Upgrading a website? Four key SEO tips for web design firms

As many web design firms take on the remit of upgrading a client’s website, it is important to integrate best practice SEO techniques into the web design process.

This will ensure that your client both maintains and benefits from the free rankings available in the organic listings of the major search engines.

To gain a ranking is not as simple as changing meta-tags and adding keywords that the target market may use - it is far more involved and requires a structured design process.

The following four tips will help web design firms make a good start at upgrading a website successfully for SEO.

1. Protect Existing Rankings. Many clients will already have rankings in the search engines on the existing pages in their website. If the search engine finds a page is missing after an upgrade your clients will not only lose all the traffic that page brought to the site, but also the credibility that their entire site had built up. This credibility is measured via the Google Page Rank, and sites with high Google Page Rank’s will find it easier to achieve new ranking.

To maintain existing rankings and the important Google Page Rank, these pages must be maintained alongside the main site, or as more professional solution, have a custom 301 redirect setup to point people to the new pages on the new website.

2. Balance multimedia and text. As a search engine indexes a site, remember the search engine can only read text they cannot process images or video. Therefore, ensure ample text is added to the pages (c250 words) so that the search engine can understand what your site is about for indexing. It is reported that Google now ignores meta tags, so for safety do not rely on these.

3. Keyword Research. As more people surf online to find services using ‘keyword’ searches, so does the competition to rank on these keywords too. There are various keywords that would now costs hundreds and thousands of pounds to rank on organically, with no concrete guarantee of a top 10 ranking.

However, your clients can still benefit as people are filtering their searches more by using more unique keyword terms, which still attract significant amounts of searches yet remain untapped by much of the competition. For example, one such search may be “laser dentist” which attracts over 60 searches a day (i.e. 21,900 search p.a), yet the competition is extremely low in comparison the keyword “dentist”.

4. Web Site Software. To get your clients website to rank highly, you either need to build thousands of links to it, or alternatively take the route of building great content to attract the links. For example, a forum is a cost effective way to do this, as people tend to link to forums quite willingly and enjoy adding content to them.

Although this is not an exhaustive list of the best of practice SEO techniques when building a website, this will certainly ensure that you make a good start at SEO.

For those that need further ideas on how to improve your rankings you can take a look at our evaluation report (PDF).

About the author: Max Worton is Marketing Director of the SEO agency Web Efforts and is a regular guest blogger at E-consultancy. The views of the author do not necessarily reflect those held by the publisher.

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