Search engine optimization, like any other marketing strategy (online or off) needs to be planned for. SEO can be quite an undertaking if you do it properly. It takes a lot of time, effort, and resources to execute a worthwhile campaign. If you are going to invest in SEO, the first step is to have a quality website. There’s really no sense in optimizing and building links to a website that isn’t going to convert. Before jumping into SEO, here’s a checklist of items that the website absolutely must have:
User friendly design and navigation
A website visitor must have a good experience when they land on your site. The design should be pleasing to the eye and modern. If it looks like it was designed 10 years ago, that reflects poorly on your business (which will also appear to be outdated). The website needs to be easy to navigate. There’s a reason that people can make a career out of being a user experience (UX) professional. Many website owners can be clueless when it comes to knowing how visitors will maneuver from one page to the next.
Strong internal linking structure
The search engine spiders not only crawl inbound links pointing to your site, they also crawl a website internally from page to page. If one page references something that is discussed more in depth on another page, link to it. This helps convey that your site is easy to navigate.
Call to actions
What do you want a website visitor to do once they land on your website? It’s up to you to tell website visitors what to do next. Lead them down a clear path to conversion. Don’t assume that a visitor will know what to do next, show them!
Lead forms and a good shopping cart experience
If the purpose of your business website is to generate leads, it’s important to have a lead or sign up form on every page of the site. The lead form shouldn’t be too complex. Visitors that are at the beginning stages of the buying process don’t want to hand over too much information up front. They also don’t have the time to fill out a complex form. Keep it simple. If you operate an e-commerce website, it’s important to provide a safe shopping environment by obtaining an SSL certificate. Make the check out process seamless and don’t give visitors the chance to second guess or get distracted, resulting in an abandoned shopping cart.
For SEO success, this is perhaps the most important element of your website. Without good content, there is nothing to keep the attention of website visitors. There’s also nothing to optimize! Every page of your website should include substantial, unique content. If pages are missing content or the content is very thin, work on that first before getting started with SEO. An SEO campaign is only as strong as the website that it is designed for.