Many small businesses can’t afford to keep up with the marketing trends of today’s era. Digital advertising in Australia is growing by over 9.1% annually, which is creating a highly competitive and expensive marketing field.
What if we told you that you didn’t have to spend all of that money on advertising and that you could develop a long-term, sustainable marketing strategy using just your website? Well, with the right web design and SEO, that’s possible. Let’s talk about how to grow your business with SEO today!
How Search Engines Work
Don’t worry, we aren’t going to get too technical. However, before we discuss the importance of web design for your SEO strategy, let’s discuss a little about how search engines work and the services they offer their users. We’ve all used Google before, and we may be astonished by how well the service matches content based on our searches. This is no coincidence.
Google uses an algorithm to match this content based on the keywords in our search, as well as the search intent they gather based on a few other factors. For example, if you search “pizza shop” while in Sydney, you wouldn’t expect Google to recommend pizza shops in Brisbane. This is because it’s using your location as a search factor, as it understood that your search intent was to find pizza shops near you, even though you didn’t add “near me”.
There are a few other factors at play, such as previous search history, but that’s how Google measures search intent. However, to match you with the right content, there are over 200 other ranking factors, most of which have to do with the websites themselves.
Google uses “crawlers” to crawl through and index entire websites, crawling through billions of pages every day. The algorithm then determines how relevant, credible, and overall optimised this website is for specific keywords with certain search intent. From there, it ranks all of these web pages in order of optimisation, which websites will then have to compete to get ahead of each other.
From Google’s perspective, it would reflect poorly on their service if they were routinely promoting low-quality websites that were slow, didn’t work on users’ devices, or had no relevant content. Let’s talk about that.
The Connection Between Web Design and SEO
Since Google uses so many ranking factors largely dependent on your website, it needs to be optimized for search engines. To make it easier, think of building a content marketing strategy like building a house. Your website needs to act as a strong foundation that you can build upon, otherwise, you won’t get very far.
We’re not going to tell you to run down the list of every ranking factor, and don’t worry, you don’t even need to worry about all of them. However, there are some factors that could make or break your strategy, including:
- Page loading times
- Mobile optimization
- Clean navigation system
- Clear XML sitemap
- Navigable linking structure
- Clear page structure
- Proper keyword usage
There are plenty of other ranking factors to worry about down the line, but this will help you build a solid foundation. Without these, your content marketing strategy will be severely limited in scale, as Google will not rank you ahead of optimized sites.
For a long-term SEO strategy, there is no substitute for professional web design followed by quality content. Users need to be engaged and be able to easily navigate through your site. If they can’t then your SEO strategy is doomed before it begins.
How to Optimise Your Website for Search Engines
Fortunately, there are plenty of options to improve your website and get the most out of your SEO strategy. Here are some helpful web design tips to get started!
Develop a “Mobile-First” Strategy
It should come as no surprise that the majority of web traffic comes from mobile devices. By 2025, there will be over 21.5 million smartphone users in Australia, which means that optimising for their devices should be your first priority. Well, Google also knows this, and they’re placing a large emphasis on the mobile-friendliness of websites.
For this reason, many businesses are adopting the “mobile-first” strategy, where they design their websites specifically for mobile devices instead of as an afterthought. Some CMS services have come a long way in adapting to different devices, but nothing works better than a website designed specifically for mobile screens.
Boost Page Speeds
Most users won’t wait longer than a couple of seconds for a page to load before exiting. For that reason, it’s important to boost the loading times of your website with some front-end and back-end development. Your server and your heavy files need to be optimized for devices with all processing speeds.
When Google’s crawlers index your site, they are keeping track of how long it takes for your pages to load. Even half of a second is too long, so do what you can to boost these page speeds.
Clean up your website by getting rid of broken links, 404 errors, or outdated content. If you use an analytics tool, they may tell you when these errors appear, so don’t leave them there when you find them, as this can cause a lot of damage to your SEO prospects.
Use the Right Keywords
There are two pillars of keyword research; using keyword research tools and competitor research. It’s critical that you use a diverse keyword strategy for the best results, including both long-tail and short-tail keywords.
Short-tail keywords are the obvious ones you want to rank for within your industry, as they have the highest search volume. Think “used car”, “pizza shop”, or “pub”. However, they also come with the most competition, so these are for long-term planning!
Long-tail keywords have less search volume but significantly less competition. Using as wide of a variety as possible will help you optimize your reach for various searches, so don’t neglect them. You could be missing out on a lot of easy ones to rank for, which means you’re missing out on easy traffic!
Search for related keywords on your favourite keyword research tool and compare them in Google Trends to measure relative search volume. Ideally, you want to find the ones with the highest search volume to competition ratio you can find, but remember to include as many as you can.
Next, take a look at your competitors’ content marketing strategies and add the URLs to a keyword research tool of your choice. This will offer plenty of keywords you may be missing in your strategy, and help you generate plenty of content ideas. If you take these ideas and create similar but better content, you’ll get ahead in no time!
Once you have these keywords, use them throughout your website as often as possible, but only when they can be used organically. If they seem out of place, it’s better to not use them. “Keyword stuffing” can seriously harm your SEO prospects.
Lay Out an XML Sitemap and URL Structure
A lot of people shutter when they hear terms like “XML”, but don’t worry. It isn’t as scary as it sounds. XML is a markup language like HTML (hypertext markup language) but without predefined tags.
If you check out the tags in this page’s code, you’ll see plenty of predefined tags like “<p>” for this paragraph, but you’ll also see tags that were specifically defined for our website to make it easy to navigate. The permalink at the top of your browser is a good example of this.
“Blog” isn’t a predefined tag like many others, but it makes it much easier to sort and navigate through our website. A strong XML sitemap will have a clearly defined hierarchy starting with your homepage and moving downward.
For URL structure, you can add different categories to your permalinks for easy indexing and sorting. “Blog”, “products”, “collections”, “news”, and “resources” are common examples, but you can make them more relevant to your website.
Don’t worry. Google will easily be able to index this and understand these tags, but only if every page exists within the sitemap. Isolated pages may never be indexed or could be flagged by Google’s crawlers, so always add new pages to the existing sitemap.
Optimize Before Posting
Whenever you launch a new blog post or page, remember to optimize everything. This includes meta descriptions, alt tags, and more.
While it isn’t always used by Google, you should still write a meta description that’s under 160 characters to optimize for mobile devices. Always include the target keyword in these descriptions and try to entice the reader, as it may appear as a snippet on the SERPs.
Google’s algorithm isn’t the best at analyzing pictures, so it relies heavily on context. Always add an alternate description on images before publishing, and try to describe the image as thoroughly and accurately as possible. “Woman smiling and holding a coffee mug” is a decent example.
Finally, just double-check that the permalink matches your XML sitemap and consider leaving a breadcrumb trail or table of contents if you choose to. From there, add other tags and useful information as you see fit!
Track Your Website’s Key Metrics
SEO is very different from a PPC ad campaign. Once you’re at the top, it’s a lot easier to stay there, and you can generate an unlimited amount of traffic with little need for maintenance or additional expenses. However, this is only possible if your website gets there and stays there.
To ensure this, it’s critical to view your website as a constant work-in-progress. By monitoring your website’s performance, you can easily make adjustments and improvements when necessary.
For example, if you’re using Google Analytics (or your favourite analytics tool) and discover that your bounce rate is fairly high, this could indicate that you have a page error or that your page isn’t loading very quickly. Either way, you’ll know exactly what needs fixing and be able to improve upon it promptly.
Also, the same way that you track your own website, feel free to track your competitors’ sites! If you don’t understand the standards of the industry, then you’re trying to win a race in the dark.
Hire Professional Help
If you want everything on this list done and more without having to think about it, then hiring outside help could make a massive difference. With the right professional SEO services, you can get help with proper website design, content management, and so much more. Professional website design services can take any SEO strategy to the next level, as DIY websites just don’t cut it anymore.
Once you find the right services that meet your budget and needs, you’ll be amazed at the improvement of your search engine rankings. Of course, SEO takes time to develop, but with professional help, you’ll eliminate the “guessing game” while you wait for it to come to fruition.
Build the Foundation Today
Now that you know the integral role your website plays in your SEO strategy, find the right web design and SEO company for your needs today. People are used to spending time on sites like Facebook, so an outdated or DIY website stands out like a sore thumb and doesn’t have a chance of ranking with industry giants.
For more information, keep reading our blog for our latest digital marketing tips and feel free to contact us with any questions or for help with your strategy!