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Although much of the search engine optimisation (SEO) work carried out by agencies like mine is ongoing, there are important elements that need to be incorporated in the early days.

It's quite common for clients to approach us once they have just paid for a brand new website design. This is understandable, even if it's frustrating for SEO professionals. As far as the company is concerned, they now have their shiny new site so it's time to start marketing it with an SEO campaign.

Of course, once the site is finished there is a lot that can still be done, but you've missed many opportunities to maximise the effectiveness of your pages.

There are a number of ways a website can incorporate SEO in its early design. Here's a beginner's guide:

Get your SEO agency involved as soon as possible

You might find this obvious but you'd be amazed at the number of firms who don't let their different providers interact. Even if you don't want to commission your chosen agency to work on the site at the pre-publication stage, it is well worth consulting them.

You may pick one firm for it's award-winning web design and another for it's ground-breaking SEO abilities but that does not mean you can't allow them to communicate with each other.

They won't be offended that you haven't asked them to do the entire job and it will help the optimisation organisation to get some ground-level input into the design.

Add a healthy dose of social media

To get the best out of any online marketing campaign and to soar up the search engine rankings by encouraging inbound links, a website needs a decent social media campaign.

Make sure the website caters for any social media tactic you plan to tap into. If you want a blog or a forum, then this needs to be built in from the start, not tagged on afterwards.

All these things allow you to increase the content throughout the site's life, as well as boosting the inbound links, online buzz and relevant copy.

So, you should be planning your marketing campaign while you're planning the site, to make sure everything you will eventually want.

Consider optimal copywriting

You'll no doubt spend some time planning the copy that will appear on your website, making sure it's professional, punchy and perfect.

Bring in your SEO team before you commission the copy – find out what keywords and phrases need to be incorporated – and make sure the content is optimised for those words.

That is a major part of the battle, you don’t want to be on a backfoot, trying to add your chosen words to the site and jarring with all the splendid work your copywriter did.

Ensure internal links

The behind-the-scenes architecture of a site is vital to a successful SEO campaign. Search engines send out spiders (to crawl the web… geddit?) and assess the pages they find to determine the rankings.

So, make sure your pages are full of useful internal links that use your chosen keywords as the hyperlinked text, reiterating the relevance of your pages for searches under those keywords.

These links will lead to a better website experience for your users too – good architecture means great usability.

Don't get carried away with images and flash

It's very easy to be carried away with a new website. Designers who lack an understanding of SEO may well build with only aesthetic concerns – you need to ensure they are being guided by optimisation principles.

Filling pages with beautiful flash and imagery can look amazing, no doubt. However, search engines want content they understand and, for now, that's words.

Optimise your page titles

Use relevant language, ideally keywords and phrases, in the title tag of every page on your site. It's a simple, basic SEO element, but in the ratings game, every little optimisation element counts.

One final thing

Building a site that's ready to compete for high ranking places is just one half of the battle, particularly if you're trying to score well for the more popular phrases

You'll need to update your content, consider paid advertising space, entice inbound links and really fight for your placement in the search engine results pages. Once you've succeeded in reaching the top, the benefits will amply repay your hard work.

Kevin Gibbons

Published 3 September, 2009 by Kevin Gibbons

Kevin Gibbons is UK Managing Director at digital marketing agency BlueGlass. He is also known as an SEO speaker and can be found on Twitter and Google+.

102 more posts from this author

Comments (4)

Steve  Gorney

Steve Gorney, Owner at s-go Consulting

As a firm that does website design/development and SEO, I would say that this post is right on. So many developers are afraid to discuss the cost of good SEO as they do not want the client to get sticker shock.

One of the best ways to ensure that the steps above are extremely affective is to provide excellent search engine keyword research. This will provide good opportunity for traffic on some keywords in the clients specific marketplace.

Steve Gorney
s-go Consulting

almost 7 years ago

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Noel Wiggins

I agree that if clients can look at the whole picture from the beginning of the web project. Before the design begins, before programming begins and even copywriting.

I have to admit I was one of those that would build the site launch it then add the SEO, then I stumbled onto a project where the SEO was done first, and I was amazed at how smooth it went, as I was designing the site with css and html I was able to add appropriate key words in the alt tags and links and naming conventions really saving time on double work. 

Of course that only works if one firm is doing both SEO and the design,

Currently I am working on a project that I am working hand and hand with the outside SEO firm and I am just now about to review our designs with them for their input, I hope it will be as smooth as the other project...

--

Thanks & Regards

Noel from nopun.com

a professional graphic design studio

almost 7 years ago

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Steve

Yeah managing client expectations is one of the most important aspects of SEO.

And getting the discusion in early is certainly important as the clients may not always understand the nature of SEO and may be dazzled by all the "cool" things flash or java can do not realizing the negative effect it may have on their  SEO efforts.

Like loop an annoying video or song that actually chases users away rather than encourages them to stay and browse around your site.

It also saves plenty of time an energy later on in the process as you can have all the essential elements in place before te site goes live, rather than trying to get in under hood later to make modifications.

almost 7 years ago

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Kerry

I usually get called in after the site has been designed and it's so frustrating.  One of the most important things most companies forget to do is to purchase a domain name with the keywords they are wanting to rank for.

over 6 years ago

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