This is a chicken and egg kind of question – should you consider SEO before or after your build a new site or redesign an old one? The rest of this post takes a quick look at the arguments for both and provides some general guidance if you are about to embark upon a website design (or redesign) project.
SEO before a site is created
Let me outline a typical phone call we receive here every day: “I have a website but I am not getting any traffic, can you help?”
Fortunately, we usually can help to some extent but we are often hindered by the way a site has been built. Some SEO thinking before a site has been built can ensure that
Benefits of SEO before a site build
- Keyword research provides insight into how users search and what content we may need on the site
- The site can be architected in a way that considers users and what goals they are trying to achieve
- Harmful fads like the current single page website trend can be avoided if that is going to cause problems for your keyword targeting (1)
- Transferring rankings from an old to new site can be difficult at the best of times and research and analysis is needed to ensure we improve any problem areas and carry over any rankings, inbound links etc from an existing site
- Best practice policies and webmaster guidelines can be considered at build time
- Other marketing requirements can be factored in such as landing pages for PPC and Social campaigns.
Ultimately, by considering how you will acquire traffic from organic search and other inbound sources may be an enlightening process. Certainly, you can ensure the SEO is built into the DNA of the site rather than layered over the top.
As a simple example – if you are a solicitor and you offer several services from several locations you will likely require a page for each service and location so your sitemap should consider this.
– – HR Law
– – Employment Law
– – Corporate Law
– About Us
– – Birmingham
– – London
– – Manchester
We also likely want the ability for the site to grow and a solid structure provides for that growth. Unfortunately, we often see sites that have not been built with this in mind and may have a single services page and no ability to easily grow. Considering SEO and how people search would have shined a light on these problems before a costly design and build process.
We see too many new sites that are simply not compatible with the marketing goals for search and that need to be completely overhauled. We also see far too many redesigns where the site loses a significant portion of the inbound traffic and visibility in organic search and the best recommendation is to roll back to the previous version and start again.
Certainly, SEO is a critical consideration before any new build or website redesign project.
SEO after a site is created
If a site is put together with no thinking for search engines or users of search engines then it is a given that you will need some SEO applied to this site. The only problem in this scenario is that often the site will be somewhat of a wooden leg and can only be optimised so far. Certainly, though, the site can be optimised to some extent. The specifics of that vary but
If the site has been built with consideration for search engine users then does it require further or ongoing SEO? This is a little harder to answer and will depend on what other marketing activities the business is engaging in and current positioning. As quick benchmark you can ask are you visible around the terms you would like to be found for? If not, then there is a good chance that you require ongoing SEO in some format.
Links, Locations and Authority
In most cases getting the technical optimisation and keyword targeting dialled in is just the beginning of the story and more work will be required to build the site’s authority. This can include the building of high authority links to drive traffic and improve visibility. It can include the auditing and creation of citations or business listings for local businesses. This will usually include considerations for the brand and how the business presents itself around the wider web.
Again, SEO is a critical part of the post-launch process to ensure you are taking advantage of opportunities in search and are visible to your potential customers.
SEO is a wraparound process
SEO is something of an umbrella term. A multi-headed beast that must be considered before you build or redesign a site and certainly as an ongoing process to enable you to stay competitive and take advantage of opportunities.
SEO should bookend your website projects providing intelligence and insights to feed into the design process along with support, traffic and popularity building after the site launches.
Before? After? Both are important.