How to Build SEO into Your Website Design

Building a website is easy. But building a search-optimized site? Well, that’s another story.

Truth is though, the longer you wait to implement SEO best practices, the harder it gets.

Instead, we want to ensure that search engine optimization is built into your website design from the moment you begin to lay a foundation.

Let’s take a look at some of the most important steps you can follow.

Identifying Core Keywords

Targeting the right keywords will be critical to the success of your site.

The importance of this phenomenon is only heightened by Google, where it’s been proven that click-through rates are significantly higher on the first page of results.

In short, the first page is the page you have to be ranking on if you want to get noticeable results. It’s the best way to increase your site’s traffic and estimated click-through rate.

But how do you get there?

Keyword research can be tedious. It’s important that you be rigorous in your research.

Be sure to check out our guide on how to do keyword research like a boss.

Guiding Visitors

In the same way that we writers focus on headlines to get a reader’s attention, your site design needs to consider drawing attention to the most important page elements.

For example, your design should make any CTA glaringly obvious. You’ll want to lure your audience to click it from the moment the page loads.

But how do you make the most important elements standout?

A good design will make use of directional cues. If the purpose of the page is to get your viewers to sign up, consider the use of arrows to quite literally direct your viewer to look at the sign up bar.

Another easy way to do this is through the use of color. You can make use of contrasting colors to emphasize your CTA’s and important selling points.

The goal here is to make it exceedingly easy for the viewer to browse your website and find relevant buttons, headlines or forms.

I could go on for hours about the basics of good design, but in the effort of saving time I’ll refer you to this insightful and actionable guide by Neil Patel.

Flattening Your Site Architecture

Good site architecture ensures easy navigation for users and search engines alike.

The most basic principle here is “flattening” or promoting content ‘up’ the architecture so to speak.

Focus on decreasing the number of links between your homepage and your site’s various content layers.

Let’s say you have a blog (if you don’t, please fix that immediately). Instead of making users scroll down or click 3 times to find your blog, you can place the link in a drop down style navigation bar on the homepage. The easier it is for users to navigate the site, the better.

Note that when it comes to site architecture, a hierarchy should also be maintained. In fact, according to Moz, an ideal site architecture should usually look like a pyramid.

Those of you paying attention will notice I said to flatten the site, but also to make it look like a pyramid. Wait what?!

While it is indeed ideal to flatten your site’s structure, it is also important that the highest-converting and most-visited pages be more readily accessible and prominently featured.,

After all, you can’t put every link on the homepage.

Supplemental Pages

Supplemental pages are usually hidden in the search results because they are either duplicated content, or they do not have enough PageRank.

So, how do you get your pages out of this no-man’s land?

Well, the best method is to build authoritative and relevant backlinks from the get-go.

Please keep in mind that these links should come from reputable sites that are related to your niche. After all, if you’re dedicated to selling fashion products, then it wouldn’t make much sense to try and net some links from tech blogs.

A good way to grab a few links is to write guest posts on high-traffic blogs in your industry. Or, you can try some of these other proactive link-building methods.

Leveraging Customer Base

One strategic way to grow your business is to build relationships with existing clients. Spoiler alert: you should be doing this anyways.

By building a loyal fanbase, you’ll have an army of evangelists who are more than willing to talk about the benefits of your products and services.

To get you started, I’ve rounded up a few methods from Consulting Society and SitePoint. You can’t go wrong using these to win extra brownie-points with your customers and connections.

  • Asking for Referrals/ Testimonials
  • Publishing Case Studies
  • Hosting Events
  • Phone calls or Emails
  • Nominating Clients for Local Business Awards

As you can see, it’s all about building a solid network.

Partner Perks Pages

“No man is an island.”

This saying holds true in both life and in SEO.

To really boost the effectiveness of your site, you’ll want to land some partnerships with relevant websites and businesses in your industry.

The benefits are many, but the most important perk will often end up being the opportunity to expose your product to tons of new leads!

Website Design is an Art

Hopefully you’re not feeling overwhelmed.

There is definitely a lot to keep in mind when it comes to building a search friendly website. You may often find yourself in a position where it makes the most sense to hire a professional.

By the way, if you do this, please ensure that they know how to follow best practices. At the very least you’ll now know how to talk the talk.

If you do move forward with designing your own site, make sure to keep the above in mind and you’ll be well on your way to higher rankings. The foundation is critical, and you’ll be one step ahead of your competitors.

Sam is the manager of marketing and partnerships at RankPay, an industry-leading provider of affordable SEO services. He’s usually working hard growing businesses or writing, but you might also catch him snuggling his dog while rewatching The Wire.