Three SEO Basics to Keep in Mind for Your New Website

Your new business idea needs a website to show its face to the world. You’ve done your homework and already given domain names, hosting options, and design a bit of thought which is great. But what about search engine optimisation? If you want your good-looking website to hit the ground running, you’ll need to optimise it for search engines right from the start to get qualified leads and drive conversions.

While the depths of SEO can be a complicated world of its own, the idea behind it is based on two simple questions:

  • For what purpose will visitors come to your site?
  • How can you turn their journey into a great user experience?

Most businesses make an effort to use their targeted keywords across the site and implement a blog to guide their visitors, but effective SEO is about more than just your website’s unique copy.

You need to create the right framework for it: SEO friendly web design.

Build a solid URL-structure.

How to build a search engine optimised URL structure could be a blog post on its own, but we’ll stick with a few basics for today. Google, Bing, and Co have become really smart over the past years and can figure out technical challenges to a certain degree. However, it still helps to apply common sense when building your URL structure and naming your URLs: Make it easy for your users and the crawlers and use your keywords.

Try to use only one domain or subdomain. According to Moz’s Rand Fishkin, “a company blog is far more likely to perform well in the rankings and to help the rest of your site’s content perform well if it’s all together in one sub and root domain.”. Now, that doesn’t mean your site will fail if you can’t avoid using multiple subdomains, but it won’t help your SEO goals.

Use simple words and a clear, readable sentence structure. With accessibility being a make-or-break component of Google’s algorithm, this shouldn’t come as a surprise: The more readable your URL is to a human, the higher user engagement will be, and therefore the better it will be rated by a bot. Think of it like the way you’d organise your desktop folders: a folder named “Product Designs - Client XY” will be more helpful in your search for information than a folder labelled “2013=old$%21”.

Canonical tag to avoid duplicate content penalties. Canonical tags are a piece of code that comes in handy when you have more than one version of the same (or very similar) content on different pages. If you add a canonical tag to those pages, you let the crawlers know which version of that content to prioritise and avoid getting flagged for duplicate content. Problem solved.

Optimize your page speed.

It’s all about user experience. And one thing that will directly influence the experience your future visitors have on your site is the speed of it. According to research done by Gomez.com and Akamai.com, 47% of users expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less. So, it’s safe to say: when it comes to the load time of your website every millisecond matters. A slow loading site can mean the end for any user experience and, since UX is a big part of Google’s ranking algorithm, it will affect your conversions too.

You can check where your website’s at any time on free platforms like Google PageSpeed Insights. In an ideal scenario, whoever is building your site has already taken care of this, and your test results will be nothing but green lights and compliments to a job well done. If that’s not the case, Google’s insights will tell you exactly what to fix. Often that’s a matter of formatting and compressing images of multiple MBs that slow down your page, improving server response time or minimising the amounts of JavaScript files.

Use heading tags right.

The proper use of heading tags has been an ongoing discussion among SEOs. HTML5 allows for more than just one H1 per block element which seems like great opportunity to get more keywords on one page. Yet, the original purpose of heading tags is to help structure your content for the user and crawl bots.

Here’s how that works: The six heading elements, H1 through H6, mark your section headings in the order of importance. H1 being the main header/title, H2 denoting subheadings of your H1, and H3s marking subheadings of that H2, and so on. While you don’t have to use the full range of H1 - H6 on your page, one thing to be aware of is not to skip a level (from H1 to H3, for instance). It’s pretty straightforward:

<h1>SEO Website Basics<h1>

<p>Here is some intro copy</p>

<h2>URL Structure</h2>

<p>Here is some text</p>

<h2>Page Speed</h2>

<p>Here is more text</p>

You get the idea. And even though, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller tweeted in April that we may feel free to use as many H1s on one page as we wish, remember the two principles we talked about in the beginning: your page's purpose and a great user experience.

Using more than one H1 blurs the importance of your header tag hierarchy and makes it more difficult for search engines to prioritize your content. Stick with one H1 per page to set the focus for yourself, prioritize one keyword, make it accessible for your visitors, and ultimately signal to bots which content matters.

By building a search engine friendly website design, you’re paving the way to improved visibility for your business’ online presence, plus you’re creating a solid framework for the content you’ll be adding. And while, of course, you aim to optimise that content for search engines as well, always keep in mind that above all you are writing to engage people.

About the Author

Lisa Kupfer

Lisa is a Content Marketer at Soshal with a knack for SEO and a love for all things brand-related. Acceptable vices include foosball, coffee, and a very regular dose of soft serve.