empty:

Here is a good use of Flash, and a bad use of Flash. Photographers everywhere are notorious for using all Flash websites.

Heading Tags:

Heading tags range from H1 to H6 and are great ways of separating out topics and giving a title to each page of content. When creating content for each page, remember to have only one H1 tag. If it sounds natural, use your keywords within this H1 to maximize its potential.

Here is a good use of H1 tags. A bad example would be any page with more than one H1 tag.

One Topic per Page:

If you have a variety of services or products, do not put them all on one page. Have your homepage be the broad focus of your business and create menus that go over your categories. Only have one product/service per page. It looks better, it’s simpler for the user to find what they need and you’ll thank yourself once you start targeting pages with keywords.

Don’t Use iFrames:

1998 called and they’d like their Web development methods back. Rarely is there a reason to implement iFrames for your website. An iFrame is basically a portal or window into another page within your website. The search engines cannot read the information within that window and that is why they’re useless. For the most part, iFrames have fizzled out but some major sites like Amazon.com and weather information sites will use them to enable users to display their content on their personal website effortlessly.

Here’s a site that uses iFrames. View the source page and search for some of the content you see on the site. You can’t find it and neither can the search engines.

Call to Action:

It doesn’t matter how much traffic your website receives, if it doesn’t convert, it’s useless. Many people don’t understand or value conversion optimization but it can significantly improve your bounce and conversion rate. A simple way of improving your amount of callers, orders, e-mails, leads, subscribers (or whatever you are using to identify a conversion) is to clearly display what you want that visitor to act on. If they should fill out a form or give you a call, make sure that action item is above their face where they cannot miss it.

Here’s an example of a good call to action, and a bad call to action.

Text within Images:

Many webmasters put text within an image because they want a special font to display or they just don’t understand HTML. The search engines cannot read what is inside images, so just don’t do it. Save yourself from doing it twice by doing it right.

Here is an example of a website using text within images. The header, footer and welcome title are all in images.

JavaScript within Navigation:

When you use JavaScript to display your navigation, the drop-down pages and the links that go along with them, it can create a barrier for the search engines because they have a hard time reading it. JavaScript isn’t as cut and dry as HTML and because there are a million ways to produce the same product out of JavaScript, it can really confuse the search engines.

Here’s a site that uses JavaScript with their navigation. If you disable JavaScript in your browser, its functionality goes away.

Navigational Structure:

Keeping your websites navigational structure clean and simple can be somewhat of a challenge for some people. Use categories, use parent pages and don’t exclude key pages from the navigation. If you want a visitor to buy that product or see that service, include it in your menu.

Although I somewhat enjoy this site, it is an example of a website with a confusing navigational structure.

Use of Content:

Each page should have its own unique text and images at the very least. Having other elements like video can help you too. Make sure each page has at least 150 unique words and 1 picture with descriptive alt text. Use that pages keywords in the text and image alt tag but don’t overuse it. SEO is a delicate balance and using your keyword once per 100 words is always safe.

Here is an example of a website with no useful text and lists of keywords.

Using Splash/Doorway/Squeeze Page:

When somebody first comes to your website, they should see your homepage, not a trendy or fun page in between. When the use of a splash page is used, it creates an unnecessary barrier between you and your visitors. This will affect your bounce rate and conversion rate and unlikely for the better.

Here is an example of a website using a Splash page.

Become a Blogger:

Search engines like to serve fresh content and using a blog is a great way to keep your site growing and active. Continually having new content for the search engines to index keeps their bot coming back and can even help you rank for longer tail keywords.

Our SEO blog is a great example of an active blog that posts new content about the industry it’s in.

Pay Attention to Site Speed:

If your website takes too long to load the page, odds are your visitors are going to get impatient and leave. The search engines also don’t like waiting around so site speed should be something to be concerned about. Having too many HTTP requests, large amounts of JavaScript and CSS files and large images to load can all contribute to a slow site speed.

Hopefully these examples will help you in the future if you choose to build a new website. As with everything, there are exceptions to the rule. But for the most part, these recommendations will help your SEO efforts as well as visitors that come to your website.

Do you know of any others? Please comment and add to this list.


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17 Comments

  1. veightar says

    That is a good one. I love the part of the one page topic, url structure and the heading tags. They are quite important for keyword ranking.
    Good post

  2. Amit Verma says

    Very nice post Kevin. I hope, people will understand the
    importance of On-site SEO. And I appreciate that you included “Call to Action” which is one of the most important thing to get inquiries.

  3. Vlad Rascanu says

    Great article, not only useful for Search Engine Optimization, but also for User Friendliness. Using heading tags, having one topic per page, keeping an eye on the navigational structure, etc. will also make a website more user friendly; making it a win-win if you’re following SEO procedures.

  4. hyderalis says

    First up of all we should built the website for humans & not for search engines but above seo points are very helpful if you want those humans to convert into customers.

    I’d like to add Sitemap to your site so that search engine bot can read & index each & every page of your site which can be helpful for the users also who may not find those services or products for what they came to your site.

  5. says

    The value of this information is incredible. Not only does it explain how to do basic SEO, it explains the all-important why you do it. The iFrame code I had on my site is now gone just because of this blog post. Thanks for the information Kevin.

  6. Prince Zermic says

    I agree that flash based websites are still not search engine friendly and therefore should be avoided. Although efforts are being made to make flash content understandable for the search engines, having HTML content is still the best option. However, this does not mean that the use of flash is forbidden. It can be used but only when the situation calls for. E.g. for playing a movie like telling a story via animation. But the overall animation size should be small.

  7. Chris Quinn says

    This is a great resource. People don’t realize that SEO starts at the foundation. If you want to start with a strong foundation, refer back to this guide! Thanks guys.

  8. mike says

    Most people dont understand that there has to be a balance between on-site and off-site seo. Great article

  9. Dheeraj says

    Silverlight is the best alternative to Flash Because it also helps the crawlers to read the Text as Well. Therefore it is recommended to use in websites as Best SEO practices.
    and One more thing PHP developers can also use Silverlight. Moonlight is the version of Silverlight for PHP developers
    .

  10. John Lucifer says

    I think this posted article surely appreciated by me but this content only for search engine optimization. If anyone uses flash, surely benefits the site and increase the quality, better keyword selection and using a blog is a great way to promote your website for the betterment. Thanks a lot.

  11. says

    @hyderalis – I love when people start off by saying they should build websites for humans, not for search engines. It’s true but there needs to always be a dance between the two. I’d hate to have a website that has easy to access information and read well but never ranked because I improperly used description tags, title tags, H1 tags, etc.

  12. rajul jain says

    Thanks kevin,
    i am seo executive, and in my company also design and develop website.
    and your article is very useful for me.

  13. Dale Washburn says

    Hi Kevin

    I am happy to find your distinguished way of writing the post. The way you described the use of Flash moderation and than you mentioned about the use of content.

    Agreed with your part on becoming blogger.

    Thanks :)

  14. Hazel Guzzi says

    A good business needs a good promotion. The best way of promotion now a days is the SEO and the website. Yu need to have a good foundation to have a good business. The article is giving a very good info about how to make a good website that can end up being profitable :) Keep sharing such stuff :)

    GM Hazel

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