Before SEO existed, having a great website was like having a really slick business card or brochure for your business: it was there to impress other people. When SEO came along, it didn’t matter if a website was well designed and user-friendly. If it had good content and a few strong links, it could rank at number one. Those days are long gone.
In today’s world of hyper-competitive online marketing, it’s crucial for your business to align its web development and SEO efforts. Web development and SEO are two sides of the same coin, and ideally they should support each other equally in order to help execute your business’s online marketing strategy.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at the key factors and components of web design and SEO individually, and then discuss how, together, they combine to be more than the sum of their parts.
Key Factors For A Successful Website
It should go without saying your company’s website should be easy for visitors to navigate. Finding information about your business’s products and services should not be complicated or ambiguous.
After that, there are three key factors that both users and search engines look at when deciding how to evaluate your website:
- Site speed
- Mobile compatibility
- Content Quality
Getting these three things right gives your website a much better chance of success.
The speed (in seconds) it takes your website to load from the time a visitor clicks on a search result has become one of the most important factors for both users and search engines.
Think about how many times you personally have gotten frustrated with a slow-loading website and simply given up and gone somewhere else. Search engines takes note of sites like that and, in some cases, will penalize them with lower search rankings.
Fast page load times are equally important on mobile devices. Mobile connection speeds tend to be slower, and user attention spans shorter. This means it’s crucial your business’s site loads fast on smartphones.
Mobile compatibility refers to the ability of your website to automatically reconfigure its content to fit the width of the device it’s being displayed on. In the web design world, this is called ‘responsive design’. It’s absolutely critical for your website to function well on both desktop and mobile devices.
The true benefit of responsive design is that you only have to build one version of your company’s website, rather than separate versions for mobile and desktop.
The quality of the content on your website is the most important factor for both web development and SEO.
Unlike site speed and mobile compatibility, which are primarily technical tasks, puting high quality content on your website falls more on the subjective and creative sides of your site’s development.
Ultimately, quality content is defined as whatever engages your audience and persuades them to take additional action. That action may be a phone call, form submission, download, or something else of value to your business.
Core Components Of SEO
SEO stands for search engine optimization. The whole point of optimizing your site is to increase your site’s visibility (search rank) and traffic. It’s important to understand that SEO is not any one thing in particular, but a way of doing things that increase a website’s likelihood of being found and ranked by search engines.
Properly optimizing a web page (which includes blog posts) for search engines is often a bigger challenge than many people realize. While there are the rare exceptions to every rule, good SEO generally requires, at minimum, optimizing the following components:
- Page Titles
- Primary/Featured Images
- Heading & Subheadings
- Body Text
- Meta Descriptions
Each of these components needs to be related to, and properly keyworded for, the particular subject matter of the page they’re on.
If your business doesn’t have an in-house SEO expert who understands how all of these various pieces are put together, it’s probably worth exploring the idea of working with an outside SEO expert to gain some insight.
The other half of the SEO puzzle is the actual content itself, which we touched on earlier regarding content quality. The more valuable your content is to your audience, the more likely it is to rank well in search.
How Web Development And SEO Work Together
Before we talk about how web development and SEO work together, let’s look at what happens if only one piece of the puzzle is in place first.
Good Website, Bad SEO: This is actually the problem most businesses face when they get into online marketing. They’ve spent a ton of money on an amazing website, they launch it, and … nothing happens.
Having an amazing website and bad SEO is like having a great restaurant on a deserted island. No one knows about it. Sure, people who already know about your company may appreciate it when they visit, but it will be almost invisible to anyone searching for things related to your products and services.
Good SEO, Bad Website: This is a problem usually faced by companies that have been around a long time, have amazing content, but haven’t bothered to update their website in many years.
In some ways, having good SEO and a bad website is the worse of these two scenarios. From a user perspective, visiting a website that is slow to load, hard to navigate, and looks outdated and unprofessional may actually harm your brand.
From the standpoint of search engines, they will eventually begin to rank your website lower and lower in search results in favor of other sites that offer the same quality of content, but with a better user experience.
Good Web Development And SEO
So, finally, when good web development and SEO come together, it gives your business the best chance of achieving your goals of driving traffic and converting new customers.
When both visitors and search engines see a website that is fast, mobile responsive, and has excellent content that is correctly optimized, it’s far more likely to generate real results.
As more people visit and spend more time engaged with your site, it reinforces your site’s status as an authority on the topics your content covers. This, in turn, increases your site’s likelihood of ranking well, which will drive more traffic and so forth and so on.
The reason good web development and seo become more than the some of their parts is that, when correctly aligned, they form a positive feedback loop for both visitors and search engines. Over time, this will generate a steady stream of new leads, prospects, and opportunities for your business.
Once you’ve got these pieces in place, the most important thing to remember is to continue to produce great content, and constantly look for ways to improve the experience for your site’s visitors and engage with them at every opportunity.