Implementing SEO in Web Development Process
Our 4 step process to build your online business relies heavily on cross-department cooperation. We have talked about how web design and SEO can work in sync and in this article we will outline how SEO can be implemented in the web development process.
Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, has been around for a while, and a lot of companies are starting to realise how important it is to include SEO in the Web Design & Development process. We live in a world where everything is going digital, and the competition for those coveted Top 3 Google Search Positions will only get fiercer. It does make sense to have your brand-new website set up for success from the start, wouldn’t you agree?
When should SEO get included?
Helping with Site Structures
I personally like to get involved as early as possible, preferably at the project initiation stage, to get an idea of the scope and objectives of the website. But if that isn’t possible, the latest moment an SEO team should join the conversation, is during the Site Structure (or site architecture) development. Not only does a good site structure make it easy for your users to navigate the site, but it also helps Google crawl the site’s content and understand what your site is about (Yoast SEO’s take on Site Structures). Additionally, it helps with internal linking, ensuring you don’t have any orphaned pages or unnecessarily duplicate content. Unfortunately, this is very often overlooked, and the result is a messy website, which is difficult to navigate for both the user and the web dev team. In our digital marketing agency, site structure development is a major milestone in each project, and we do not move to the next stage until both our SEO team and web development team had their say.
All about URLs
The next step where the SEO should come into play is URL taxonomies and page URL slugs. If you have done the site structure correctly, the taxonomies are basically taken care of. The web dev team only has to follow the site structure and correctly parent the pages. Nevertheless, it is good to review the taxonomies to make sure the site hierarchy makes sense.
Since the URL slugs are a ranking factor, albeit a minor one, you should build them carefully, preferably based on keyword research (SEMrush guide to URL slugs) Yes, you can change the URL slugs later using 301 redirects, but I personally try to avoid 301s unless necessary (like a site redesign or domain move) and having the correct slugs right off the bat is a good practice.
A little personal tip I learned the hard way: If you are re-designing your site and creating 301s for new slugs, make sure to check there are no existing 301s already. You could create 301 redirect chains. Google hates those and you will hate them too when you need to fix them!
Content review & On Page SEO
The next stage SEO & web dev should work together is adding content to the pages & on page SEO.
Content is still the King
Firstly, at this stage of the build, all content should be ready and reviewed by SEO team for the web developers, which helps to avoid any unnecessary delays to the project. When reviewing content from an SEO perspective, I focus on 4 main factors:
- Keyword density – the keyword, it’s synonyms and other relatable keywords should be sprinkled throughout the copy (don’t overdo it though, over optimisation is a thing)
- Internal & external links – look at the copy and find natural opportunities for internal links to help with navigationg and crawling & external links to websites of your partners, suppliers or any interesting information. (don’t force it though, the copy should be easy to read for the users)
- CTAs (call to action) – this is where the design and SEO team should work together and find good solutions for desired conversions
- Looking for content which could be served in a different format, such as bullet lists, schema how tos, etc.
I can’t count how many times I’ve come across a well-designed website, with the dreaded “Home – Site Name” as the Meta Title, multiple or nonsense h1 headings on each page, without meta descriptions or no alt attributes on images. These are such easy fixes, which make a huge difference between a well performing, converting site and well, not a good one!
Similarly to the URLs, having the on-page SEO done correctly from the start will save you a lot of time down the line.
Testing Phase and Conversions
I strongly believe an SEO professional should be part of the testing project stage. SEO is a holistic discipline, and it is not only about bringing traffic to your website, but also about converting this traffic into measurable conversions. And there are lot of factors which need to be taken into consideration, such as site speed, correct and well-placed call to actions, effective user navigation, and for e-commerce sites, a smooth payment process.
SEO is very often overlooked, in both new website builds and re-designs, but it is non-negotiable if you want your brand-new site ranking high on Google Search and reap the rewards. Yes, SEO takes time, and it is a slower process, compared for example to PPC, but having a strong online presence and positioning your business on page 1 of Google Search for the right keywords can yield phenomenal results.
Jaroslav "Jerry" Chalupnik
Senior Digital Marketing Exec