Here’s what you need to know about SEO before you start building your website:
I love that you’re thinking ahead to seo and having your site come up in Google searches, really. But let’s also keep in mind that you have to have an actual website that is live on the actual internet in order for anything to show up anywhere. So yes, there are things you can do as you go to make sure you’re building an seo-friendly website. But also, none of this absolutely has to be done from the beginning.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed just trying to get your site up and running (normal), do yourself a favor and just skip this one. Go ahead and follow these steps to get your DIY website up and running first. Come back and visit after you’ve gotten your site online. We’ll still be here, promise.
But, if you have the bandwidth to understand a little bit about seo before getting started, it can help save you time down the road, for sure. You can tackle some of these tasks as you go and then you won’t have to come back and do them later. But whatever works better for you is fine!! I’m just writing this in case you asked.
Understanding seo and building a website:
The key thing to understand about seo is that it’s a PROCESS. It’s not a thing you do one day and then check it off your list forever. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to explain to a potential client that I can’t give them an estimate for how many hours ‘seo takes.’ It takes forever. You have to continually work on it and keep adding and optimizing your website. The internets and the Googles are constantly changing, so even those sites that are at the top of the search are constantly working to stay there.
But don’t let that scare you off, really. There are lots of little, manageable things you can do and small changes that you can make to help your site get more traffic. You don’t have to show up #1 for all the top keywords to get enough traffic to your site. I know, I have built and managed a bunch of them over my career, including two of my own online businesses.
Here are some things you can do before or while you are building your website to make your site more SEO-friendly:
>name your images. Google can’t actually read the pictures (yet), so they go by the name of the image instead. If yours are all named ‘screenshot 12093420,’ that’s not helping.
>Give your images alt text. This is important for screen readers and accessibility, so of course it’s important for seo, as well. Adding in alternative text helps Google know what the image is about, so it knows when to pull it up for a search.
>while you’re at it, make your images smaller. The speed at which your site loads is important to Google. If your site has larger images, it will load more slowly, therefore affecting your ranking. Use the smallest file size possible that still shows up clearly.
>install the free yoast seo plug in. You don’t need premium for now, and you can always upgrade later if you want. Yoast is super helpful for getting the basics down. The plugin will help you make sure that all of your posts are readable and optimized for seo. If you want to go down a deep rabbit hole, check out their blog. I’m always learning new things about seo from Yoast!
>Name your pages & their links wisely. You might think that’s not important, but page titles and URLs (the page links) are weighted very heavily in
>understand how headings work. In HTML code (I know, just stay with me), there are paragraphs and then there are headings. The headings go from Heading 1 (the biggest and most important) to Heading 6 (the smallest and least important). So Google reads the heading tags and knows how to rank the information based on which heading it is. For more on how headings work, check out this article.
>set the slug & meta data. This is where you need the free Yoast plug in. Scroll down below your
>if you’re blogging, make sure to set a relevant featured image. If you’re not sure what that is, check out this article on featured images and why you need them.
>be aware that any text that’s inside an image won’t be read by search engines. So, if you make a graphic in Canva and it has a bunch of text with your keywords, that’s great, but it doesn’t count for seo. You have to add that to the image title or to the alt text.
>make sure everything is mobile responsive. The Google does not like pages that don’t fit properly on tablets or phones. Making sure your site is mobile responsive is not only important for your customers, but also important for SEO.
>make sure you have good hosting. Site speed affects your seo ranking, so use a good hosting provider. I use and recommend Site Ground.
>don’t be sneaky. Search engines want people to find what they are looking for. If you’re out here tricking people, the people aren’t going to be happy, and they’ll leave your site quickly. And the Googles will know what you did and penalize you for it.
Continue adding content as you grow.
All of these little details are important for seo and building a website, for sure. But one of the best things you can do to help your site show up in the rankings is to grow your content. The more content you have on your site, the more opportunities you have to show up in a search. Keep writing blog posts, keep adding information and content, and keep growing your site, and eventually, people will start to find you.
All of the ideas on this page are just things you can do while you’re getting started to help out with seo. But building an seo-friendly website is a long term project, and you’ll need to keep adding and optimizing as you go in order to keep building traffic.