SEO before Design
In an ideal world each and every company would consider to do Search Engine Optimisation before they start building a website.
Having a website built involves deciding on the structure of your site; You need to decide which pages should be in your top level navigation, which pages in your section-pages (next level down) and which in your category pages (next level down) and what should be in your content pages (next level after that. You’ll also be likely to buy a domain name.
But consider this…
- How do you know how your customers are most likely to search for your company or your services/product online?
- How will people who have never heard of your company name find you?
- What keywords are your competitors using and
- What combination of keywords provides you with new online opportunities?
Keyword research and is by far the most important component of SEO.
Let’s look at this in a simplistic but practical example:Charlie is opening up an online golf store. For simplicity’s sake he will only sell products of the major brand ‘ABC’. He will structure his site according to the different products he thinks he should sell. So he decides his content silos are; (golf) shoes, bags, balls and clubs.
We managed to convince Charlie to do some keyword research before he goes ahead with the design of his website. After some keyword analysis Charlie found that the words ‘ABC clubs’ were too competitive but ‘ABC equipment’ still provided him with plenty of searchers per month to entice to his store. Charlie will use this information to work on top rankings for ABC equipment, as top rankings for ABC clubs is out of his league for now. He can now work on his page content as he now knows which words to use.
He also finds that there are a lot of searches done for golf books. When he finds the competition is fairly low, he decides to add books to his product offerings. (He adds another content silo)
He also found that ‘ABC carry bags’ and ‘ABC golf bags’ get very different search results. He realises that behind every set of search terms is a different buyer so he decides on a different structure for his website. He will need separate pages for different types of golf bags. (he needs an additional level in his navigation) This way, the customer searching for a carry bag can instantly be guided to the page with carry bags and she does not have to sift through different types of bags once she landed on Charlie’s website.
This is a simple example to clarify why doing keyword research BEFORE you have your website built could really benefit you.
The decision to do keyword research has helped clarify three things for Charlie;
1) He knows which words are too competitive and he can write his content with the words he knows he has a chance to reach top 3 rankings for.
2) He learned that there was room for an additional product. The amount of searches done for golf books, and the lack of competition for these keywords, have opened his eyes for opportunity. He will quite easily be able to ‘win’ a lot of the traffic for golf books. (Don’t build a website selling golf books, this is just an example)
3) He also learned that 1 level navigation was not enough and that he needs a 2nd level. The next level down will specify different types of bags/shoes etc.
He can now tell his designers how many branches and levels he needs in his website because his keyword research informed him about different buyers he can now service with their own pages. He has saved himself the time and money to have to make changes to his site AFTER the launch.
So, consider SEO before you build your website. The keywords will help you determine your final structure and the number of navigational levels your site needs.