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SEO - it's always changing, and everyone is always talking about it. How do you land more backlinks? Long tail or short tail keywords? How do you optimize this or that?

There’s so much SEO advice out there that it can be difficult to know what you actually NEED to know in the first place. To drown out the noise and zero in on what matters, we decided to turn to the SEO experts to see what they think. So, we asked them:

"What are the key steps for building a website that search engines will love?"

The MarTechExec takeaway

Search engines love a website that follows SEO best practices, features quality content, uses a solid platform, and loads in a hurry. In short - your website needs to be checking numerous boxes to get some love.

Lana Moore, Founder MarTechExec
Lana K. Moore is one of the fastest trending top martech influencers in the industry. As a marketing technology executive for both Fortune 500 companies and startups, she is passionate about helping marketing technology professionals stay on top of their game. Lana is the executive editor of martechexec.com - a place to learn, share and discuss marketing technology topics and solutions.

The expert takeaways

  • It's all about quality. The good stuff.
  • Two words. Or is it one? WordPress.
  • Focus on those keywords. REALLY focus.
  • Keep focusing. Find a niche. Focus your focus.
  • Great design and site structure is everything.
  • Gotta have SPEED!
  • Be unique. Totally original. Stay true to your brand.
  • Dress to impress Google.
  • Plan ahead. Don't get stuck in the past.
  • Embrace new tech. Use the newest tools. BE technology. (Too far?)
  • You know what? Just use a bit of everything.

The experts

It's all about quality. The good stuff.

“Although it may seem counter-intuitive for some people, when you build a website that search engines will love you do not have to initially think about search engines. You need to think about your intended readers. If you want to write an article about puppy training (recently rescued a dog), you do not start with the keywords and what products you would promote.

You start by writing the best possible article about puppy training you can, with videos, images, expert advice and all that you can find in order to make that content as impressive for the intended reader as possible. The process is similar at a wider scale when you build a website. It is sort of like reverse engineering. You start with creating the product for the intended audience (in this case the site itself) and then you focus on the backbone (all the back SEO work you do on a site).”

Adrian Cruce, Freelance SEO Specialist
Working online from 2003, firstly as a Freelancer for the old Rent A Coder Platform. Marketer, SEO consultant, chief editor, tech geek, writer, I do a little bit of everything! Freelance SEO specialist, great music lover and marketing manager for EatTheGlobe.

"Step 1: Find out what makes the website owner and his/her product unique.

Step 2: Make sure you know the desired action per page (download, contact, buy, visit).

Step 3: Find the right keywords and define the pages, posts and menu.

Step 4: Write irresistible and optimized texts for the website. Keeping the search engines and human visitors happy and interested.

Step 5: Build a website in Wordpress and use the Yoast plugin.

Step 6: Keep the site updated and fast. Prevent penalties for outdated or slow sites.

Step 7: Keep writing good content, blogs and relevant articles that draws people to the website."

Willeke van den Heuvel, Entrepreneur, project manager, online marketing and SEO specialist
Entrepreneur, project manager, online marketing and SEO specialist since 2004. With ‘My Toolbox’ (Mijn Gereedschapskist in Dutch) she helps companies with clear advice and more visibility.

“Build great content for the users.”

Randy Downs, Owner of Downs Consulting Services
Application Developer, Database Administrator, Information Technology, Systems Administrator, Network Analyst, Web Designer, Senior Field Service Engineer. Focus on getting the job done whether it's hardware, software or mechanical.

“First of all, we shall set up the following axiom: that it’s impossible to know exactly what search engines love and do not love. For they are engines.

When we seriously analyze all their algorithms, one must consider that they are not really coherent, all together. There are tons of algorithms.

And there are roughly 250 main SEO rules that every digital marketer shall master.

So, my first recommendation would be to a) know the main 250 SEO rules b) be very critical towards all these criteria c) implement an impactful SEO strategy which fits your business model.

My second recommendation would be following: do not write for Google. Write for human beings. And create an extraordinary content. Context is also king: if the content you create is interesting but has nothing to do with a relevant context, your work will be irrelevant.

It’s logical. If the context fits and if people love your content, search engines will automatically follow the trend. Because it’s in their interest.

So, my third recommendation would be to perfectly understand that the main objective of search engines is to make money and gain market shares – on the search market.

If people find the content they love on the first page of Bing but not on the first page of Google, they will switch to Bing. If that happens, Google may lose a lot of money, right?

Google knows that perfectly. So, create a website that people will love. And Google will eventually be obliged to love your website.”

Jerome Perrin, Founder of Jay-Webmarketing.com
Jerome Perrin is the founder of Jay-Webmarketing.com. He helps CEOs, business owners, and decision makers to grow their business with cutting-edge digital marketing strategies. Helping professionals grow their business thanks to digital, technology and web marketing.

Two words. Or is it one? WordPress.

“Using a CMS like WordPress is, in my opinion, a no-brainer. Why? Because WordPress optimizes great for mobile search, a very important ranking factor, and it takes care of a lot of other technical issues, like site speed.

Also, start off with a solid plan: Determine the main site structure / architecture. What posts are you planning and in what categories or tags will you place them? The structure has to be clear for your readers as well as for search engines.

Make sure you don't overlap on keywords, so search engines won't get confused over what post/page/tag/category to rank a keyword for. Also, use a mixture of well written text, images, video and other media. Make your site a nice user experience for users, then Google is automatically gonna love it too.”

Jasper Verelst, Owner of SEO-bureau Jasseo.bet
SEO-copywriter from Belgium with an online SEO-bureau, Jasseo.be. His focus is on the Dutch speaking market (Belgium and The Netherlands). Doing SEO copywriting for small and large customers in various sectors. Wrote an experienced SEO copywriter commercial and effective Google text for more than 100 startups and SMEs.

“Host with a solid company. Set up the blog on WordPress. Set up basic design at first and have some way to collect emails. Start identifying low comp., long tail keywords that are relevant and buyer intent.

Start creating content around those topics - your content should be by far the best piece of content on the web about that topic. If not, make it better.

Then, start building your following on social media and share to your audience and get influencers to share your content as well.”

Rafi Chowdhury, Founder of Chowdhury’s Digital and co-founder of myCampusHacks
Rafi Chowdhury is the founder of Chowdhury’s Digital and co-founder of myCampusHacks. He helps companies like Vapetek, Shapes Brow Bar, Win Hyundai, Wound Care Surgeons, and Easley Transportation grow their revenue. He was recognized by the University of Memphis for creating one of the most innovative start-up websites for the students.

Focus on those keywords. REALLY focus.

“What search engines love and what people love are often intertwined. Now there are obviously technologies that might not play nice... but by and large if you follow the principles of providing a great user experience, guided user journeys and keeping it simple... Google will be in good shape.

One of the more common things that SEOs get wrong is plowing their keywords onto every page title. Say your website is about credit cards, you've got a key place for purchasing these, and comparing them. These are your key areas to hit credit card.

Now you've obviously got loads of supporting content around them, (or you should!), you should be ensuring that you aren't mixing signals or muddying the water and introducing content that'll cannibalize against your best terms!

Using the same credit cards example, if you've got a page on APR, what it means etc... obviously this is a key part of credit cards - but it’s not commercially sensitive, it’s not typically a step in a conversion journey... it’s a research touchpoint (which are super valuable, don't get me wrong), but it shouldn't be negatively impacting your big money page/term for credit cards. Don't make your site compete against itself!”

Sam Harries, Freelance SEO Consultant
Freelance SEO Consultant with a decade's experience. Senior SEO Consultant with many years of experience working for various levels of company from Small Businesses all the way to global Enterprise level advising over multiple country regions from a high strategic level.

“I think that when it comes to SEO, there are two major tenets that involve building a website that search engines will love. The first has to do with technical considerations.

For a search engine to want to recommend a website, it has to be mobile-friendly and load fast. Of course, there are many other pieces that go into ranking, but these two things are at the very top of the list.

The second revolves around use of keywords, or at any rate, filling a niche. Keywords help to define this niche, and used correctly, can then make it easier for people to find and link to you.

Of course, this is oversimplifying things, but it will certainly steer you in the right direction as far as where your SEO efforts should be focused when building a search engine friendly website!”

Maddy Osman, Content Creator
Maddy Osman creates engaging content with SEO best practices for marketing thought leaders and agencies that have their hands full with clients and projects. My favorite positions have always included multiple elements of Marketing, especially of a digital nature. I consider myself a lifelong learner by reading, networking, seeking mentors, taking classes and jumping in and trying new things.

“1. Don't have duplicate content. Google may not know which one to rank and may not pick the version you prefer. Fear over penalties are overblown.

2. Create content 2,000+ words. I recently read an article that says 3,000+ words

3. Put the word Update in the headline and genuinely update the information. Remove broken links and add new information you found since originally writing.

4. Do your research! This means finding keywords with high search volume and low competition for readers. Tools exist to help you find these.

5. Use long tail keywords as your focus keywords and in your tags. Search engine users are apt to type multi-word questions and phrases into search engines. Tagging your posts this way will increase the visibility of users finding you.

6. Try to build links to your site. The more links you build, the more quality Google will believe you have.

7. Link out to other websites. Search engines will rank you higher. By linking out, you show Google you are a credible site that cares about providing readers quality.”

Janice Wald, Author
The author of AN INSIDER’S GUIDE TO BUILDING A SUCCESSFUL BLOG, available on Amazon.com. Also found on Goodreads. Writing about blogging in order to help bloggers by giving step-by-step directions for content creation.

“Search Engines love niche websites, so be super specific (and strict) around the topic when it comes to building your new site, this will also pay dividends when it comes to building a loyal audience, as all your content will be of interest to them.

Once you've got your niche nailed, you'll want to research what people look for within that niche. Use keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner and or Uber Suggest with Keywords Everywhere to plan out your website's structure and put together a solid plan for your pages and blog. Search Engines use keywords to help them understand what your content is all about.

You'll want to follow SEO best practice on your new site. Many website builders and CMS's aren't configured optimally out of the box. So, consider CMS's like WordPress. Install an SEO plugin like Yoast which will tick a bunch of the technical SEO boxes automagically, making your website more Search Engine friendly and leaving you to concentrate on building and running your website.”

Isaac Bullen, Asia Pacific Director of 3WhiteHats
Isaac is Asia Pacific Director at online marketing company 3WhiteHats, he's a keen cyclist and globe trotter who is currently living in Wellington, NZ. 3WhiteHats is an international digital marketing agency with offices in the UK and NZ. We help businesses grow through personalised consultancy and digital marketing services such as SEO, which increase visibility in search engines, social media and other websites.

Find a niche. Focus your focus.

"1. Understand your customer base.

2. Focus on publishing researched backed content."

Dev Sharma, Founder of WPKube
Devesh Sharma is the founder of wpkube.com and started his business at 15 years of age. WP Kube is a blog related to WordPress with the focus on Themes, Plugins, Tutorials and latest WordPress news.

“In my opinion the magic word is ‘focus’. I see a lot of companies publishing content on too many different topics. That makes it difficult for Google to understand where exactly your expertise lies.

If you instead focus on single topics (per website) or gradually expand concentrating on topic clusters (through content categories for examples) you will not only help search engines recognize your expertise but also sharpen your brand position.

This way you'll also be able to produce more in depth and rich media content (than your competitors) and thus increase your chances of higher rankings. In any case I think it's a good idea to not only focus on search engines but always optimize for user experience, too.”

Robert Weller, Freelance coach for content, marketing & design
Robert Weller is a freelance coach for content, marketing & design. He has published several books, writes regularly for companies such as HubSpot, Salesforce or Hootsuite and speaks at major German content marketing conferences.

“1. Create a semantic map of your market niche to separate out ideas for content and site sections.

2. Create a rough sitemap or IA tree where you can overlay your keyword and semantic idea map.

3. Write out all the URLs and create the IA.

4. Create all the content for your core pages and separate out the peripheral nodes from your semantic map into blog posts for later.

5. Design an internal linking strategy to connect pages where appropriate and communicate which pages should be most relevant for what search intents.

6. Build content and links!”

Harris Schachter, Director of Marketing at Home Care Delivered, owner of OptimizePrime, LLC
I'm a results-driven digital marketer with a proven track record for companies ranging from Fortune 200s to mom-and-pop establishments. I hold a Master's in Internet Marketing, and have experience as an in-house specialist, agency team member, and private consultant.

Great design and site structure are everything.

“Google Says: ‘Create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content. Design your site to have a clear conceptual page hierarchy.’

Site structure is of the essence. Point Internal links to your most important pages and set up site navigation according to the site hierarchy.

Building a website search engines love, the site hierarchy and great content is not enough. You should build a brand next to a great SEO footprint.

Brands get more press

Brands get more links

Brands get more brand searches

Last, build a fast website which gives your visitors an extraordinary experience on a mobile screen!”

Dennis Goedegebuure, Vice President for Growth & SEO at Fanatics Inc.
Dennis Goedegebuure is the Vice President for Growth & SEO at Fanatics Inc. In this role, he oversees the creation of social content, content amplification and all SEO efforts for the Fanatics network of partner sites. You can find Dennis’ work at: TheNextCorner.net or DennisGoedegebuure.com or follow him on Twitter @TheNextCorner.

“The key steps I normally include in any site ideation process I make are:

1. Marketing. It's imperative to know how you can market a site and its products/services - even before it launches. This is mostly comprised of the following processes:

  • Content strategy. Documenting a comprehensive plan on how you will approach your content marketing campaign (that should aim to identify the topics which will most likely resonate with your intended audience).
  • Influencer marketing and link development. Making a list of publications and entities to associate your brand with.

2. Site structure and information architecture. This is very important especially if you want search crawlers to easily crawl and index your site's key pages - and in turn be easily found by users.”

Jason Acidre, Co-founder and CEO of Xight Interactive
Jason Acidre is the Co-founder and CEO of Xight Interactive, and the sole-author of Kaiserthesage. Specialties: Search engine optimization, marketing strategy development, market research (keyword andcompetitive analysis), conversion rate optimization and copywriting.

“Very simple. Build a website that users love and a website that is UX friendly.

Be sure that everyone in the customer journey from awareness to decision can find great content on that website.

Check the crawl budget and optimize your technical basic elements.”

Frederik Vermeire, Freelance SEO Consultant and Online Marketing Specialist
Freelance SEO en online marketing specialist @ wiseo.be - part of @dewaelevastgoed team - Mautic Fanboy! - Tweets over SEO en digital marketing

Gotta have SPEED!

“Create a good text-structure, get the maximum loading speed for your web and spread the great content you have created to get links.”

Manuel Mas, E-Commerce and digital marketing consultant
E-commerce and digital marketing consultant. Technical engineer, web engineer and an entrepreneur. Specialties include e-commerce, digital marketing, and mobile apps. He invites you to follow him on Twitter at @manoletux or at his personal site, manuelmas.es.

“Make sure your site is fast, mobile-friendly, that it hosts value-add content, is easy to navigate, free of technical issues, is well-optimized and follows fundamental SEO best practices.”

Ken Lyons, Digital marketer and co-founder of Measured SEM and Digital Examiner
Ken Lyons is digital marketer and co-founder of Measured SEM and Digital Examiner (free resource for expert, actionable digital marketing advice). 13 years experience, and a proven track record of increasing qualified traffic and driving leads.

“Much like startups and businesses, I love building new sites from scratch and growing them. I've been doing it since 2007.

Over the years, things have stayed almost the same but has more requirements now.

Today, you need a fast website, which means that spending a little bit extra for a better server goes a long way in the long run. Your website should be mobile ready as well.

Besides those, your pages should have the basics of on-page SEO down to a tee. Then your content should be optimized for your targets and people should actually stay to read your stuff.

Get those right and things will fall into place every single time.

Now that the search engines love you, don't get too cocky. It's just half the battle. Never forget to market your content.”

Dennis Seymour, SaaS Entrepreneur and Startup Marketer
SaaS Entrepreneur, Startup Marketing Guy. Co-Founder LeapFroggr and SeriousMD. Leapfroggr handles your brand's Search Engine Marketing, Social Media Promotions and Management, E-Commerce marketing, Online Reputation Management and MORE!

Be unique. Totally original. Stay true to your brand.

“What are the key steps for building a website that search engines will love?

Now that's a big question, but I'll try to distill this down to it's key points.

Success in building a great website begins with a thorough understanding of your business, its strengths and weaknesses, and your customers and their needs. Those are basic business fundamentals that every business needs to understand to be successful, and in turn, your website needs to effectively reflect them. This will lead you into two important parallel paths:

Creating a site that delivers your key messages and a great user experience (UX). Many people ignore this line of thinking when considering how to build a site that does well with search, but you can't divorce UX from SEO in today's world. While we don't know exactly how Google might measure user engagement with a site, we don't actually need to know the details of that. That's because we do know that it's important to them, and therefore, in the long run, the efforts we put into creating a great site experience will help us with both our users AND search engines.

Here are some key things you can look into to improve your overall site experience:

  • Bounce rate: No, search engines do not use this as a direct ranking factor, but you can use it to see how people are valuing your site.
  • Pageviews per visitor: In general, increasing page views per visitor is a good thing.
  • Time on site: As with page views per visitor, more time on site is a good thing!
  • Scroll Depth: If you have blog posts, be aware that your bounce rate will likely be high on these pages, but you can install software to track how far down the page they scroll, to still get some measure of engagement with that content.
  • Percent New vs Returning Visitors: Over time, it's a good thing if you see the percentage of returning visitors growing.

Building a site that search engines can understand and value. Now this is the more traditional part of answering a question about building a search engine friendly site. Here are the major things to think about:

  • Keyword Research: Remember when I mentioned the user's ""major needs"" above? That comes into play here. You should have a page on your site for every major user need that relates to your product or service. Note the use of the word ""major"" here. You don't need, or want, to create a page for every search phrase that users might use.
  • Information Architecture (IA): You have to build a site with a sensible structure and navigation system. How easy is it get around the site? Can users find what they're looking for? Is the content and structure built so that related topics / categories are strongly linked with each other? Like UX, IA is a big topic, but a critical one to get right.
  • Quality of Content: How strong is the content of your pages? Don't get over-focused on maximizing conversions on every single page. In many cases, that will overall user satisfaction with the pages of your site. The point being, satisfying a large percentage of users who visit your page, not just the ones that convert, should be a goal a well.
  • Promote it Effectively: Despite what you may read elsewhere, links still matter a great deal. Attracting attention to your site, and engaging in the right types of promotion will send out the right types of signals that say that your site is important, and that will also help you with Google.”
Eric Enge, CEO of Stone Temple
Eric is the CEO of Stone Temple, an award winning digital marketing agency. He is co-author of The Art of SEO, and was named the US Search Awards 2016 Search Personality of the Year and the Landys 2016 Search Marketer of the Year.

“Building a website that search engines will love - guaranteed! - takes initially just one albeit an absolutely critical and irreplaceable factor: a unique selling proposition. Preferably, the purpose of the website is synonym with a great service which users don't want to do without.

User affection, which translates to great user signals almost always translates to search engines favoring the website even in competitive niches.

Websites that live up and exceed their users expectations tend to require less efforts in terms of technical search engine optimizations, exactly because their user signals continue to trump any potential deficiencies.

Of course, any website that’s built with the intention to do well in Google Search must be crawlable to begin with, otherwise search engines are unable to fetch and evaluate their signals. That however is mere a prerequisite, to just join the competition.

Missing a distinct, unique selling proposition does not disqualify a website altogether but it makes competing for user attention and Google love so much of a bigger challenge.

There are but few SEO silver bullets to balance such a handicap but there is one factor which Google consistently and over proportionally values in highly competitive niches with a multitude of sites providing rather similar experience to users: speed!

If building a unique and compelling website isn’t feasible, building a super fast website is the next best option. Most sought rankings for high revenue driving queries are an achievable goal, even in established markets by building a website significantly faster than the next best one.

As far as Google and other extremely user focused companies such as Amazon are concerned, fast is always better.”

Fili Wiese, Technical SEO expert
Fili Wiese is a renowned technical SEO expert and former senior Google Search Quality team member. At SearchBrothers.com he offers SEO consultancy services with SEO Audits, SEO workshops and successfully recovers websites from Google penalties.

"First, you have to establish the purpose of your site then look into the people who would potentially be interested in what you’re offering. Always create your content with that in mind.

One of the most important elements of a successful website is understanding how people see it, how they use it and what they think about it. While multiple tools on the internet can give you an inkling as to how your site is performing, the best source of answers would be straight from the customers themselves.

One way you can get that is to make use of Qeryz. It’s an online microsurvey tool that pops out and asks site visitors a custom question such as: "Did you find what you were looking for?"

If they answer yes, then that's great. If they answer no, a follow-up pop-up will appear asking what they were looking for. Getting free, actionable input is more important than you think and Qeryz is the tool to go for.

Next, you have to focus on what keyword you should work on. Any kind of website will have competition so you might as well bank on the keywords that work best for you. For this, you can use SEMRush - SEMrush is THE go-to tool for keyword analysis and competition research.

It's the easiest way to get actionable results and reports and will definitely give you an edge over your competition as well as improve your SEO in the process.

After fleshing out your content and their respective keywords, you need a consistent audience. Google loves that. This is where Pushcrew can come into play, as push notifications are a great way to get yourself noticed.

It also provides you with a way to measure that attention, giving you details such as click rate and deliverability rate.

This lets your subscriber seamlessly opt-in to your newsletters by simply ‘allowing’ the tool to send them your content. It's that easy.

Additionally, it’s never enough to focus on your site alone. You should never take external factors out of the equation. Building the right links to increase your authority will make Google head over heels for your website. Ninja Outreach is one such tool that can help you out in that process. Prospecting and bolstering your outreach efforts is definitely a difficult task - ask any Link Builder or Influencer, they know what I'm talking about.

But with NinjaOutreach, it opens up the internet and gives you access to millions of blogs and influencers throughout various social media platforms and of course, their respective websites. It’s not only helpful for prospecting, it's also great to lead generation and content Marketing. Definitely a must have tool.

Also note that constantly monitoring your website’s keywords will keep you on your feet with regards to your site’s performance. We use AccuRanker: one of SEO Hacker's most important tools of the trade. AccuRanker offers a daily update on your keywords ranks as well as website auditing and competition analysis. It's one of the most accurate tools, which is why we love it so much. The best part about it is its intuitive UI; it offers a lot of depth that betrays its seemingly simple interface.

Worth noting is that its Google Analytics-integrated dashboard also offers an overview on how your website is performing as well as customizable reports which you can set at weekly and monthly intervals.

Lastly, just make sure that your website can provide an overall amazing user experience. All factors (such as site speed, inter-linking, images, etc.) should complement your website’s content into making it the ultimate answer for your target audience.

Considering all these ‘steps’ in mind, it all comes downs to when your audience is happy, Google is happy. And in turn, it would love to place you on the first page, don’t you think?”

Sean Si, CEO and Founder of SEO Hacker and Qeryz
Sean Si is the CEO and Founder of SEO Hacker and Qeryz. A start-up, data analysis and urgency junkie who spends his time inspiring young entrepreneurs through talks and seminars. Check out his personal blog where he writes about starting up two companies and life in general.

“The first is in the domain name itself—it should act as the most relevant branding keyword to the business, as it will most likely be the strongest search result (ex. A site for a produce vendor called ‘Freshest Produce, Inc.’ might be freshestproduce.com)

Secondly, the page title (what appears in the tab of the browser) should be right at about 55 characters, with what the business specializes in prior to the business name (ex. New Fruits and Vegetables Daily – Freshest Produce Inc. )

One H1 header tag will act as the next related set of related keywords indexed. This is what the user will see as a title on the page content itself and should delve even deeper into the company specialty, (ex. A Farmers Market Delivered Right to Your Door).

Two H2 header tags will round out the titles of the content, each describing sub-content of the H1 header, (ex. “Granny Smith Apples for Only 50 Cents a Pound” and “Acorn Squash for Only 25 Cents Each”)

Of course, each header should be followed by unique and useful content that is regularly updated to provide the user with a good experience upon visiting.

But if these most basic rules are followed on each page of a website, search engines will index them much more effectively.”

Brandon Safford, Founder and Principal of Small Business Analytics of Texas
Brandon Safford is the Founder and Principal of Small Business Analytics of Texas, which specializes in helping startups increase sales using a combination of digital marketing, Six Sigma, and Lean Six strategies. He is a Six Sigma Black Belt and a member of IEEE and the HEB Chamber of Commerce.

“There is a ton of new website and content popping every day, does yours is aligned with your business long-term goals and the market needs?

In other words is there a demand and can you fulfill it through a website. Not just making another site like everyone else.

When building a new site, follow the technical guidelines (look for webmaster guidelines from Google and Bing) which can be tricky for non-technical marketers, get expert help if needed or educate yourself.

I would point out to one often overlooked part of building a search-friendly website: flat and well-interlinked site architecture.

Not the visual navigation but think of it in links or clicks, help search engines understand the relationship between your pages and sections using relevant links throughout your content, related and most popular content boxes also help automate some.”

Samuel Lavoie, SEO Specialist
Samuel, a french-Canadian SEO since 2006, specializes in technical SEO, audits, research, international/multilingual and strategies. Developing data-driven marketing strategies, based on both user needs and business objectives, centered around owned and earned assets. 

Dress to impress Google.

“There are a few core building blocks I always refer to when building or auditing websites through a search engine's lens.

For each URL that should appear in search for a consumer's question, ask yourself the following:

Can Google find it? Can Google index it? Does Google understand what the page is really about? Will Google think users will have a great experience if they click on my result?

Is it clear that this URL is the most relevant or are there duplicates?

Speed: Make web pages fast.

The basic idea: use fewer files, use smaller files and bring those files closer to the user with a CDN.

UX: Develop mobile-first. More and more, users are browsing and searching the web on smaller screens. Use analytics to determine the type of users browsing your website and optimize for them.

If you don't have enough traffic to test, consider a paid search approach with Google or Bing Ads. And responsive design includes the size of on-page elements (like buttons, forms and links), so consider the experience of a user tapping/clicking.

Directions: Without proper directions, search engines may have trouble showing the right content to users.

Technical SEO can help provide very clear instructions to Google as to what content is important and what it should win for in organic search.

On-page semantics: Whether traditional HTML, HTML5, or Schema.org, semantic markup helps search engines understand which parts of the page are unique and tell the story of the keyword you want to win for.

Technical files, like the robots.txt and XML sitemap, provide a way for search engines to get to important content efficiently while excluding duplicates and irrelevant pages.”

Chris Countey, Technical SEO Manager for Publicis Health Media
Chris is a Technical SEO Manager for Publicis Health Media in Philadelphia, PA with over ten years of SEO experience. Working to improve the search visibility for major consumer and pharma brands through website innovations that improve user experience and enable better communication between content and search engines.

“The key step for making a website that search engines will love is: Follow the rules. Some call them rules, others call them guidelines - Google has pages and pages of recommendations and best ways to do things, yet many fail to review and use the information there.

Make sure your content is unique and well written. Do not reuse content from other websites, it will punish you. You should pay extra attention to check your website can be crawled properly and there are no internal errors on your website.”

Lars Koudal, SEO Consultant and WordPress Developer
Lars Koudal is an SEO consultant and WordPress developer. You can hear his musing by checking him out on Twitter @larskoudal. Also have experience working as SEO/PPC Manager for an affiliate network

Plan ahead. Don't get stuck in the past.

“The biggest problem I see with websites old and new is the lack of connection. That lack of connection seems to be because of the lack of future focus.

For instance, you might build a website, but not think about the possibility of adding a blog in the future. So, when the blog is added in, it's a little obvious. Kind of like an afterthought. Or you might think you'll optimize the site ‘eventually,’ and then not do it for another five years.

With this in mind, the first step should always be laying out the possibilities. Look at what's out there, in terms of website functions. Think about what you might want to do in the future.

You may just want a few pages now, but what if you decide to start blogging? What if you want to start adding products and selling them online? Can the platform you're looking at handle sales?

So first, research. Research what's possible, research your market, your key terms, your top topics, etc. Information is your best defense against a failing website.

Second, to the best of your ability, create your website with the future in mind. If you ‘might’ build a blog at some time, don't wait to have the capabilities coded in. A little extra work now saves a whole lot of extra work later. Integrating a blog into an existing website isn't as simple as it might seem.

The third step is creating the website with the optimization, schema and social built in. All three are so much easier to integrate when you're building a site than when you're coming in later. After that, it's a matter of quality. Quality content, quality links, quality traffic.

Realize that a search engine's business is not ‘getting people to rank.’ A search engine's business is ads. They want - they need - the best search engine so people will use them and be exposed to the ads. -And once you realize that the aim is quality, it's much easier to produce the kind of content and actions they love.”

Gabriella Sannino, International SEO consultant
International SEO consultant is my title...but who cares about those? What I love is creating strategies that include marketing, social, SEO, relevance, ruffling feathers and starting revolutions.

“Speed - Hire someone to do it for you.

Site Structure - Map it out ahead of time if using multiple categories, write some ideas for posts for each category as it makes it clearer doing this simple exercise to make sure you're doing it right first time for the content you really want to do... and come back to it often before creating content.

User Friendly Design - If using WordPress there are lots of great themes out there, many with features that can replace a lot of plugins to prevent clashes with code and delayed loading times.

Google Analytics, Console, Bing Webmaster Tools etc....Get someone to do it for you if you don't know what you are doing, couple of very good guys available on fiverr.com for around $200 to set up the basics with schema markup too.

Plan your marketing elements from retargeting pixels, to CTA's... keep it clean.

Automated Blog Promotion - So many options for content sharing from sites like Viral Content Bee, blogpros, onlywire, missinglettr etc.

Site security - take it seriously, again can hire someone to do it properly for you, the last thing you want is malware warnings in Google console.”

Anthony Hayes, SEO & Traffic software product creator
SEO & Traffic software product creator. Living In Thailand with my 4 Labradors, love cycling along the beach every morning away from the noise and disruptions of having an online business.

Embrace new tech. Use the newest tools. BE technology. (Too far?)

“This year we made a heavy investment into semantic search and topic cluster content planning. We partnered with a leading technology company that specializes in providing a semantic search SaaS tool (Market Muse).

Using their tool & topic clustering strategy, we increased website traffic for a local property manager by 87% in just 8 weeks.

Hubspot actually uses Market Muse for all of their content strategy. We do zero link building these days because of how effective topic modeling and semantic search are.”

Gregg Anderson, U.S. Military Veteran turned Entrepreneur & Marketer
U.S. Military Veteran turned Entrepreneur & Marketer. My wife and I own an Inbound Marketing Agency in San Diego, CA. We will grow the firm by 330% this year using inbound marketing strategies and tactics.

“This is a hell of question. And there are a lot of moving parts. So, I will try and summarise my thinking on the main areas needed to build a site that search engines will love.

And also touch on the philosophy to do so as that is equally as important as the technical nuts and bolts here.

First up is the philosophy. We don't want to chase search engine algorithms. We want to target a search engine's end goals. And search engines are trying to create happy users (and make money via ads but that's another story).

To do this we have to understand our audience. We have to create a site that answers our users every need. To do this we have to focus on creating happy users first and then use the technology available to us to do so.

We then have to use SEO and website design to structure and organise this information in a way that makes sense to our users and that a search engine can easily understand. They key areas to consider here are:

  • Keyword research - structure keywords into logical groups that represent the same user intent
  • Structure - organise your website in a way that makes sense and represents the best way to organise the information
  • Mobile - build your website in a way that considers the device preference of your target audience (almost certainly mobile)
  • Usability - think about usability and how a task suitable for a desktop may be hellish on a mobile
  • Content - your website is simply a wrapper for your content so ensure your content is solid
  • SEO - get your basic SEO dialled in: page titles, meta descriptions, content optimisation, images etc
  • Page Speed - user like fast sites so ensure you build with speed in mind.

I always liked the filing cabinet way of looking at websites. Your site is a filing cabinet. Your sections are draws in the cabinet. And your pages are individual folders and files in each draw.

If you just throw things into a filing cabinet it is very difficult to find what you need. Your website is no different. Getting good structure in place across the site structure and then reinforcing this with your URLs, navigation and site content then you are most the way there.

But of course, you could build a perfectly structured, optimised and written site and it may not rank as we also have to consider how to build authority. However, having everything else right will make that job a good deal easier.

Content again is critical here as a way to broaden scope and create linkable assets to simplify the ever challenging process of link building.

The big takeaway though is to be user focused. Build the site your user needs and then use SEO and website design best practices to ensure the site can be found.”

Marcus Miller, Head of SEO, PPC & Digital Marketing at Bowler Hat
Head of SEO, PPC & Digital Marketing at Bowler Hat. Big search and marketing geek. Focused on integrating classic marketing smarts with expert tactical knowledge of Search and Social.

"A website needs to answer one single question : ‘why do I deserve to be N°1?’ According to X parameters, you need to answer the same question. Those parameters are mainly related to content and links.

The technical aspect is mandatory, but I won't make the difference once you play the real game. In other words, blocking factors will kill your SEO, but if your website is well built, it's just the basic requirements, in order to be able to play in the big league. Content and links are the focus. Moreover, onsite links are the most overlooked. Strong content well linked on site is the biggest challenge to overcome.

I created a concept called Topical Mesh, which gives your content a chance to answer to be loved by a search engine. The era of keywords for SEO is long gone. Now you need to think about topics, concepts, ideas. A keyword alone doesn't do much.

Think about the game ‘mystery word’, where you need to make the other player guess a word by exploring the topic around the word without saying it. It's the same game for on page, on site and off site optimization.”

Laurent Bourrelly, Search Engine Hacker, Content Creator and Keynote Speaker
Search Engine Hacker, Content Creator and Keynote Speaker Since 2004. My passion: create and monetize websites and place them at the top of Google search results.

You know what? Just use a bit of everything.

“If you would like your website to be loved by search engines, here are the top things you should think about when building it.

1. Text content - Some people get to caught up in the design aspect of the process and neglect the actual text content. Be sure to include plenty of the keywords you would like to rank for in your content, but make sure the content caters to the visitors not just the search engines.

The content also needs to be informative and should encourage the visitor to take action.

2. Page Titles and Meta Descriptions - Make sure your page titles and meta description are unique and include at least one or more of the keywords you would like to rank for.

It is also important that the keywords are incorporated into the text content on the page as well.

3. Site Speed - Your website speed is extremely important for user experience and search engine rankings. Your site should load in under 3.5 seconds.

Selecting the right hosting company and plan and using a browser caching plugin can significantly reduce your load time.

Following these tips along with an aggressive outbound-SEO campaign will ensure that your website is loved by search engines.”

Bill Sheikh, Founder and owner of U-Thrive Marketing
I am the founder and owner of U-Thrive Marketing. We are the #1 provider for digital marketing services for businesses of all sizes in northeast Oklahoma. I have been featured on many major news and industry related publications regarding SEO and PPC marketing.

“Use clean, well-marked up HTM. Use descriptive permalinks. Build a useful site hierarchy for content. Write detailed, descriptive, well-marked up content.”

Nate Shivar, Marketing educator and SEO consultant
A marketing educator, consultant, and formerly Senior SEO Specialist at a marketing agency in Atlanta, GA. Working to help people who run their own website run them a little better. Enjoys geeking out on Marketing, SEO, Analytics, and Better Websites.

"Before you begin with your website work, it is important to know that an SEO friendly website is what loved by the search engines and the visitors. Such websites come into search easily and offer an incredible experience.

There is no need to make your website full of colorful stuff, rather than it should have useful information that keeps the users engaged.

Here are some of the key steps that you can consider when building your website:

  • First, understand what your customers are looking for and then design your website accordingly. This will help you to seek their attention and offer them a new experience.
  • Don’t waste your time too much on design rather than keep it simple, elegant and related to your business.
  • User-friendly navigation is crucial to ensure your site is found by the users
  • Go for relevant and long tail keywords. Draft the content using these keywords so that the different pages can be indexed.
  • Work on the loading time of your website as the first impression is the last one.
  • Have a sitemap on your website as it helps search engines in indexing the pages.
  • Content should be well written, with headers and images using alt tag and src tag.
  • Keep the images in compressed form so that site loads faster and creates a strong impression on your users.
  • Keep away from all sorts of gaudy stuff like flash or animated
  • Responsive design will help you to optimize your site for mobiles thus getting more traffic.

If you focus on these 10 areas you will be able to design a website that is completely search engine friendly.”

Akash Srivastava, SEO Consultant
Akash Srivastava, an experienced SEO Consultant from India with more than 6 years experience. Provides affordable SEO consultation that delivers maximum return on investment for your business. His main motive is to take your business to the next level with an effective SEO consulting.

“There’s five key stages or steps that I see being crucial to your search engine performance during your development and they include - Site Architecture, URL Structure, Compelling Content, Internal Linking, and Visual Appeal.

Great site architecture will ensure your users can navigate your site how they want and expect, thus encouraging them to browse further and stay around longer. All of this demonstrating value to the search engines.

Your url structure is always something best planned during this development phase, not afterwards when your SEO tells you your developer has stuffed up. No you shouldn’t have domain.com/?p=123 and no I wouldn’t be using lengthy sub-folders such as domain.com/blog/leadership-services/team-work/this-months-article/.

Content is important. Of course it is. Weak content will see your visitors bounce and that hurts. Duplicate content gets penalised and that hurts. Short content struggles to provide value and encourage time on page and that hurts. So compelling content is important. This includes your About page and your sales pages.

I’ve found internal linking to be one of the easiest tactics that does actually drive results. And why not get it right before launch. Map out your site and start to understand where you should be adding internal links - don’t just do it ad-hoc.

Make sure your home page links to the next level of important pages and they link to the next level. Just published a post? Link it to some of your sales pages.

Visual appeal. OK so not something that gets spoken about usually in SEO circles but something I believe to be important. Yes Google’s advancements in AI and machine learning will have a role to play in understanding images on site but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the impact that a website’s visual appeal can have on user behaviour.

So there’s my five stages of web development crucial for your future search engine performance. I’m also assuming you’ve ensured your site is running fast and it’s crawlable. Good luck!”

Quentin Aisbett, Marketer and lead gen specialist
Data-driven marketer with a laser-focus on lead generation. So from day to day it's SEO, PPC, email, automation and conversion optimisation. Loving keeping up with AI and the role it will play.